Net-Zero is the hottest idea in climate policy today, with countries, companies and innumerable other actors pledging to pursue the goal. Yet it is riddled with ambiguities and relies on the prospects of significant delivery of 'negative emissions techniques' (or forms of 'carbon geoengineering').  My work on Net-Zero began as part of the AMDEG project, and subsequently expanded into collaborative work examining the justice implications of Net-Zero, and the parallels between Net-Zero as a climate goal, and concepts of No-Net-Loss and Net-Gain in biodiversity policy. With Louise Carver I convened an Association of American Geographers annual conference session in 2021 on Unravelling the “Net” in Climate and Biodiversity Policy Frameworks. This led to a 2023 paper forthcoming in Frontiers in Climate. In June 2023 I will participate in an American University workshop on Progressive Political Economy for carbon removal, exploring the concept of 'legitimate removals' in net-zero.

I co-convene a Climate Social Science Network (CSSN) net-zero group.

I have presented to various groups including Chatham House and the Campaign Against Climate Change on the issues raised by Net-Zero. Selected presentations are available below.


Disentangling the “net” from the “offset”: learning for net-zero climate policy from an analysis of “no-net-loss” in biodiversity. D McLaren and L Carver. Frontiers in Climate (2023) (Thanks to LUNETS and Formas for funding this research).

Which Net Zero? Climate Justice and Net Zero Emissions C. Armstrong and D. McLaren. Ethics and International Affairs (2022).

CSSN Position Paper 2022:1 Net Zero, Carbon Removal and the Limitations of Carbon Offsetting. 

Beyond “Net-Zero”: A Case for Separate Targets for Emissions Reduction and Negative Emissions. D. McLaren, D. Tyfield, R. Willis, B. Szerszynski, and N. Markusson. Frontiers in Climate (2019).

10 myths about net zero targets and carbon offsetting, busted. (with 39 others) Climate Home News Dec 11th 2020.

COP26 must urgently get specific on carbon removal in net-zero pathways. Climate Home News, Oct 4th 2021.