I was asked to provide comments to the media about this article. They are 
pasted below.  I don't know what will actually appear in print.
Mark Barteau
Director, University of Michigan Energy Institute


It is possible to accept the information and many of the assertions in the 
*Science 
*article by Anderson and Peters, and yet come to different conclusions 
about the importance of “negative emissions” to combat climate change.  The 
reason is, in part, a pervasive sloppiness in the field about what 
constitutes negative emissions.

It is essential for the world both to dramatically reduce GHG emissions AND 
to increase the rate at which CO2 is permanently removed from the 
atmosphere (which we prefer to call Carbon Dioxide Removal, or CDR.) The 
latter is not a substitute for the former, and to the extent it might be 
perceived as such, constitutes a moral hazard as the authors point out. 
Further, the absence of scalable technologies to carry out CDR can be seen 
in two ways with respect to its inclusion in climate mitigation scenarios: 
either as magical thinking or as a clarion call to develop these 
technologies. The *Beyond Carbon Neutral* initiative at the University of 
Michigan described at 
http://energy.umich.edu/research/projects/beyond-carbon-neutral, acts on 
the latter.

As Anderson and Peters point out, there are real issues with assuming that 
Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) will be a sufficiently 
scalable negative-emissions strategy. They point out the large land areas 
that would be necessary, among other constraints. However, a more 
fundamental concern is whether BECCS is carbon-negative. If it utilizes 
land areas that are already growing biomass and removing carbon, it is at 
best carbon-neutral.  In order for BECCS, or any other technology, to be 
considered carbon-negative, it must *increase* the rate of *removal* of 
carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Reforestation, afforestation, wetlands 
restoration, and direct air capture (DAC) of CO2 by chemical means are some 
examples that can increase the rate of CDR. There are unanswered questions 
about the scalability, cost, practicality, technological development, etc., 
of these as well, but the lesson that many of us draw is that we need to 
urgently assess the capabilities of these and to develop the most promising 
ones. We should not allow the concerns expressed by Anderson and Peters 
that BECCS is a “political panacea” rather than a key part of the solution 
to climate change to deter us from investigating other strategies that are 
truly carbon-negative. Nor can we allow the efforts to develop such 
solutions to deter or delay the urgent implementation of emissions 
reduction.



On Friday, October 14, 2016 at 4:13:01 PM UTC-4, adamdorr wrote:
>
> I agree with Greg. This article's dismissal of negative emissions options 
> as a moral hazard is very discouraging. Yes, "mitigation obstruction" is a 
> possible consequence of serious engagement with negative emissions options. 
> But it is certainly elitist, and possibly unethical, for environmental 
> scientists to take it upon themselves to decide which information about 
> climate change options should and shouldn't be withheld from policymakers 
> and the public for their own good. If nothing else, that patronizing and 
> elitist approach to climate change research confirms the narrative of 
> hard-right conservative political groups that decry climate scientists for 
> conspiring to deceive the public. After all, deciding to suppress negative 
> emissions research and therefore withhold information about negative 
> emissions options from the public for fear of how they will react IS 
> EXACTLY conspiring to deceive them!
>
> Moreover, this ignores the very pressing concern that it possible, if not 
> quite likely, that emissions reduction alone is actually insufficient to 
> achieve either the Paris objectives or even less ambitious targets to 
> forestall substantial climate change impacts. It also ignores the even more 
> salient fact that there is little or no evidence that most societies (or 
> indeed any at all!) are up to the challenge of actually reducing their 
> emissions to the extent that even the most optimistic projects would 
> require.
>
> I see this as a pure case of technological denialism at work. See my 
> recent essay here for details:
>
>
> http://www.adamdorr.com/essays/environmentalism-and-technological-denialism/
>
>
>
>
>
> --
> Adam Dorr
> University of California Los Angeles School of Public Affairs
> Urban Planning PhD Candidate
> adam...@ucla.edu <javascript:>
> adam...@gmail.com <javascript:>
>
> On Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 12:45 PM, Greg Rau <gh...@sbcglobal.net 
> <javascript:>> wrote:
>
>> To quote the article's conclusion:
>> "Negative-emission technologies are not an insurance policy, but rather 
>> an unjust and high-stakes gamble. There is a real risk they will be unable 
>> to deliver on the scale of their promise. If the emphasis on equity and 
>> risk aversion embodied in the Paris Agreement are to have traction, 
>> negative-emission technologies should not form the basis of the mitigation 
>> agenda. This is not to say that they should be abandoned (*14* 
>> <http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6309/182.full#ref-14>, *15* 
>> <http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6309/182.full#ref-15>). They 
>> could very reasonably be the subject of research, development, and 
>> potentially deployment, but the mitigation agenda should proceed on the 
>> premise that they will not work at scale. The implications of failing to do 
>> otherwise are a moral hazard par excellence."
>>
>> GR - It's always great to wake up in the morning to read  that my 
>> research and that of my colleagues is an unjust, moral hazard and a threat 
>> to the planet "par excellence". We are indeed in a very "high stakes 
>> gamble", especially if we continue to rely exclusively on emissions 
>> reduction. This is the clear conclusion of the IPCC, otherwise there would 
>> have been no need  for them to bet  their reputations (and Earth) on 
>> unproven negative emissions.  That we do not yet know if or how we can do 
>> what the IPCC views as essential negative emissions should be seen as 
>> clarion call for supportive policies and R&D to find out what our options 
>> might be rather than framing any such action as dangerous.  
>>
>> Curiously, the authors do state that research on such alternatives should 
>> not be abandoned (how generous!), but then (cynically?) suggest that 
>> emissions reduction should proceed under the assumption that alternate 
>> pathways "will not work at scale". To the contrary, more than half of our 
>> emissions each year is already removed from the atmosphere by natural CDR 
>> "at scale", while there is little evidence that  an equivalent amount of 
>> emissions mitigation/avoidance will ever be implemented, including the 
>> "aspirations" of the Paris Accord. It would therefore seem more realistic 
>> if not safer to assume that emissions reduction will continue to seriously 
>> under-perfom and that now is the time for high profile policy and R&D to 
>> foster and support the search for and evaluation of possible additional CDR 
>> approaches or augmentations.
>>
>> So, are the science and policy communities really prepared to let the 
>> perfect solution, emissions reduction, be the enemy of all other possible 
>> solutions without first open-mindedly searching for alternatives and 
>> carefully evaluating their merits? Shouldn't the common goal here be to 
>> avert planetary meltdown by whatever means that prove to be timely, safe 
>> and cost effective? Or is that really too threatening to current, 
>> conventional (and limited) wisdom?
>>
>>
>> ------------------------------
>> *From:* Andrew Lockley <andrew....@gmail.com <javascript:>>
>> *To:* geoengineering <geoengi...@googlegroups.com <javascript:>> 
>> *Sent:* Thursday, October 13, 2016 4:09 PM
>> *Subject:* [geo] The trouble with negative emissions
>>
>>
>> http://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6309/182
>> The trouble with negative emissions
>> kevin.a...@manchester.ac.uk <javascript:>; glen....@cicero.oslo.no 
>> <javascript:>
>> Science  14 Oct 2016:
>> Vol. 354, Issue 6309, pp. 182-183
>> DOI: 10.1126/science.aah4567
>> Article
>> In December 2015, member states of the United Nations Framework 
>> Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted the Paris Agreement, which 
>> aims to hold the increase in the global average temperature to below 2°C 
>> and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C. The Paris 
>> Agreement requires that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission sources and 
>> sinks are balanced by the second half of this century. Because some nonzero 
>> sources are unavoidable, this leads to the abstract concept of “negative 
>> emissions,” the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere through 
>> technical means. The Integrated Assessment Models (IAMs) informing 
>> policy-makers assume the large-scale use of negative-emission technologies. 
>> If we rely on these and they are not deployed or are unsuccessful at 
>> removing CO2 from the atmosphere at the levels assumed, society will be 
>> locked into a high-temperature pathway
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