Global temperatures could rise to dangerous levels if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, experts warn. The risk could be reduced by capturing CO2 emissions before they enter the atmosphere and storing them underground, but progress on what is called Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been slow. We asked Chris Davies, a British member of the ALDE group who wrote a report on this, on why the technology is so important. MEPs vote on his report on Tuesday.
CCS could help cut CO2 emissions and several years ago the EU showed great enthusiasm for developing this technology. So far, we have little to show for it. How come?
Specific targets have been set for the development of renewable energy and generous financial subsidies provided to support it.
It was assumed that investment in CCS would be driven solely by the price of CO2 through the Emissions Trading System and the desire of power generators to avoid having to pay the high cost of CO2 allowances.
But the collapse in the price of CO2 has destroyed this model and removed the business justification for CCS investment.
So why shouldn’t the EU just abandon carbon capture?
If the EU is to meet its low carbon aspirations at the least cost then CCS has a major role to play.
It can enable the continued operation of fossil fuel power plants and is the only means of dealing with CO2 emissions from major industrial installations, in the steel, chemical and cement sectors for example.
Member states each need to prepare long-term CO2 reduction strategies. If CCS has a role to play in these, it will need financial support of the same order as currently given to renewable energy. In many cases it will be found to be a great deal cheaper.