Being carbon negative means that the net effect of the carbon sequestration of a product, company, locality or country is such that it prevents or slows down climate change. In practice, more carbon is removed from the atmosphere than is emitted into it, so that the amount of emissions is negative. The concept is related to climate positivity.
Carbon negative technologies include BECCS, in which the CO2 generated through the combustion of biomass is captured and stored in the Earth’s crust. They also include the storage of carbon dioxide removed directly from the atmosphere in the earth’s crust and afforestation. Biochar used in land reclamation is a carbon-negative product.
The scenarios developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees C this century (see Paris Agreement), the world must be carbon negative by 2050 and onwards.
A country can be carbon negative if its carbon sinks are larger than its emissions. At the moment, Bhutan is the world’s only officially carbon negative country, as its forests capture four times the amount of carbon than the country emits in a year. Bhutan’s emissions are 2 tonnes of CO2 per capita while its per capita carbon sink is 6 tonnes. Finland is striving towards carbon negativity from 2035 onwards, when the country is set to have achieved carbon neutrality.