CAN Position: Carbon Capture, Storage and Utilisation
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing humankind in this century. The Paris Agreement seeks to respond to the climate crisis by providing a collective framework for nationally determined actions with the goal of limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5oC above pre-industrial levels. The aim is to achieve a balance between anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. In practice, achieving this goal means greenhouse gas emissions must decrease to as close to zero as possible by mid-century at the latest.
CAN’s vision for a safe climate centers on rapid and deep economy wide decarbonisation of all countries and a transition to a just, equitable, and sustainable future. A range of solutions and climate mitigation tools can help achieve this vision, including, renewable energy, energy efficiency, forest conservation, ecosystem restoration, sustainable reforestation, and reduced meat consumption as well as shifting to sustainable consumption patterns by the global rich and middle classes. CAN urges a global Just Transition to 100% renewable energy, supported by ambitious energy conservation and efficiency measures by mid-century at the latest, conducted earlier by richer countries and essential to meet the Paris Agreement goal.
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is a technology promoted by some as essential to limiting global average temperature increase to 1.5oC. Many climate models produce scenarios, including CCS in the power and industrial sectors, bioenergy with CCS (BECCS), direct air capture with CCS (DACCS), and carbon capture and utilisation (CCU), to either limit warming and/or account for overshooting of the 1.5oC target through the removal of carbon dioxide emissions from the atmosphere. Other scenarios model ways to limit warming without overreliance on or any CCS.
The Integrated Assessment Model scenarios with low or no CCS deployment require considerable increases in energy efficiency and near-term rapid fall in energy demand to meet commitments under the Paris Agreement. Climate models show that if the current pace in global energy demand growth and emission reductions continue, the pathway to limit warming at 1.5oC without CCS will be out of reach within some years. The path we take is a societal choice, with significant implications for intergenerational equity, social and economic justice, land use rights, access to energy, sustainable development, and our ultimate effectiveness in decarbonising our economies.
As detailed in this paper, CAN prioritizes ambitious climate mitigation to meet targets under the Paris Agreement. CAN is concerned that CCS risks distracting from the need to take concerted action across multiple sectors in the near-term to dramatically reduce emissions. Overall, to meet the 1.5oC limit, richer parts of society must consume less, and all must consume efficiently, and sustainably. This will provide space for the globally poorer parts of society to ensure their legitimate space ensuring social and economic well-being for all.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) does not support all aspects of this document. EDF believes we cannot afford to a priori
reject the CCS potential.