Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Burying CO2 Is Cool

By Olivia Kember

Carbon capture and storage is a necessary component of any realistic effort to control global warming.

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Using technologies to capture carbon dioxide produced by power stations and industries and pump it back underground features prominently in scenarios for achieving the global goal of avoiding warming above 2°C – yet it remains deeply contentious.

In many of these scenarios, carbon capture and storage (CCS) needs to be applied not just to coal and gas power but to industrial processes like cement production and even bio-energy generation. Bio-energy with CCS (bio-CCS) isn’t just carbon-neutral, it could be carbon-negative. Applying CCS as biomass is combusted or fermented to produce energy largely removes from the carbon cycle the carbon dioxide that the biomass absorbed from the atmosphere.

A recent study by the Potsdam Institute found that without bio-CCS, achieving the 2°C goal becomes twice as expensive, and limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C becomes impossible. If emissions slightly overshoot our targets, or the climate turns out to be more sensitive than anticipated, bio-CCS can help us recover.

However, CCS is regarded with suspicion by some green groups and fossil fuel industries. Some environmentalists oppose public financing for CCS but support policies that could drive demand for CCS, such as prices and limits on emissions. Fossil fuel representatives welcome public money for research but campaign against policies that would...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.