The promise of negative emissions

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Science  11 Nov 2016:
Vol. 354, Issue 6313, pp. 714
DOI: 10.1126/science.aal2432

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  • RE: "The Promise of Negative Emissions"
    • Richard Rosen, Expert on energy policy and climate change policy, retired

    I would like to respond to a few point made in the Lackner, et. al. article. First, they claim that the deployment of negative emissions technologies may be less subject to free riding because they require financial investments and not just changes in behavior. However, most policy makers that advocate mitigating climate change do not suggest that we depend on changing behavior to achieve this goal, but usually advocate that the world rely primarily on investing in enhanced energy efficiency and renewable energy resources, none of which requires changing behavior very much.
    Secondly, the authors claim that the world needs "many arrows in our quiver", and that integrated assessment models demonstrated this. Unfortunately, the authors do not seem to realize that a full range of mitigation technologies including renewable energy resources as well as negative emissions technologies were input to the IAMs. Negative emissions technologies were part of many scenario results only because the modelers assumed that they would be cheaper than other mitigation technologies, which may or may not be true decades into the future. Thus, the models did not show they were necessary; the model input assumptions led to that outcome. Third, another important reason not discussed by Anderson and Peters is that many impacts of climate change may be path dependent, and not reversible even if some CO2 is removed from the atmosphere via negative emissions technologies. This l...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.