The world's first commercial scale carbon capture and storage facility was launched in Canada earlier this year

Incentives for CO2 capture 'should be part of climate treaty'

Encouraging deployment of carbon capture and storage technology in industrial installations should be part of the new global climate change treaty to be negotiated next year in Paris, a UN body has said.

While the existing Kyoto Protocol, signed in 1997 and in force since 2005, acknowledged the importance of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology to mitigate climate change, it did not provide a sufficient basis for wider commercial deployment – something the new treaty should address, the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has argued.

“The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report highlights that without CCS the cost of climate mitigation would increase by 138 per cent,” said UNECE’s executive secretary, Christian Friis Bach.

“CCS therefore has a vital role to play as part of an economically sustainable route to deep emissions cuts.”

UNECE proposes that measures to be embedded into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change should include fiscal incentives for all industrial sectors such as cement, steel, chemicals, refining, transportation and oil extraction.

While the development of other climate change mitigation measures including various forms of renewable energy generation have benefited from widespread subsidy schemes, there is no such policy in place to support the removal of carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere.

A general agreement about the incentives should be part of the new treaty, UNECE says, with individual national governments responsible for implementing and selecting appropriate measures while addressing competitiveness concerns.

“These recommendations are the culmination of an extensive consultation process with technical experts from around the world,” said Barry Worthington, executive director of the United States Energy Association, and chair of the UNECE Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Fossil Fuels.

“They provide a strong message to UNFCCC that CCS will be required to meet mid-century climate targets and must be recognised in a post-Kyoto international agreement.”

The UNECE called for nations to work together on CCS technology development. Efforts should be made, the agency said, to identify safe geological storage sites, educate the public and test reservoirs designed to store CO2 permanently against leaks.

UNECE will submit the recommendations to be addressed during the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations to be held next December in Paris.

The negotiations would aim to reach a global agreement, binding all nations around the world to put their best foot forward in the battle against the ongoing global warming.

Earlier this month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned, that despite the massive development of renewable energy resources, the world’s energy demand will rocket in the next decades leading to a further rise of carbon emissions beyond levels deemed safe to keep the global average temperature increase below 2°C.

In fact, the IEA said, the temperatures may rise by up to 3.6°C, threatening to wreak havoc with the world’s climate, affecting billions of people around the world.

So far, carbon capture and storage technologies haven’t been part of the mainstream efforts to reduce the carbon emissions, mostly due to the unavailability of financing schemes and high cost.

However, as the expert community becomes increasingly certain that barely reducing emissions won’t be enough, the development of CCS is gaining momentum.

The number of big CCS projects has doubled since 2010 to 22 and the technology passed a major milestone this year with the start of the first coal-fired power plant equipped with CCS in Saskatchewan, Canada.

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