There is a growing and significant dependence on biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) in future emission scenarios that do not exceed 2°C warming; over 100 of the 116 scenarios associated with concentrations between 430–480 ppm CO2 depend on BECCS to deliver global net negative emissions in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) . The feasibility of this dependence on BECCS is coming under increased scrutiny, given the interconnected issues of food production, energy provision, energy system capacity and environmental impacts of large scale bioenergy coupled with large scale carbon capture and storage (CCS).
- Biomass energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) is used in most future emission scenarios that do not exceed 2°C warming, to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by providing ‘negative emissions’. The use of BECCS is driven by the need to resolve the emissions gap between current emission trajectories and the cumulative carbon budget that equates to 2°C
- BECCS is used extensively in many scenarios; for example in the majority of the RCP2.6 scenarios, BECCS deployment starts in 2020 and by 2070 is delivering a net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. It is this large scale use of BECCS that raises feasibility concerns, especially in terms of global bioenergy resource potential (including underlying socio-economic assumptions), deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure and necessary policy and governance structures (including and going beyond a financial enabling environment).
- Our results highlight concerns about uncertainties in the ability of a global BECCS industry to deliver negative emissions at the magnitudes assumed in the models. Specific concerns were raised over the bioenergy component including direct and indirect land use change emissions and regional diversity of governance and regulation regimes.
- We identify the critical dependence of the potential for BECCS to make a significant contribution to climate change mitigation on new policy and governance structures. This goes beyond the requirement for a global financial enabling environment, to include governance and regulation infrastructure necessary to coordinate, monitor and verify the magnitude of negative emissions from BECCS. Future scenarios of BECCS assume global participation in policy frameworks that incentivise and regulate the deployment of CCS infrastructure and BECCS.