According to the IPCC and IEA, greenhouse gas removals (GGR) from the atmosphere will be needed to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, alongside huge efforts in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Engineered GGRs, such as direct air capture, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, biochar, enhanced rock weathering, ocean removals, and concrete mineralisation could be scalable solutions to decrease atmospheric CO2 concentrations rapidly. Governments around the world are starting to support engineered GGRs through new funding and policy schemes.

However, many uncertainties remain on the greenhouse gas removal potential and possible negative environmental and socio-economic impacts of GGR technologies. Lack of broadly accepted and robust measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) frameworks for emerging engineered GGRs could impede implementation of policies and first-of-a-kind projects.

In this new report, commissioned by the UK Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), ERM assessed existing and proposed standards and methodologies for measuring and tracking GHG removals for engineered GGRs. Our key conclusions were:

  • At the point of review (June 2023), existing MRV standards and methodologies were able to address some important issues related to specific GGR technologies, but none comprehensively address all issues for all technologies.
  • MRV certification schemes for GGR technologies are still at an early stage of development and are evolving fast. Some of the identified issues are likely to be addressed by future updates as both the GGR technologies and standards mature. Multiple new methodologies and updates have been published since the study was conducted.
  • To support establishment of a domestic GGR industry and ensure sufficient assurance on carbon removals, the UK Government could utilise a combination of emerging global MRV frameworks, supported by other UK standards on biomass sustainability and CO2 storage, albeit with the potential for inconsistencies between them. Developing a new GGR standard by the UK Government would have high credibility but may be time consuming.

ERM’s full report is here. This report is being published alongside a GGR policy update from the UK Government, which can be accessed here

For several years ERM has been supporting the UK Government and other clients on all aspects of carbon removals, from techno-economic analysis to market insights, sustainability assessments and policy development. Please contact the project team for more information on how ERM can help you navigate the emerging landscape of carbon removals.