Since the earliest stages of international climate policy, carbon dioxide (CO2) has been framed and widely accepted as a problem that needs to be solved by reducing its amount in the atmosphere. In principle this is a correct and relevant starting point for efforts to decarbonize societies. At the same time, however, the unquestioned and one-sided framing of CO2 as a problem has significantly biased the strategies for tackling climate change. We introduce the origins, meanings and implications of one-sided framing of CO2 in climate policy. We also discuss how alternative framings could impact policymaking and eventually our capacity to mitigate climate change. We introduce a paradox: framing CO2 as a problem often translates into policies that hamper the implementation of technologies to decrease the amount of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. We suggest that plurality in framing CO2 could lead to innovative ways and strategies to combat climate change.