Capturing Carbon Crucial to Preventing Climate Catastrophe

img_0510.JPG Recapturing Carbon Won’t Come Cheap
By Stephen Leahy

Feb 9 (IPS) – Putting climate-altering greenhouse gases back in the ground where they came from is an essential part of any global plan to avoid catastrophic climate change, scientists say.

Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and pumping the global warming gas deep underground or under the sea “may well be the most critical challenge we face, at least for the next 100 years,” writes Daniel Schrag, director of Harvard University’s Centre for the Environment, in the journal Science Friday.

Coal is, and will continue to be, a major source of the world’s energy and emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), writes Schrag in the report “Preparing to Capture Carbon”.

“By the end of the century, coal could account for more than 80 percent” of all CO2 emissions — double the present level — he writes.

Coal produces nearly twice as many emissions as natural gas, but coal is cheaper, and vast quantities are available and in the right places. The enormous and growing energy needs of the United States, India and China are matched by their even larger reserves of coal. It seems inevitable that thousands of new coal-fired power plants will be built.

Schrag is just one of a host of scientists, politicians, business leaders and even environmental groups who want to lower the amounts of CO2 going into the atmosphere by capturing and storing it.

“We cannot stabilise the global climate without India and China reducing their future emissions,” says Robert Watson, chief scientist and director of Sustainable Development at the World Bank.

The industrialised countries will have to work with India and China on carbon capture and storage technologies, Watson said at a press conference Thursday.

Mary Griffiths, senior policy analyst at the Pembina Institute, an environmental group in Calgary, Alberta, adds, however, that “Carbon capture and storage is not our first choice for reducing emissions.”

Full story Recapturing Carbon Won’t Come Cheap

4 thoughts on “Capturing Carbon Crucial to Preventing Climate Catastrophe

  1. I have to agree with Mary Griffiths. Technological innovations that counterbalance emissions, including carbon capture and the geoengineering ideas recently supported by the US government, tend to suggest that we don’t necessarily need to address the fundamentals of production and consumption. They are also incredibly ambitious!

    Dan –

  2. Dan, you make a good point that the technology to reduce production and consumption of emissions already exist while CCS and geoengineering are futuristic if ever technologies. Stephen

  3. Hello, found you through the Enviro-political blog This Is What Is. A change in behaviours and consumption is more crucial than perpetuating dirty practices. Similar to the attempts at capturing/converting landfill gases, it only encourages people to consume/dispose of more, actually requires it in order to be effective.

    The Recycling Council of British Columbia recently released a report discussing the waste to energy solution:

    It makes no sense to spend money on technology that makes the underlying problem appear to be less of a problem, instead of just fixing the problem. We are human and we are capable of necessary change.

  4. I hope you are correct and that we won’t need CCS. But I doubt it. I agree that having a viable CCS tech (which doesn’t exist yet) would likely lessen the imperative to reduce emissions.

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