To halt climate change this century, we must reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from human activities to net zero. Any emission sources, such as in the energy or land-use sectors, must be balanced by natural or technological carbon sinks that facilitate CO2 removal (CDR) from the atmosphere. Projections of demand for large-scale CDR are based on an integrated scenario framework for emission scenarios composed of emission profiles as well as alternative socio-economic development trends and social values consistent with them. The framework, however, was developed years before systematic reviews of CDR entered the literature.
This primer provides an overview of the purposes of scenarios in climate-change research and how they are used. It also introduces the integrated scenario framework and why it came about. CDR studies using the scenario framework, as well as its limitations, are discussed. Possible future developments for the scenario framework are highlighted, especially in relation to CDR.