Several greenhouse gas removal technologies (GGRTs), also called negative emissions technologies (NET) have been proposed to help meet the Paris Climate Agreement targets. However, there are many uncertainties in the estimation of their effective greenhouse gas (GHG) removal potentials, caused by their different levels of technological development. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) has been proposed as one effective methodology to holistically assess the potential of different GGRT removal approaches but no common framework is currently available for benchmarking and policy development. In this article, challenges for LCA are reviewed and discussed together with some alternative approaches for assessment of GGRTs. In particular, GGRTs pose challenges with regards to the functional unit, the system boundary of the LCA assessment, and the timing of emissions. The need to account within LCA of GGRTs for broader implications which involve environmental impacts, economic, social and political drivers is highlighted. A set of recommendations for LCA of GGRTs are proposed for a better assessment of the GGRTs and better accounting of their carbon removal potentials to meet the targets established within the Paris Agreement.
- Climate change
- Environmental assessment
- Greenhouse gas removal technologies
- Life cycle assessment
- Negative emission technologies