The Speed & Scale plan shows how we can drive greenhouse emissions to our goal line of net zero by 2050. The “net” signifies that there’s no plausible route to zero through emissions cuts alone. While the plan details how we can eliminate about 85 percent of greenhouse gases, the last 15 percent—about 10 gigatons—will need to be removed from the atmosphere and stored for centuries.
That means both natural carbon removal via forests, lands, and oceans, as well as engineered removal with technologies to extract and store hard-to-avoid emissions from the power grid, transportation, industry, and agriculture. We must caution, however, that carbon removal is no substitute for emissions avoidance or greater energy efficiency, but rather a critical complement to be pursued simultaneously to reach net zero.