The development and scalability of negative emission technologies and practices (NETPs) are dependent on the engagement of different stakeholders. Actors in the private sector and NGOs are especially important, as they are called upon to invest in or deploy the different NETPs and to legitimize projects and policies on carbon removal. Therefore, in order to shed light on the business case for NETPs, it is important to understand the perceptions of different stakeholders and highlight the barriers that emerge to their deployment and use.
To understand these stakeholder views on the business case for NETPs, and its potential barriers, 46 interviews with 20 leading European environmental NGOs, 3 government agencies, and 23 companies in industries such as energy, CDR development, and agroforestry were conducted. The interviews focused on the overall opinions, and importantly the motivation and reasoning for those opinions as well.
The interviews revealed the barriers that stakeholders face in their engagement with NETPs:
1) The major barrier reportedly faced by stakeholders interested in buying NETP credits, developing or deploying NETPs, or supporting NETPs-related initiatives are the uncertainties in the present and future policies and markets and, relatedly, current and future business cases for NETPs as some of the main reasons for continuing business as usual and thus not engaging with NETPs.
2) Issue framing and interaction with existing value-sets are crucial to hindering or catalysing engagement with NETPs. In particular, stakeholders differ on their perceptions about nature- and technology-based solutions, also due to historical differences in the use and understanding of forests and nature. These differences can also be ascribed to different frames – in particular whether NETPs are evaluated in comparison with existing alternatives or in absolute terms.
3) Tensions between social and ecological objectives, as well as across different ecological objectives such as CO2 removal and biodiversity. These trade-offs between objectives and priorities further damage the dialogue among stakeholders, who tend to prioritize opposite poles of each tension.
The outcome of these interviews arrives at the following policy recommendations:
- An urgent need for clarity and long-term certainty in regulatory frameworks, both at the level of the EU and within governments of individual member states.
- Policies that support the establishment of industrial clusters will be important for the success of technology-based approaches like direct air capture (DAC) and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
- Supporting policies around storage and monitoring, reporting, and verification (MRV) can help fill gaps in private investment by establishing minimum standards and providing greater confidence to the actors in such industrial clusters.
- Framing should be tailored to specific stakeholder worldviews and geographies.
- Systemic policy approach, rather than one focused on specific aspects of NETPs, will be useful to help clarify policymakers’ broader vision and allay worries about the future investment environment and NETP viability.
- policies that address multiple objectives and that can create connections between components of climate action and social and ecological welfare are critical.
- Climate policies aimed at NETPs must be reconciled with those related to other social and environmental goals so that trade-offs and tensions between different goals are resolved without one target prevailing at the expense of others.
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