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Institute for Responsible Carbon Removal

Building responsible carbon removal futures
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The Institute for Responsible Carbon Removal is a research center in the School of International Service at American University, Washington DC.

What we do

Carbon removal involves the drawdown and durable storage of atmospheric CO2 emissions, increasingly recognized as necessary to meet climate targets. At the Institute, we believe that significant amounts of carbon removal will be needed in the coming decades—but that scaling carbon removal responsibly will require more than demonstrating techno-economic feasibility. Instead, ‘responsible’ scaling of carbon removal means addressing other aspects of what might make carbon removal approaches better or worse for society: what socio-environmental impacts might result? What co-benefits might be provided? Who gets to have a say in how, when, and where carbon removal happens? Who profits from it? Does it exacerbate ongoing emissions, or entrench existing inequalities? Addressing such questions will require research, rules, practices, policies and institutions for ensuring carbon removal gets deployed in ways that actually benefit people and the planet. Current investment into carbon removal deployment is accelerating at an unprecedented pace; this presents many challenges, but also opportunities to create a paradigm shift in how large-scale projects are built and who has a seat at the table to ensure responsible deployment.

Our mission is to build ways of doing carbon removal that are responsible, democratic, just & equitable. To do this, we produce action-oriented research, shape policy and governance facilitating open dialogues and contributing to frameworks, best practices, regulatory frameworks and educate experts and non-experts alike via fellowships, trainings and workshops. Our research, policy and educational work aims to shape decisions being made by decision-makers at all levels, ranging from local communities to federal and international policymakers. In our work, we aim to prioritize the inclusion of oft-excluded groups, and we collaborate with communities, scientists and engineers, technology developers, funders, and others. As independent scholars and thinkers housed at an academic institution, we bring robustness and rigor in all of the work that we do.


Meet the team

Our Latest Work

Here you can find the most recent and exciting activity coming out of the Institute.

As carbon removal increasingly plays a major role in response to climate change, the Institute partnered with the National Wildlife Federation to launch this fellowship summer of 2002 which aimed to center justice and equity considerations in carbon removal policy.

The series focuses on scientific, technological, legal, political, and justice-focused issues associated with carbon dioxide removal.

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Launched in December 2022, Co-Director Wil Burns has developed a new ocean CDR focused podcast series. Episodes will focus on ocean-based climate geoengineering options that seek to reduce incoming solar radiation (solar radiation modification) or remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (carbon dioxide removal).

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This listing includes all working papers, articles, reports, book and book chapters from our staff at the Institute around topics of carbon dioxide removal.

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years as a leading carbon removal research center