Tradeoffs between negative emissions and near-term emission reductions?: Integrating the discursive and material dimensions of mitigation deterrence

Project: Research

Project Details


Negative emissions (or ‘carbon removal’) have become a mainstay of climate mitigation pathways and are gaining increased attention from public and private actors. One concern with this is the mitigation deterrence effect, meaning the risk that the promise of future negative emissions will deter emission reductions in the present. The extent to which this effect plays out beyond models remains largely unexplored. This project seeks to substantiate and theorize (the social implications of) mitigation deterrence by combining (1) an analysis of societal narratives about negative emissions with (2) a study of the emerging material practices of carbon removal. Through (3) transdisciplinary engagement with stakeholders, the project then seeks to define strategies to minimize the identified risk.

The project thus aims to understand if and how discourse and practice on negative emissions interact in deterring emission reductions; what actor interests and wider sociopolitical conditions give rise to mitigation deterrence; and how its negative climate and justice impacts can be avoided.

The project employs mainly qualitative methods and an integrative theoretical approach that combines insights from science and technology studies, political ecology and political economy. Our main contribution lies in providing an empirical analysis of mitigation deterrence, and in advancing an informed and democratic debate on just and effective pathways to meet international climate goals.
Effective start/end date2019/12/012023/12/31


  • FORMAS, a Swedish research council for sustainable development

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 13 - Climate Action

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Political Science
  • Economics
  • Environmental Engineering

Free keywords

  • negative emission technologies
  • mitigation and reduction
  • political ecology
  • political economy
  • Sustainability Science