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Rapid carbon capture investment needed to stave off climate change – IEA report

Carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies will be essential if the world is to meet its energy and climate goals, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has said.

CCUS is the only group of technologies that contributes both to reducing emissions in key sectors directly and to removing CO2 from the atmosphere to balance the emissions that are the hardest to prevent, the Agency said.

Some essential heavy industries like cement and chemicals, as well as the aviation sector, currently have no easy route to full decarbonisation so CCUS must be used to reach net zero carbon.

With over 30 commercial CCUS facilities announced globally in the last three years, projects now nearing a final investment decision represent an estimated potential investment of around $27bn (£21bn), more than double the investment planned in 2017.

The IEA said in its report, CCUS in Clean Energy Transitions, that this portfolio of projects is increasingly diverse and would double the amount of CO2 captured globally.

But it also estimates that the amount of CO2 captured must rocket to 800 million tonnes in 2030 from around 40 million tonnes today; requiring a $160bn investment by 2030, a ten-fold increase from the previous decade.

Some CCUS technologies are directly used in power stations in order to collect their emissions and prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere – such as the UK’s Drax power plant.

Other simpler solutions include the mass planting of millions of trees, an option that even the climate-sceptic Trump administration has embraced, although researchers have warned that this is a potentially risky solution.

“In order to develop and deploy carbon capture and storage as a technology for the future we need investments in solutions and facilities in many regions and countries,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg speaking at the launch of the new report. “CCUS will be necessary on a global scale if we are to meet the Paris Agreement. And we must start now.”

Dr Fatih Birol, the IEA executive director, said: “The scale of the climate challenge means we need to act across a wide range of energy technologies. Carbon capture is critical for ensuring our transitions to clean energy are secure and sustainable.

“Norway has been a global leader in researching, developing and implementing carbon capture technologies, as demonstrated by its major funding commitment this week to the impressive Longship project, which can help not just Norway but other European countries reduce their emissions.

“The IEA is delighted and honoured that Prime Minister Solberg is taking part in the launch of our new report that will help inform policy-making on CCUS around the world.”

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