Workshop on the politics and governance of negative emissions technologies

presenters at workshop NETs

On 15 and 16 June 2017, the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL) hosted an international workshop on the politics and governance of “negative emissions technologies” (NETs), bringing together 28 participants from seven countries for engaging presentations, feedback, and dialogue in the Raadzaal of Achter Sint Pieter 200.

The workshop was part of the Innovations in Climate Governance COST Action, and was organized by Jesse Reynolds


Some scientists propose intentional large-scale interventions in natural systems to remove and sequester carbon dioxide. Collectively, these NETs could increase the feasibility of ambitious climate targets, such as those of the recent Paris Agreement.

Indeed, modelling repeatedly indicates that NETs at large scales are essential in any realistic scenario of meeting such internationally agreed-upon climate targets. It is unclear whether this would be technologically or economically possible, or whether it is merely a device to transform the impossible into the seemingly attainable.

Furthermore, NETs at such scales would pose social and environmental risks. Deeper questions linger, such as whether this would amount to full scale realization of the Anthropocene, in which humans are a dominant force affecting natural systems.

Unsurprisingly, NETs are controversial. Despite the growing realization of NETs’ apparent necessity, their international politics and policies remain amorphous and emerging. The papers that were presented will form a special issue of Global Sustainability, a new journal published by Cambridge University Press with Johan Rockström serving as editor-in-chief.