An Emissions Commitment Is a Plan for the Future: Developing and Using New NETs Should Be at the Heart of that Plan
B. Mayer and A. Zahar (eds) Debating Climate Law (CUP 2021), Forthcoming
10 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2020
Date Written: August 19, 2020
The Paris Agreement requires states to make emissions commitments. Some suggest that these commitments should only take into account conventional reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, but not removal of greenhouse cases via Negative Emissions Technologies, because these NETs are unproven, and for other reasons.
I argue that this suspicion of NETs is misplaced. Including NETs in national mitigation commitments is not only lawful, but actually desirable. There are five complementary arguments for this:
(i) The text of the Paris Agreement supports NETs
(ii) Drawing a hard line between NETs and emissions reductions would harm policy objectives by discouraging a focus on effects
(iii) Emissions reductions plans are just as speculative as NETs are
(iv) There are no plausible pathways to a good temperature that don’t entail NETs
(v) Exclusive focus on emissions reduction is based on an archaic and nostalgic view of humanity’s place in the environment – and so will lead to unrealistic policy.
Keywords: climate change, geoengineering, negative emissions technologies, Paris agreement, global warming, environmental law
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