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OXFORD, UK: A report from Oxford University’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment says heavy dependence on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology would cost at least US$30 trillion a year more than renewable energy, energy efficiency and electrification by 2050.

The report notes the cost of CCS implementation has not dropped in 40 years, in contrast to the dramatic fall in solar, wind, and batteries.

“Any hopes that the cost of CCS will decline in a similar way to renewable technologies like solar and batteries appear misplaced,” said Oxford Smith School Honorary Research Associate Rupert Way. “Our findings indicate a lack of technological learning in any part of the process, from CO2 capture to burial, even though all elements of the chain have been in use for decades.”

The volume of CO2 being captured and stored worldwide has approximately doubled in the last decade to 49 million tonnes of CO2 per year. The technology is primarily used by the oil and gas industry to capture CO2 for enhanced oil recovery rather than storing it.

“CCS will likely be needed for some industries and perhaps for negative emissions, but seeing it as a way to compensate for ongoing fossil fuel burning is economically illiterate,” added Richard Black, study author and Honorary Research Fellow at the Grantham Institute, Imperial College London. He said governments need to “ get serious” about CCS use “and that means three things: scaling up investment, sticking to essential use cases, and being very clear that CCS cannot be a blanket solution.

“Centering national and global decarbonisation strategies on a rapid scale-up of renewables and a corresponding reduction in fossil fuel use will leave us better off and we know it can be done.”

Reliance on carbon capture and storage (CCS) could release an extra 86 billion tonnes of greenhouse gase (GHG) emissions by 2050, according to new analysis by think-tank Climate Analytics.

The calculation is based on the use of CCS by the fossil fuel industry to extract oil and gas while continuing to emit methane.

The report also finds that discussions around abatement are creating the false impression that CCS can enable the expansive use of fossil fuels while still meeting the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.

“The term abated is being used as a Trojan horse to allow fossil fuels with dismal capture rates to count as climate action,” declared report author Claire Fyson of Climate Analytics. [It] "may sound like harmless jargon, but it’s actually language deliberately engineered and heavily promoted by the oil and gas industry to create the illusion we can keep expanding fossil fuels."

The IEA has consistently downgraded its estimation of the role of CCS in the energy transition due to the decrease in te cost of renewable energy and the greater potential for alternatives to fossil fuels.

“The false promise of abated fossil fuels risks climate finance being funneled to fossil projects, particularly oil and gas, and will greenwash the unabatable emissions from their final use, which account for 90 percent of fossil oil and gas emissions,” explained Bill Hare, Climate Analytics CEO.

Climate Analytics is a global climate science and policy institute engaged around the world in driving and supporting climate action aligned to the 1.5°C warming limit.

https://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/
https://climateanalytics.org/
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