Strengthening MRV standards for greenhouse gas removals to improve climate change governance (Report)

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May 21, 2023, 7:36:23 PM5/21/23
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https://www.lse.ac.uk/granthaminstitute/publication/strengthening-mrv-standards-for-greenhouse-gas-removals/

Authors

Leo Mercer

Policy Analyst

Josh Burke

Senior Policy Fellow 


19 May 2023


Abstract

This report seeks to identify the factors underpinning the monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) of greenhouse gas removal (GGR) across the spectrum of biological, chemical and geochemical techniques, and the risks associated with GGR-specific MRV. It provides recommendations for policymakers to reduce the complexity and ensure the industry continues to innovate with high levels of integrity.

Key messages

  • A lack of transparent and robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) is a barrier to scaling up the greenhouse gas removal (GGR) sector.
  • Well-designed, flexible MRV regulations are a market enabler and will help drive growth, innovation and credibility in the sector.
  • An inconsistent patchwork of MRV exists. This has created a complex system, making navigation and meaningful comparisons between different types of GGR challenging.
  • Ocean-based GGR faces significantly more MRV scalability risks than other types of removals.
  • MRV policy development for direct air capture with carbon storage (DACCS) needs to accelerate in order to certify and meet large future demand.
  • Current complexity will only worsen with time as more companies develop new standards.

High-level recommendations

  1. Promising but under-researched GGR methods, such as ocean-based biological and geochemical methods, suffer from a lack of foundational science, which hampers MRV development. Governments should address this shortcoming through targeted funding for longitudinal experiments to explore the GGR potential of these methods, to create an empirical research base and dedicated community from which to build MRV frameworks.
  2. R&D and demonstration support should be made available by governments to reduce costs for expensive MRV processes. Greater data-sharing between project developers, MRV providers and selling platforms should be incentivised so that market analyses are regularly published to increase transparency. This would also highlight market risks and identify where effort is needed to reduce MRV costs.
  3. Regulators should seek to support the development of seller-liability for non-subsurface storage reservoirs for methods such as ocean fertilisation, afforestation and enhanced rock weathering. To ensure a fair allocation of risk between public and private entities, seller liability could be underpinned by government-backed carbon reinsurance schemes that sellers must procure.
  4. Policymakers in jurisdictions developing GGR strategies such as the UK need to develop minimum standards for MRV to ensure interoperability across selling platforms. Minimum standards should be differentiated from preferred methodologies. This could begin with identifying where in the MRV ecosystem there is duplication, low credibility, and unnecessary complexity among voluntary and compliance MRV providers.
  5. Policymakers should consider regulating minimum standards for MRV. Risks will persist for all GGR methods if the sector continues to develop under a light-touch regulatory regime. These risks justify stronger regulation. An MRV regulator with sufficient powers would provide confidence that all removals are high quality.
  6. Policymakers should develop a wide portfolio of GGR methods to manage MRV risks. This needs to be part of a broader governance framework to manage the risks of moral hazard and poor environmental integrity.
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