by Linnea Sorman and Sofia Gren
Provenance of the research:
Title of thesis/research question: Interpretations of concepts and implementation of negative emissions technologies (NETs) in long-term climate targets: A cross country comparison
Type of thesis (undergraduate/masters/doctoral/postdoctoral): Undergraduate
University affiliation: Linköping University
When the research was undertaken: Spring 2021
Countries’ long-term climate targets are described by different concepts which, over time, have become increasingly dependent on negative emissions technologies (NETs) in order for the targets to be reached. This thesis is a cross country comparison, examining similarities and differences in the concepts used by seven countries to express their long-term climate targets, focusing on their plans for implementing NETs. The empirical material was collected from interviews with experts from each country. Concepts in long-term climate targets can have various interpretations and there are uncertainties about what emissions are covered within the different concepts. NETs are crucial for achieving any type of net-zero target; however, they are in nascent stages, except for forest management, and there are several factors affecting the possibilities to implement NETs. It is important not to focus too much on NETs to comply with the long-term climate targets. NETs should function as a complement to emissions reduction and target the unavoidable emissions. We recommend that countries clarify what emissions are included within their concept, set out specific targets for NETs and lastly put a great effort into clarifying policy instruments related to NETs.
- What were the most important or surprising findings of your work?
One of the most important findings of our work is that there are a lot of good things in the pipeline of the future; however, there is also a great need to speed up climate action now. Countries that have set net-zero targets are depending on NETs to achieve their targets; the road to get there is however not completely mapped out.
- What did you struggle with during the research and/or writing process, and how did you overcome these issues?
The biggest struggle during the research was knowing who to contact in each country and what role different agencies have in handling NETs and long-term climate targets. During this time, we sent a lot of emails and were redirected to different agencies and people. We overcame the issues with many hours spent researching environmental agencies and contact information, compiling that information very thoroughly. We also got help from the agencies with whom to contact.
- What are you doing now, and what are your plans for the coming year?
We are studying and working and in the upcoming year, we will continue to do that. Hopefully we get to learn more about negative emissions in the projects and studies we are in!
- Per the above, did your research impact those plans in any way?
The research probably made our interest in climate politics and NETs even bigger, even if we are not directly working with it now. The interest and hope to implement it even more in our studies and work is still there! It is something that might be possible for the Master’s thesis, so the research impacted that in some way.
- Do you have any advice for people who are undertaking this type of research?
The pandemic probably taught us all that it is possible to conduct global research without traveling, but in general people are busy so start early and be aware of time differences and possible technical errors that can arise.
Linnea and Sofia are both from Sweden and met at the Environmental Science program at Linköpings University and graduated in June of 2021. They are both still studying, but now on a Masters level, still within environmental science. Linnea and Sofia noticed, like others, that the net-zero concept has gained popularity amongst countries and politicians. They were curious on what lies behind the meaning of the concept and if the targets are as ambitious as they sound.