Perspectives from around the world

Highlights from last week's Carbon Leadership Sequestration Forum

Late last week was a busy time for media covering the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) in Beijing: a number of high level statements by US and Chinese officials were made in reference to carbon capture and storage, as well as CO2 reuse. A report was launched on CCS application on industrial sources. The International Energy Agency (IEA) made some statements about the future of CCS, and so did Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page in a presentation to the CSLF stakeholder meeting.

A call for urgent action on CCS

On Thursday, senior US and Chinese officials said the two countries needed to urgently increase carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) demonstrations and enable commercial deployment of the technology by the end of the decade. A joint statement from the CSLF, including US Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, said that CCS "is one of the low-carbon technology options critical to the global quest to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere". It also called on leaders attending the United Nations' climate change conference in South Africa at the end of the year to recognise the role of CCS in reducing greenhouse gases.

Chu said: “The energy and climate problems we face can’t wait. We have to solve them; we have to begin quickly and go further faster and make it more widespread."

China is also pressing ahead with the technology, and Science Minister Wan Gang said the next decade would be crucial for developing the technology’s commercial viability.

The IEA's Deputy Executive Director, Richard Jones, also spoke about the need for CCS. He reminded CSLF attendees that global temperature is on course to rise by 3.5C. He stressed the need for CCS and for the widespread acceptance of a carbon price and other carbon-cutting efforts. "Every year that passes makes it more difficult," Jones said. "With current policies, CCS will have a hard time [being] deployed ... There is less of a global push for climate action, and tighter government finances."

According to the IEA, global energy demand has more than doubled in the past 40 years and even with the most favourable assumptions will grow another 35 per cent by 2035, which will take carbon dioxide emissions above 35 gigatonnes per year. To reach the 2C goal, the agency estimates there will have to be 1,500 large-scale CCS projects around the world by 2035.

Institute CEO Brad Page said there are currently 74 large-scale commercial CCS projects, planned or operational. He warned that the softening global economy and an uncertain carbon price could impact on the development of commercial CCS.

CCS on industrial facilities

Another headline-grabbing announcement from the CSLF was the launch of a technology roadmap drawn up by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the IEA. The roadmap was partly funded by the Institute - you can view the full report here.

The Technology Roadmap: Carbon Capture and Storage in Industrial Applications looks at CCS application in five industrial sectors, including biomass conversion, cement, iron and steel, refineries and 'high purity CO2 sources', such as ethylene oxide production plants. It says that a rapid rollout of CCS in both OECD and non-OECD countries could tackle the one-quarter of total global emissions that currently arise from industry.

But the deployment would have to see over 1,800 industrial-scale CCS projects undertaken over the next 40 years. This would require a total investment of nearly US$900 billion, with the lion’s share of investment, some $670 billion, needed in developing countries.

“The growth needed will require expanded international collaboration, supporting policies and financing for CCS demonstration in developing countries,” said Edward Clarence-Smith of UNIDO.

We will look more in depth at the findings from this report in a future blog.

Money for capacity development

Lastly, the CSLF made an announcement about funding towards nine capacity development projects in five emerging economies. The Institute's Alice Gibson blogged about the news on Friday.

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Kristina Stefanova

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Kristina has more than 10 years of experience working with the private and public sectors in the US, Australia and the UK in the areas of communications, climate change, energy and environment. She has worked in consulting; for the British Foreign Office; with international organisations such as the World Bank and US Agency for International Development; and as a newspaper and wire reporter. Kristina holds a MsC in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.