Making carbon removal work for sustainable development

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    Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces the most severe sustainable development challenges of any region. Typically, these developmental challenges are understood to be at odds with the global need to reduce emissions – as it is assumed that the economic development required to create jobs and meet the SDGs, will inevitably lead to higher emissions. Yet, there is a sector that harbours both the opportunity for job creation and emissions reductions: carbon dioxide removal (CDR). Moving early and decisively into CDR could give SSA a first-mover advantage to capture a significant part of the carbon removal market. Yet, there is limited evidence in both the academic literature and the practitioner community which of the CDR options offer the greatest sustainable development benefits for the continent and how these technologies can be scaled. Our project therefore aims to accelerate SSA’s carbon removal startup ecosystem in three steps by i) identifying CDR technologies and parts of the value chain with the highest potential for domestic socio-economic benefits, ii) assess the readiness across three archetypical SSA countries to understand the broad potential across the region, and iii) run a CDR startup accelerator dedicated to the key technologies and bottlenecks identified in steps 1-2. Our research relies on state-of-the-art qualitative and quantitative methods detailed in the proposal. Ultimately, the project seeks to make CDR a key enabler of sustainable development, job creation, and poverty alleviation in SSA.