Global student activist movement Re-Earth Initiative calls for world cities to remove carbon

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Activists team up with entrepreneur and city networks to launch carbon removal campaign walk it back: pressing for a new global dialogue on carbon removal

LONDON, Nov. 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Youth climate network and Billon Acts awardee Re-Earth Initiative has issued an urgent call for cities to lead the crucial carbon removals agenda, publishing Getting to Net Negative – a paper on the opportunity and need to remove historic carbon.

The paper is the first output of an unusual new alliance,, which sees youth activists unite with an entrepreneur, city networks, corporates and civil society to campaign for a step-change in the governance and speed and scale of carbon removal. 

‘Existing Net Zero plans alone are not enough for us to have any hope of inheriting a liveable planet,’ states Joseph Wilkanowski, co-founder of Re-Earth Initiative and one of the authors of the new dialogue paper, Getting to Net Negative. ‘We urgently need decision-makers to step up and address the evidence gaps and governance questions that are holding this critical agenda back.’

IPCC figures suggest we’ll need to remove 10 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually by 2050 – whereas only 95MtCO2 of durable carbon is currently being removed, the equivalent of just 0.2% of greenhouse gas emissions. Discussions on the scale up of carbon removal at UNCOP27, meanwhile, under Article 6, were met with a backlash from NGOs over lack of governance and insufficient safeguards for ecosystems and human rights.

Cities, say Re-Earth Initiative in the report, have a pivotal role to play in driving the successful, safe and fair scale-up of removals – by addressing gaps in consultation, research, investment and governance.

walk it back’s founder members include key city leadership network United Cities and Local Governments which backs the campaign’s call to launch the ‘largest and most inclusive dialogue on carbon removals to date.’

‘Removal is neither a quick fix nor a simple remedy,’ the report states. ‘Critical questions remain as to how much carbon can be stored, and for how long, which technologies are appropriate and affordable for different contexts, and how new solutions can scale safely and fairly. More research, innovation and development is desperately needed to fill some of these evidence gaps and we urgently need cities to step in to lead this crucial agenda.’ 

The paper urges city leaders to share their plans, expertise and challenges with the campaign and contribute to an ongoing dialogue around carbon removal options that will run in parallel to a 4,000km carbon removal outreach and fact-finding walk that walk it back co-founder Craig Cohon begins on 3 January 2023.

Cohon, the first private citizen to calculate and commit to reversing his entire lifetime emissions, will walk 25km a day from London to Istanbul, visiting 82 towns and cities across Europe in order to catalyse a broader debate on removals. Cohon will be joined by well-known activists, politicians, artists and environmentalists to raise awareness of his ‘guilt trip,’ and the campaign will meet decision-makers in 10 key European cities.

The report urges cities to incorporate carbon removal commitments in Net Zero city strategies; commit to transparent and inclusive consultation; allocate a percentage of city surface areas to green and blue infrastructure; catalyse investment and drive innovation and establish transparent and inclusive governance processes for the sector.

@reearthinitiative @2023walkitback Download Dialogue Paper @2023walkitback

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