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IPPC Highlights Importance of CCS for Climate Change

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed the important role carbon capture and storage (CCS) can play as a climate mitigation technology worldwide in its Fifth Assessment Report.

"With CCS, it’s possible fossil fuels can continue to be used; without it, fossil fuels would be phased out almost entirely by 2100," IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri said in the European Parliament this week.

There are 22 CCS projects in construction or operational worldwide, according to a recent Global CCS Institute report.

"We simply can’t have an effective response to tackling climate change without CCS. Decisions and actions are required now to lay policy, legal and infrastructure foundations for widescale deployment post-2020," Brad Page, chief executive of the Global CCS Institute, said in a statement.

According to the IPCC report, many climate scenarios showed warming could not be kept below 2 C if CCS was not used.

The IPCC analysed 11 different mitigation models and found that seven of them could not keep the level carbon dioxide in the atmosphere below a concentration of 450 parts per million (ppm) without CCS.

The IPCC said even if it was possible to stay below 450 ppm, it would cost 138% more to achieve a 2 C scenario without CCS.

"Revenues to fossil fuel assets and exporters would suffer from mitigation, but this would be not as significant if CCS were available," the Global CCS Institute said.

The European Council, representing the heads of the EU member states, recently agreed to increase funding for CCS demonstration projects after 2020.

The existing NER300 funding programme will be renewed by its successor – the NER400 programme – which will be financed by 400 million EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) allowances, the council agreed on 23 October.

However, CCS is seen by many as an expensive and largely unproven technology which has suffered several setbacks over the years. Low carbon prices under the ETS and the recent recession have contributed to reduced interest in the technology.

Climate targets

Countries worldwide will come together in Lima in December to set out the main negotiating text for a 2015 climate deal to reduce emissions. Lima and Paris will establish the targets countries are expected to make post-2020 in reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Members of the parliament’s Environment Committee (ENVI) voted on a draft resolution for the Lima UN Climate Change Conference this week. MEPS stated the urgency to act in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels.

"In Lima we expect countries to propose their ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contributions’ – laying out how to count emissions and how countries will be held accountable," Jake Werksman, EU lead negotiator on climate change at the commission, said this week at an event in Brussels.

"China, Brazil, India, South Africa, the United States and Canada are under no legally binding obligation to reduce GHG emmissions. They made voluntary pledges only – and pledges are not enough to start a pre-2020 downward trend of emissions," Werksman added.

The US has started advocating a political target instead of a legally binding one – as the US Congress is highly unlikely to agreed to a legally binding agreement.

However, according to Werksman, President Barack Obama’s administration is aiming to set emission reduction targets seperatly from the text agreed in Paris – so the US administration can sign the agreement through its own executive department, and not through Congress.

"Ususally we wouldn’t have a president in the White House that is willing to stick his neck out for climate change like Obama has – this has created a unique window," Werksman added.

Peak coal

Several observers are saying it looks more likely that China will get onboard a global agreement now than it did before the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

"China found itself blamed for the collapse of the Copenhagen deal – since then it has recognised the burden of carbon and is facing international expectations of leadership as the second-biggest economy in the world," Sam Geall, executive editor of China Dialogue, said this week at an event in Brussels.

While China’s coal dependency remains at around 70% for electricity generation, discussions around ‘peak coal’ are heating up.

"A coal consumption target could be formulated and discussions are resolving around when a peak would be set for. 2025 is what green lobbies are pushing for," Geall added.

China is likely to reach peak emissions from thermal coal as soon as next year, and may already have done so, according to Ross Garnaut, research fellow at the University of Melbourne.

"Peak coal in China would bring peak coal for the world within reach," Garnaut told Interfax.

Preliminary Greenpeace data suggests China’s coal consumption declined by 1-2% in the first three quarters of this year.

"This will have tremendous implications for GHG emissions from the [largest] emitter in the world, as an emission peak should follow immediately after a coal consumption peak," Li Shuo, climate and energy expert for Greenpeace China, told Interfax.

"It will be the greatest contribution if Chinese negotiators could factor this latest development into account, while submitting its national climate offer early next year," Li added. (Interfax Global Energy)

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