Net-zero targets imply a need to compensate for residual emissions through the deployment of carbon dioxide removal methods. Yet the extent of residual emissions within national climate plans, alongside their distribution, is largely unexplored. Here, we analyze 71 long-term national climate strategies to understand how national governments engage with residual emissions. Screening 139 scenarios, we determined that only 26 of the 71 strategies quantify residual emissions. Residual emissions are on average 21% of peak emissions for Annex I countries, ranging from 5% to 52% (excluding land use). For non-Annex I countries, residual emissions are on average 34%. By sector, agriculture represents the largest contributor to total residual emissions (on average, 36% for Annex I countries and 35% for non-Annex I countries). High-residual-emission scenarios show how some countries may retain or expand their fossil fuel production and use, using more carbon dioxide removal or international offsets to achieve net zero.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)867-884
JournalOne Earth
Issue number5
Early online date9 May 2024
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2024

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