CCS in the CDM: No Way Forward
7 December 2010
In Saturday morning’s session on carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), ECO was shocked that the the option for keeping CCS out of the Clean Development Mechanism was absent from the text being forwarded to the CMP for a decision.
CCS has many problems and is some time away from being operational for large power stations. And yet the door is opening to let it into the CDM by mandating a work programme. Could this be because the best way to accomplish enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is by pumping CO2 into the ground?
The inclusion of CCS is likely to give a perverse incentive to increase emissions and result in fairy tales in CDM project proposals. For example, it might be claimed that ‘by injecting CO2 into the ground, emissions will be reduced and a clean, state of the art technology will be transferred to a developing country.’ But what this actually means is, ‘by injecting CO2, we can squeeze even more oil out of the ground and even though the safety of CCS has not been established, if there are problems it won’t be in our backyard’.
ECO has long had a view that CCS does not belong in the CDM. It should be pointed out that according to the Marrakesh Accords, the inclusion of a new project type requires a showing that it is environmentally safe and sound. CCS is still in the demonstration phase and its safety has not been fully established, especially on long time scales. Furthermore, CCS is likely to be prohibitively expensive. And extra financing through the sale of carbon credits isn’t enough to increase the financial viability of such projects to the level needed.
In many cases, CCS in the CDM could actually be a foil for continuing to pump oil out of the ground. Just like an addicted smoker, we can’t seem to break our dirty habit.