Net expectations: assessing the role of carbon dioxide removal in companies’ climate plans

This briefing aims to help investors and others interpret and assess the feasibility of the role of CDR in companies’ climate plans. It starts by reviewing some companies’ approaches, to illustrate the issues at stake. It then reviews the technological status of CDR, the uncertainties, risks and limits to CDR deployment, and how much CDR is possible or needed in energy models.


Since the IPCC’s 2018 special report on 1.5˚C, numerous companies have committed to reducing their emissions to net zero. Over 300 companies have signed the Business Ambition for 1.5˚C pledge, and initiatives involving over 1,000 companies are part of the UN Race to Zero campaign.

In no modelled pathway can the Paris goals be achieved without rapid emissions reductions. It should thus be stressed that CDR is not an alternative to emissions reduction, and in fact can only play a minority role in mitigation. Most scientists and practitioners agree that CDR should be used to offset only the emissions that are hardest and most expensive to abate. This varies by industry sector. Problems arise however when CDR is seen as a vital plank of mitigation strategies, as limiting climate change may become subject to its inherent uncertainties. And when CDR is deployed at a large scale, negative impacts begin to become inevitable.

About our investor briefings

Meeting the objectives of the Paris agreement means that fossil fuel companies will come under increasing pressure from investors concerned about the risks of failing to make the transition to a zero carbon energy future.

Greenpeace has worked to challenge the industry’s business model for over a decade. Our work allows investors to question many of the underlying assumptions of oil industry scenarios and forecasts.

We also examine and interrogate macroeconomic risks as well as technical, legal and regulatory challenges in systemically significant oil projects.

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