Headline: Potential implications of carbon dioxide removal for the sustainable development goals

As the international community’s best expression of a collective vision of a desirable future, the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) present a framework against which to assess the broader impact of emerging technologies. Implications of technologies and practices for removing CO2 from the atmosphere (CDR) are not fully understood and have not yet been mapped against the full range of SDGs. CDR is widely seen as necessary to achieve the Paris Agreement’s global goal of limiting warming to 1.5-2°C, yet local geographical, socio-economic, and political interdependencies are often overlooked. This review synthesizes the best available understandings of potential implications of CDR options aiming to complement emissions reductions. It seeks to identify effects on and interactions between specific social, environmental, and policy environments, in which various CDR options could be pursued. Climate change mitigation and co-benefits from CDR could significantly benefit SDGs, yet poorly designed CDR policies could also challenge SDGs. Specific CDR options could generate conflicts over land, water, biomass, or electric power resources, and exclude communities from policy benefits with negative cascading effects for a range of SDGs. In the literature, implications of CDR activities on sustainable development are derived from current pilot activities, inferred from similar practices already operational or model outputs regarding land, energy, or material requirements. Important gaps remain. We identify questions for further disciplinary and inter- or transdisciplinary work strengthening understanding of how CDR could either support or threaten the achievement of the SDGs.

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Academic Articles

Honegger, M., Michaelowa, A., & Roy, J. (2021). Potential implications of carbon dioxide removal for the sustainable development goals. Climate policy, 21(5), 678-698. doi:10.1080/14693062.2020.1843388.