Thu, 15 Apr 2021

UN report calls for scaling-up carbon capture, use and storage

United Nations
04 Mar 2021, 08:21 GMT+10

Trapping and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil power generation and industry is needed urgently to achieve carbon neutrality, the UN's Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in a report published on Wednesday.

The net-zero emissions goal is crucial to limit global warming, as outlined in the Paris Agreement on climate change, and the technology brief calls for rapid scale-up of carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS).

The process involves capturing CO2 emissions from coal and gas power plants, and from heavy industry, for deep underground storage or re-use.

UNECE said large-scale deployment of CCUS technology in the region would allow countries to "decarbonize" these sectors, thus bridging the gap until "next generation" carbon energy technologies become available.

The report warns that time is running out to deliver the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It follows the UN Secretary-General's message on Tuesday to the Powering Past Coal Alliance summit, where he called on Governments, private companies and local authorities to end the "deadly addiction" to coal.

The brief explores various CCUS technologies and provides an overview of more than 50 projects in Europe and North America.

Scandinavia, the United States and the United Kingdom are leading the way, while smaller nations in the UNECE region are seeking international partners and financing.

Cost is a barrier, the authors note. For Europe alone, an estimated 320 billion Euros will be needed for CCUS deployment planned to 2050, plus another 50 billion for required transport infrastructure.

"Strong political will is needed to make affordable, clean, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all a reality by 2030", said Olga Algayerova, the UNECE Executive Secretary.

"As we prepare for the High-level Dialogue on Energy convened by the UN Secretary-General under the auspices of the UN General Assembly in September, UNECE is committed to supporting member States make 2021 the year of real action on energy".

As the quantity of CO2 removal needed to achieve carbon neutrality exceeds the capacity of current CCUS technologies, investment must be viewed in combination with other means to combat climate change, such as deploying low or zero carbon technology and enhancing natural carbon sinks such as forests, wetlands and oceans.

UNECE said "vast geographical storage capacity" will be needed for large-scale deployment of CCUS. Known suitable sedimentary basins in the region have been identified in the UK, the Netherlands and Norway.

The Commission is also preparing a study on potential storage in Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and the Caspian Sea.

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