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UK and IEA call for carbon capture push to meet climate targets

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Claire Perry and Fatih Birol

The recent report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change provided a stark reminder about the need for action on climate change.

Boosted by supportive government policies and technological improvements, some clean energy technologies are pushing ahead: solar PV has seen spectacular growth in recent years and offshore wind prices in the UK and elsewhere have fallen in price by as much as 50 per cent.

But the latest International Energy Agency data also shows that as we lead up to the climate change talks at COP24, global carbon emissions are set to reach a new historic high in 2018. This underlines the challenge the world faces in moving to a low-carbon economy and meeting the ambitions agreed at Paris in 2015.

There is international consensus that carbon capture usage and storage — or CCUS — is needed if we are to meet those ambitions, as we look at how we may achieve net-zero emissions in the second half of the century.

Yet while CCUS has been shown to work, the world has not yet solved how to deploy it commercially while ensuring that consumers don’t pay over the odds. This is a complex task but one that is increasingly urgent.

According to the IEA, progress on CCUS remains off-track when measured against globally agreed climate and energy goals.

Today’s CCUS plants represent less than 4 per cent of what’s needed by 2030 to be consistent with the Paris Agreement objectives.

This stark figure shows the scale of the challenge facing us if we are to meet the global action to tackle climate change.

CCUS has economy-wide qualities that can deliver clean industrial growth and provide a route to net zero, a key part of the UK’s modern Industrial Strategy. CCUS can be a critically-important solution that can reduce global emissions while boosting jobs and growth and reusing existing infrastructure.

CCUS is one of few available options to significantly reduce emissions from the fossil-based power plants, power stations and carbon heavy industries such as cement, chemicals, steel and oil refining, with energy-intensive industries producing approximately 24 per cent of global carbon emissions.

Here in Europe, most coal-fired plants are approaching retirement age and the UK is leading the way in phasing out coal use. But in many parts of Asia, the coal-fired fleet is young — with an average age of just 11 years — and could continue to operate for decades to come.

Of course, we must follow a prevention strategy and continue to build sustainable energy infrastructure whenever possible. But we must also look for a cure for these existing assets if we are to change course on carbon emissions. CCUS can provide this.

In addition to delivering substantial emissions reductions, CCUS can enable new clean energy pathways, including low carbon hydrogen production, and underpin the sustainability of some vital industries.

The potential for CCUS to support a low-carbon economy and future industrial competitiveness is a key reason for the UK’s technology leadership in this field.

As the UK government reaches the one-year milestone of its modern Industrial Strategy, the economic blueprint for our post-Brexit economy, it will today publish a CCUS Action Plan, developing the first UK CCUS site to operate commercially from as early as the mid 2020s.

We have decades of experience with CCUS around the world and there are now no major technology barriers to deployment. Some will point to the recent challenges in developing CCUS projects in the UK and elsewhere, but there has been a sea-change in private sector interest and the UK Government has continued its investment in improving the technology, including increasing industrial uses of CO2, supporting new technologies and identifying where we can store CO2 in our abundant storage sites around the UK.

The challenge today is accelerating cost reductions, identifying globally effective commercial models and policy frameworks, and establishing the partnerships needed for investment.

The UK wants to lead the carbon capture challenge and is working closely with other countries, from Norway to the US.

The IEA is also expanding its CCUS analysis and outreach to help create new momentum behind this critical technology with governments and industry across the world.

But these partnerships must only be the start of something much greater.

We need new solutions to progressing CCUS. Tackling these challenges and accelerating CCUS deployment will require a truly global effort involving governments, industry and the investment community.

We want the Edinburgh summit to signal the start of a new era for CCUS. It is vital that governments and industry work together to ensure that this innovative technology makes commercial sense. (Source: ft.com)

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Global Carbon Budget 2018: Projected rise in global carbon dioxide of 2.7 percent

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The WCRP and Future Earth sponsored Global Carbon Project has published its Carbon Budget 2018where it estimates that CO2 emissions will rise by a projected 2.7 percent this year, with an uncertainty range between 1.8 percent and 3.7 percent. In 2017, carbon emissions grew by 1.6 percent after a three-year hiatus. The budget was published today in Earth System Science Data and has clear implications for discussions at the Katowice Climate Change Conference.

Please also see the excellent article produced by Future Earth.

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