2015年11月号 [Vol.26 No.8] 通巻第300号 201511_300002_en

Workshop on negative emissions: Bridging societal and mitigation needs 2-5 September 2015 at Hokkaido University, Japan

  • Ayyoob Sharifi
    Executive Director, Global Carbon Project, Tsukuba International Office
  • Yoshiki Yamagata
    Head, GCP Tsukuba International Office
    Principal Researcher, Center for Global Environmental Research

This report summarizes the discussions and conclusions from the Workshop on negative emissions: Bridging societal and mitigation needs held 2–5 September 2015 at Hokkaido University, Japan. The workshop was jointly organized by Global Carbon Project-Tsukuba International Office, Hokkaido University, IIASA, and MCC.

Earth’s atmospheric CO2 level has surpassed 400 ppm, which is the highest level in the last 2M years. It thus appears that we are indeed steering towards an overshoot before stabilizing greenhouse gases to keep global warming to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Can this level of GHG stabilization still be achieved? One core ingredient in the mitigation mix are negative emissions (NE), mostly based on carbon-neutral bioenergy (due to the same amount being sequestered by feedstock growth as being emitted when combusting biomass for energy generation) combined with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which in addition captures CO2 during the energy production phase. But also other options are discussed including direct removal of atmospheric CO2 by chemical means, large-scale afforestation and soil carbon sequestration. Yet, while having long appeared to be an attractive option for climate management, many uncertainties remain—both socio-economically/technologically and on part of the climate science. To address some this uncertainties, GCP-Tsukuba International Office has established the MaGNET initiative and has supported organizing several events, including an introductory workshop that was held in 2013 in Tokyo. This year’s workshop included specific sessions on different negative emissions technologies, their limits, and their interaction and implications for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also included a half-day open seminar on Managing Global Negative Emissions Technologies (MaGNET) that was aimed at capacity building and providing general introduction to latest research on negative emissions to interested academics at Hokkaido University, and an excursion to the Tomakomai CCS demonstration project.

A brief description of major points presented and discussed:

Detailed country-based studies on technologies needed for implementation of NETs were presented in the workshop. Speakers reported on the results of various global and local modelling studies related to the topic. Two ongoing CCS demonstration projects in Japan and South Korea were also introduced. The Japanese CCS project was visited by participants on the third day of the workshop and is briefly explained below. The Korean case is expected to make a significant contribution to achievement of the country’s 30% reduction in the expected CO2 emissions in 2020. In both cases strategies taken to ensure safety of the process and avoid leakage were presented.


It was discussed that Negative Emission Technologies (NETs) could play an important role in climate stabilization and may be necessary to meet the target of limiting warming to less than 2°C relative to the preindustrial era. NETs have received a lot of attention and concerns have been put forward, especially about negative emissions coming from land related options such as afforestation and bio-energy. CCS and BECCS were mentioned as effective emission reduction strategies that are regarded as indispensable in many of the recent low stabilization IPCC scenarios. Some models can work without BECCS. However BECCS minimizes the costs of achieving the goal and it is therefore preferable. There were also discussions on potentials of other NETs such as Direct Air Capture, Enhanced Weathering, Afforestation, Ocean Fertilization, Soil Carbon Sequestration, and Biochar. Several presentations elaborated on social, biophysical, and economic limits that may constrain the global capacity for NETs. Information was provided on impacts of these technologies on land, water, nutrients, albedo, energy, and cost. It was emphasized that although some of the options seem to be promising, it should not be forgotten that all NETs have limits. NETs cannot be considered as a substitute for drastic climate change mitigation in the short to medium term, as embarking on a Business-as-Usual pathway would entail many, partially unknown climate risks.

There were also several presentations exploring synergies and trade-offs between the large-scale deployment of different NETs and other societal needs such as food security (and other Sustainable Development Goals), which could be impacted by competition for land for growing feedstock biomass, for example. Supplementary policies are required to avoid possible conflicts between negative emissions, climate change mitigation, and SDGs. It was discussed that further collaboration between modelling and SDG communities is needed to identify gaps and shortcomings in their respective approaches. This collaboration would ideally clarify what modelling groups can offer to SDG community and how SDG community can contribute to improvement of the modelling process and outputs.

Participants acknowledged that what we have seen from the global models might not necessarily reflect the context-specific realities on the ground. Therefore, it was discussed that joining top-down demands with bottom-up analysis is needed. Methodological challenges regarding efficient interaction between the modelling and governance communities, or even the awareness about each other’s research, was an important issue raised during discussions. Working in a more integrated way with social science and governance research is needed to better understand NETs and their societal and political implications, as well as to improve the science-policy interface in this matter. This would also enhance the chances of diffusion and implementation of NETs in different countries. It was mentioned that a critical scientific reflection is needed on the implication of NETs employment on the agency and power-configuration between various actors in the field. For example, the technical expertise and significant financial investments required for NETs, might favor oil and gas companies to expand in the NETs market thereby however solidifying a status quo.

Expected workshop products

Valuable ideas were collected during the workshop and will be used for further development of the MaGNET research agenda. We are also aiming for a paper based on ideas developed at the workshop.

Future plans

Initial discussions were made on plans for future workshop that is expected to be held around the same time next year. Based on the discussions, the next workshop will probably be hosted by one of the partners in Europe.

List of participants

Name Organization
Eri Aoki The University of Tokyo
Masahiko Fujii Hokkaido University
Sabine Fuss Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC)
Petr Havlik International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Akihiko Ito National Institute for Environmental Studies
Etsushi Kato The Institute of Applied Energy (IAE)
Tsuguki Kinoshita Ibaraki University
Florian Kraxner International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Volker Krey International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Atsushi Kurosawa The Institute of Applied Energy (IAE)
Shunsuke Mori Tokyo University of Science
Yukako Ojima National Institute for Environmental Studies
Ayyoob Sharifi National Institute for Environmental Studies
Hideaki Shibata Hokkaido University
Pete Smith University of Aberdeen
Yowhan Son Korea University
Detlef van Vuuren* PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
Yoshiki Yamagata National Institute for Environmental Studies
Tokuta Yokohata National Institute for Environmental Studies
Hyeon Min Christine Yun Korea University
Ruben Zondervan Earth System Governance

*Over Skype


  • MaGNET Program = Managing Global Negative Emissions Technologies program
  • NETs = Negative Emissions Technologies
  • SDGs = Sustainable Development Goals

ColumnExcursion to the Tomakomai CCS Demonstration Project

This project is the first of its kind to be implemented in Japan. Site surveys at the Tomakomai site were conducted between 2009–2011. Preparatory work, including design and construction of facilities and drilling wells have been started since 2012 and CO2 injection is expected to start from early 2016. About 100,000 tons of CO2 is expected to be injected annually for the period between 2016 and 2018. Monitoring activities will be continued for two more years until 2020. This excursion was a good opportunity for the participants to gain better knowledge of various institutional, economical, and technical aspects of a real-world CCS plant. We appreciate the detailed information provided by officials from Japan CCS Company.



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