Hey Greta, CCS is possible in your lifetime.

You are right when you said at the Austrian World Summit on Tuesday, May 28, 2019 that we have not been told by the people who know better the magnitude of the climate crisis and the solutions that are available to us. It is a travesty that global leaders have not taken urgent action – and you and every young person should be angry that older generations are rolling the dice with your future.

In a podcast interview with Jonathan Watts, Global Environmental Editor at the Guardian when he asked what triggered you to conduct the climate strikes, you replied:

“Two years ago, I saw a film about negative emissions technology called carbon capture and storage that you suck CO2 out of the air. The film ended by stating this is not going to exist in my lifetime. And then I figured that the technology is not going to save us. I became very scared, because I thought that we had this under control. And then I decided to take action myself.”

 

Grateful for your leadership

We are very grateful that you are leading the way, where current global leaders are not. We are sorry that you and other young people around the world are sacrificing a day of school in order to force leaders to sit up and pay attention – you shouldn’t have to do this, and the fact this sacrifice is met with stinging criticisms from many older people and elements of the press with the same tired insults aimed at young people. Rest assured you are not “snowflakes” “entitled” or “naïve” – but the insults show your protest is getting under their skin and working. Change is sometimes painful, transition is hard, and changing hearts and minds slow, but for everyone adult who insults your generation or doubts the cause – know that there are a hundred of us behind you and rooting for you.

CCS can be realized

The documentary that you saw two years ago about carbon capture and storage, abbreviated as CCS, was correct in that the will to realize this solution is lacking. However, CCS has been a technology around for 45 years and has been utilized for climate purposes for the last 20+ years.

This came about because the former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and the Labor party imposed in the early 90’s a CO2 offshore tax that was high enough to incentivize the Norwegian energy company Equinor to implement the largest CCS projects worldwide for climate purposes only. As of today, offshore fields of Sleipner and Snøhvit in Norway have captured and stored more than 20 million tonnes of CO2 offshore. These have given Equinor more than 20 years of operational CCS experience – and models an excellent example for the rest of the world.

Process of returning CO2
SINTEF Illustration: Doghouse.no

Currently, there are 43 CCS large-scale facilities – 18 in commercial operation, five under construction and 20 in various stages of development around the world (Source: Global CCS Institute: The Global Status of CCS 2018). And this past year there has been growing support for CCS action around the world.

We want to inform you that CCS can happen in your lifetime if we get the public to understand the importance of CCS. We need your help to get the word out to the public to inspire political and business leaders to act.

The creation of a common European CO2 network will help make Europe climate proof and “strengthens the regional industry base with access to a CCS system that can withstand growing political and financial pressures associated with the rising climate concerns of the 21st century.” (Source: An Industry’s Guide to Climate Action report, The Bellona Foundation)

What we are not told: Paris climate change targets cannot be reached without CCS.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Energy Association (IEA) the solution to our climate crisis is a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy and CCS. In fact, the, European Technology Platform for Zero Emission Fossil Fuel Power Plants (ZEP) cites,

“We need to move from successful small-scale CCS projects in operation today to building 3,400 commercial scale projects worldwide by 2050 if CCS is to provide 20% of the CO2 reductions needed” (Source: IEA – Technology Roadmap, Carbon, Capture and Storage).

The 20% that CCS can capture globally by 2050 is the 90% of emissions from the world’s largest emitters including steel, chemicals, fertiliser, pulp and paper, petrochemicals, natural gas processing, oil refining. As of today,

CCS is in fact the only technology capable of reducing large-scale emissions across major industrial sectors and this cannot be done by renewables.

CCS is not a one-stop shop for all industrial emissions, but it can buy us time and provide industries a window of opportunity to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy (Source: An Industry’s Guide to Climate Action report, The Bellona Foundation.)

For CCS to be able to take 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, we need global leaders around the world to come together in partnership with business and citizens to support the creation of a CCS infrastructure that is borderless, so that by 2050 we can capture 90% of the emissions from large industries. And at the same time while we are developing this CCS network to vigilantly continue to develop new technologies to replace fossil fuels, the greatest culprit in emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

Even though most of the people in charge know this, the ‘adults’ in the room are slow to realize CCS at a global scale. One of the main reasons is because this is bigger than what one country can take on by themselves. We need to cooperate. There is no current model that shows CCS to be profitable unless we impose fees or taxes. For us to keep the market fair all countries would need to impose similar taxes. What is needed is shift in the mindset to where it is generally accepted that companies that emit carbon into the atmosphere are responsible and should be charged a fee.

So how can we infect the great optimism and enthusiasm that occurs during the research and demonstration phase of CCS and ensure we have staying power all the way to full implementation of CCS?

 

The answer is that we need the public to understand the importance of CCS.

 

 

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