A set of harmonised, science-based criteria to evaluate how much CO2 projects remove, for how long, and whether these projects are sustainable in the longer-term
The CO2RE evaluation framework is a tool to assess GGR projects. This emerging framework uses a set of harmonised, science-based criteria to evaluate how much CO2 projects remove, for how long, and whether these projects are sustainable in the longer-term. Our sustainability indicators test for: impacts or benefits for the natural environment; interactions with society; the viability and sustainability of business models; and, how the GGR project interacts with technical and legal systems. See more detail on each of these dimensions below.
- Life cycle GHG balance
- Permanence of storage
- Timing of removal
- Land and sea
- Water, air, soil
- Social readiness
- Socio-cultural factors
- Technical compatibility
- Resource use efficiency
- Economic costs
- Clarity of value proposition
- Value capture and revenue model
- Applicable control regimes
- Applicable support mechanisms
Quality of reporting
- System boundaries
- Counterfactual definition
The primary reason for developing GGR is to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, to slow down or even reverse global warming. There are multiple ways of removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, each of them being characterised by different supply chains and impacts. It is critical to understand how much removal each GGR provides over its full life cycle and the climatic merit of this removal; in other words, how fast this removal can be delivered, and for how long the sequestered carbon is stored away from the atmosphere.
To appraise GGR options, we must not only assess their potential role in climate change mitigation, but also their wider environmental impacts. GGR can require land, water, energy, and other inputs, which may be associated with resource competition or depletion, and raise pollution concerns. For land-based GGR, we need to consider the ecological impacts of different land-uses and management practices. In some cases these impacts may be positive: some land-based GGRs deployed in appropriate locations have the potential to assist in biodiversity recovery, ecosystem restoration, and climate adaptation, alongside their climate benefits. A comprehensive environmental indicator framework can guide reducing or avoiding negative impacts, and supporting the delivery of co-benefits from GGR deployment.
GGR doesn’t just take place in a lab. As they are being developed, they will interact with communities and society – in fields, forests, towns and cities. Therefore it is vital that we consider people’s opinions, their attitudes, and their reactions to GGR proposals. We know that public attitudes are crucial for the ethical and effective development of new technologies. This dimension tests GGR proposals according to their impact on people and society. Importantly, we know that different people might react in different ways. Therefore we include indicators which show which types of proposal different people might prefer, depending on their values or ‘worldview’. The questions are designed to enable innovators to spot areas in which a project might encounter societal risks, so that action can be taken.
Most GGR options interact strongly with energy systems, as the CO2 removal processes consume some form of energy, i.e. heat, electricity or fuel. They also require different levels of biophysical resources, such as water, land and biomass for their continuous operation. With more efforts directed towards GGR over time, the competition for natural and financial resources between critical activities, such as food production, energy supply and emission mitigation, will inevitably increase. It is therefore vital to deploy GGR as efficiently as possible — maximising CO2 removal with the minimum use of resources.
A business model is a representation of an organisation’s strategic choices for creating, capturing and sharing value. These choices can enable the deployment of GGR by matching the needs of different stakeholders and developing new collaborations in the value chain. But they also have the potential to lock in certain ways of providing GGR-related goods and services that might hinder collective goals. This dimension focuses on understanding how to identify and support business models that help us reach net-zero in ways that are sustainable and just over time.
An adequate legal regime is important for a timely and sustainable scaling up of nascent technologies including GGRs. The regulatory regime can provide GGR with support and establish it as a viable business case. On the other hand, it can hamper its deployment by inappropriate burdens and unnecessary red tape. This dimension establishes a framework for evaluating the law and governance of GGR, and whether said regimes support or hinder the GGRs and their sustainable scaling up in the UK.
Quality of reporting
The reporting quality criteria underpin the whole evaluation framework. To ensure consistent and reproducible evaluation across all dimensions, we are working to define consistent guidelines covering the definition of GGR system boundaries, the definition of the counterfactual scenario(s), that is what would happen in the absence of GGR deployment, and Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) GGR specific guidelines.
We are continuously improving these criteria and guidelines in consultation with our stakeholders.
The CO2RE evaluation framework has been co-produced with a wide variety of Hub stakeholders, to derive consistent and robust indicators to evaluate GGRs on a common basis, which make sense to different decision-makers. At the time of publishing the first version of the evaluation framework (May 2022), the indicators are less than one year old, and more work needs to be done for testing them with different sets of stakeholders and different types of GGR options. We will publish the next updates in October 2023. The development and improvement of indicators will continue over the duration of the GGR-D Programme, until 2025, see below some key dates.
- Testing of EF dimensions through stakeholder workshops
- Hub-Demos working groups, e.g. LCA – MRV
- Internal development
- Stakeholder testing on some dimensions/indicators
- Groups of stakeholders
- Diverse GGRs with readliy available data
- Web feedback
- Prepare v2 and documentation
- Select 3rd party to evaluate GGR-D Demos
Evaluation Framework leads
The evaluation framework development is coordinated by Dr Isabela Butnar, UCL. Each of these evaluation dimension is led by a member of CO2RE, in charge of ensuring that the indicators are scientifically sound and that the latest science is incorporated as we learn from our five Demonstrator projects and other GGR demonstration and use and in the UK and abroad. The leads are also coordinating the testing of each indicator set with a comprehensive set of stakeholders, to remain relevant over time.
Dr Isabela Butnar
Removal, and Evaluation Framework lead
Prof Stuart Hazeldine
University of Edinburgh
Dr Jo House
University of Bristol
Environment and MRV
Dr Rob Bellamy
University of Manchester
Prof Niall Mac Dowell
Imperial College London
Dr Stephen Hall
University of Leeds
Navraj Singh Ghaleigh
University of Edinburgh