Net Zero and Greenhouse Gas Removal Technologies

The Paris Agreement target of < 2C of planetary warming means that substantial net removal of greenhouse gases will be required from the atmosphere during the 21st century. This will require deployment of Greenhouse Gas Removal (GGR) systems at a significant scale to rebalance the global carbon cycle in order to address the root cause of climate change.

Foresight Transitions is looking at new ways in which GGR development can be characterised within a resource availability framework. This involves scanning for technological advances, novel business models which might be manifest and assessing
how value propositions might be developed in different possible futures.

The most recent evolution of this activity is the development of the Carbon Removal Network which is an organisation dedicated to advancing constructive dialogues and collective action in carbon removal, please see: For the C2G2 blog about the Network see this link.

Downloads: Research Papers and Projects

Contribution to National Infrastructure Commission 2021.  A study examining how emerging greenhouse gas removal technologies can support the UK’s climate ambitions.  For final report see link. Foresight Transitions provided supporting evidence which can be found here—specifically the Greenhouse Gas Removal Technology Attributes Study.

Battersby, F., Gray, A., Heap, R. and Workman, M.H.W., 2021.
The Carbon Removal Corporate Engagement Guide. Building Capacity for Corporate Actors to Engage with Carbon Removal.  Foresight Transitions Ltd – in partnership with the Carbon Removal Centre, ATKINS and other international partners – were commissioned by a philanthropic funder to develop a Carbon Removal Guide for corporations. 

*This document has been updated since 0930 on 9th July 2021. The previous version unintentionally omitted direct air capture and storage (DACS) as a key technology option for carbon dioxide removal. This has now been corrected. 

Workman, M.H.W., Darch, G., Dooley, K., Lomax, G., Maltby, J. and Pollitt, H., 2021.
Climate policy decision making in contexts of deep uncertainty – from optimisation to robustness
In Environmental Science & Policy.

Workman, M.H.W. Battersby, F., Heap, R, and McLaren, S., 2020.
Scaling a UK Greenhouse Gas Removal Sector: Challenges and Implications
Panel Session held on 17th September 2020 to launch the Corporate Carbon Removal Guide and Putting People and Communities into Greenhouse Gas Removal Report.

Workman, M.H.W. and Templer, R., 2020.
Atmospheric Restoration Accelerator
Working in collaboration with industry, policymakers and the public to realise and scale greenhouse gas removal technologies in a socially and environmentally positive way to address the impacts of climate change. Presented at the GAUC Conference on 16th September 2020.

Heap, R., Workman, M.H.W., Hall, S. and Armstrong, H., 2020.
Putting People and Communities into Greenhouse Gas Removal: Commercial and Socio-Legal Evidence Project. Full report, Summary, and Executive Summary. Research funded by the Climate Works Foundation and undertaken in the Leeds Yorkshire area to assess how and why publics and communities must be brought into the Greenhouse Gas Removal agenda as efficiently as possible.

O’Beirne, P., Battersby, F., Mallett, A., Aczel, M., Makuch, K., Workman, M., and Heap, R., 2020.
The UK net-zero target: Insights into procedural justice for greenhouse gas removal.
In Environmental Science & Policy.

Workman, M.H.W., Dooley, K., Lomax, G., Maltby, J., and Darch, G., 2020.
Decision making in contexts of deep uncertainty—an alternative approach for long-term climate policy. In Environmental Science & Policy.

Platt, D., Workman, M.H.W., and Hall, S., 2019.
Greenhouse gas removal technologies: A focus on the commercial opportunity.
A Grantham Institute Discussion Paper.

Caldecott, B., Lomax, G., and Workman., M.H.W., 2015.
Stranded Carbon Assets and Negative Emissions Technologies.
Working Paper, dated February 2015.

McGlashan. N.R., Workman, M.H.W., Caldecott, B., and Shah, N., 2012.
High-level techno-economic assessment of negative emissions technologies.
Process Safety and Environmental Protection 90 (2012) 501–510.

McGlashan, N.R., Workman, M.H.W., Caldecott, B., and Shah, N., 2012.
Negative Emissions Technologies.
Grantham Briefing Paper
No 8.

Links: Research Papers

Lomax, G., Lenton, T.M., Adeosun, A., and Workman, M.H.W., 2015.
Investing in negative emissions.
Nature Climate Change.

Lomax, G., Workman, M.H.W., Lenton, T.M., and Shah, N., 2015.
Reframing the policy approach to greenhouse gas removal technologies.
Energy Policy.

Videos, Interviews and Infographics

Greenhouse Gas Removal Infographics.
Understanding the role of Greenhouse Gas RemovalEven after deep decarbonisation there will still be residual emissions across the UK economy. This is where Greenhouse Gas Removal is considered an important tool.

The need for a balanced portfolio of UK Greenhouse Gas Removal.  A range of methods for removing greenhouse gases are available – each with its own profile of risks and benefits.

Broader Questions on Deployment of Greenhouse Gas Removal. Participation of the stakeholders early in GGR will help to build social acceptance, inform policy and regulatory development and stimulate innovation.

World Economic Forum Podcast 2nd Feb 2021: House on Fire – Carbon capture: ecological sideshow or saviour? Francesca Battersby discusses a number of issues regarding direct air capature:

11:56 – 13:10 – “….45Q Tax Credit role in stimulating Direct Air Capture but 12 years is unlikely enough…..”
18:57 – 20:32 – “Concern that carbon removal is being treated as this next new environmental frontier which brings branding clout and maybe isn’t treated with the care that is required……”
25:50 – 27:25 – “UKs role in the development of carbon removal…..”

Direct air capture: Giant machines that can suck CO2 out of the atmosphere could help control pollution levels. Mark was Interviewed by i Newpaper dated 28th November 2020.

“We are going to remove an invisible gas and store it in invisible storage sites. And we are going to be taking vast quantities of public money – tens, if not hundreds of billions of pounds,” he says. “There really does need to be a much broader social dialogue about this.”

Mark was a Panel Member for the Carnegie Climate Governance Initiative(C2G) Learn Webinar on Catalysing Large Scale Carbon Dioxide Removal on 3rd November 2020 (YouTube).

This Campfire Chat Webinar provided insights into diverse viewpoints on catalysing large-scale carbon dioxide removal – in a relatively informal, moderated, semi-structured discussion between experts. These included: Louise Jeffery (New Climate Institute, UK), Jason Eis (Vivid Economics, USA), Artur Runge-Metzger (European Commission, Germany) and Mark Workman (Foresight Transitions, UK).

[32.27] The case for a carbon removal accelerator…`…not only are we looking to develop a technology. We are looking to develop an entire market from a standing start…we need to evolve the technology, policy construct, social engagement etc……[33.05 to 36.24] …An explanation of the theory of change within which a carbon removal accelerator might operate.

[1.27.00] Narratives of hope: `…we just need to get on with it.’

[1.28.59] `……there are ink blots of activity happening [in the carbon removal space] – critical mass and the identification of the systemic drivers [needed to drive the sector] need to be better understood which is why we are working on developing an accelerator.’

Interviewed for the Financial Times featurette 24th March 2019 (YouTube).
‘How capturing CO2 from air can combat climate change’ [2.50 – 3.14 seconds] Mark said….“At present, there is no market for carbon dioxide removal, so the big question is, how do we generate a market from a standing start?”

Physics World Feature on Carbon Capture June 2013Mopping up Carbon: Technologies that capture carbon dioxide directly from the air would help us to manage climate change and make profitable by-products in the process. But the financial feasibility of such schemes is controversial…

Mark said “….negative emissions technologies as an essential bridge. “We need to develop this line of research in order to buy time to introduce the low-carbon economy at rates at which energy-system technologies take to diffuse, which is up to 100 years, rather than being compressed into the next 30–40 years…

Let's talk about your next project

For inquiries regarding future collaboration please get in contact with Mark.