An ambitious and expensive technology: Could carbon capture save our planet?

An ambitious and expensive technology: Could carbon capture save our planet? The BBC published a report in which it presented various opinions evaluating the carbon capture technology, which its proponents believe may help reduce the risks of climate change, while others believe that it is not a quick solution to avoid a catastrophe that could cause the planet.  If the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, net greenhouse gas emissions must be close to zero by 2050, which means removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as we are pumping into the atmosphere.  And the BBC assesses this view of the prominent United Nations scientists who warned that we are on our way to warming the globe by two degrees, and this will make many parts of the planet difficult to live in.  Scientists say natural solutions such as planting trees and technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be key to avoiding the more catastrophic effects of climate change. But for some environmentalists, this is not the right way to go.  Carbon capture and storage  Planting trees, along with changing farming methods that sequester carbon in the soil, are among the natural solutions to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in simple and cheap ways.  Since the 1970s, new, faster technologies known as carbon storage technologies have emerged.  Samantha McCulloch, who leads the Carbon Capture and Storage Unit at the International Energy Agency, says: "There are many options, the most common being to capture carbon dioxide from industrial energy sources that run on fossil fuels. Then transport it via pipelines or ships."  The process involves injecting the emissions into an absorbent compound containing a solvent. Carbon dioxide is collected, while other gases are released.  To separate the solvent from carbon dioxide, scientists use heat. The solvent is then recycled and the pure carbon dioxide is stored deep underground in rocky caverns.  "Another way to capture carbon dioxide is to remove it from the atmosphere directly from the air," McCulloch adds.  "In both cases, it is being stored in deep geological formations to keep it out of the carbon cycle that contributes to heating the planet."  Carbon capture a difference of opinion  Some environmentalists question carbon capture that focuses on fossil fuel emissions as a quick fix rather than reducing emissions.  In 2021, the international climate organization Global Witness conducted research to assess whether the technology could help achieve the goal of preventing global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius.  Their conclusion was that it "cannot be relied upon to deliver global emissions reductions on schedule, but is also used to extract more oil," says Dominic Eagleton, a senior campaigner at Global Witness.  In his opinion, "the best way to stop emissions is to stop burning fossil fuels."  While scientists argue that until we have renewables on a large scale, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology remains an important component of the transition to a world without fossil fuels.  They backed their argument by pointing to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change document released earlier this month, which recommended the use of technology to remove carbon dioxide.  Others also see that CO2 removal is actually one of the few solutions to reducing emissions in heavy industries, such as steel, cement and chemicals. Emission reductions can only be achieved through advanced technologies such as carbon dioxide capture and storage.  CCS advocates also point out that in some countries, investment in all types of clean energies are not available. For those with high emissions of fossil fuels, carbon capture and storage can be a necessity.  Modern and expensive technology  “This technology is still new, and our job is to build ventilators to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it permanently in the ground,” says Christoph Pettler, founder of ClimeWorks, which owns the first commercial plant that sucks carbon dioxide directly from the air.  Unlike utilities that are directly linked to fossil fuel sources, Climeworks filters the air around its plant.  “CO2 capture and storage captures the emissions before they enter the atmosphere. What we do is capture what is already in the sky,” Bettler adds.  Direct air capture is seen as less controversial because it is not directly related to pollutants.  Samantha McCulloch says, “The main challenge with carbon capture technology is its cost. It requires significant investment not only in capture facilities but in planning and investment in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure. We have seen progress but it is still early days.”  Proponents of CCS warn that even if energy systems are revamped and new emissions cut by 2030 or 2040, old CO2 will still be in the atmosphere.

The BBC published a report in which it presented various opinions evaluating the carbon capture technology, which its proponents believe may help reduce the risks of climate change, while others believe that it is not a quick solution to avoid a catastrophe that could cause the planet.

If the world is to avoid the worst effects of climate change, net greenhouse gas emissions must be close to zero by 2050, which means removing as much carbon from the atmosphere as we are pumping into the atmosphere.

And the BBC assesses this view of the prominent United Nations scientists who warned that we are on our way to warming the globe by two degrees, and this will make many parts of the planet difficult to live in.

Scientists say natural solutions such as planting trees and technologies such as carbon capture and storage will be key to avoiding the more catastrophic effects of climate change. But for some environmentalists, this is not the right way to go.

Carbon capture and storage
Planting trees, along with changing farming methods that sequester carbon in the soil, are among the natural solutions to removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in simple and cheap ways.

Since the 1970s, new, faster technologies known as carbon storage technologies have emerged.

Samantha McCulloch, who leads the Carbon Capture and Storage Unit at the International Energy Agency, says: "There are many options, the most common being to capture carbon dioxide from industrial energy sources that run on fossil fuels. Then transport it via pipelines or ships."

The process involves injecting the emissions into an absorbent compound containing a solvent. Carbon dioxide is collected, while other gases are released.

To separate the solvent from carbon dioxide, scientists use heat. The solvent is then recycled and the pure carbon dioxide is stored deep underground in rocky caverns.

"Another way to capture carbon dioxide is to remove it from the atmosphere directly from the air," McCulloch adds.

"In both cases, it is being stored in deep geological formations to keep it out of the carbon cycle that contributes to heating the planet."

Carbon capture a difference of opinion
Some environmentalists question carbon capture that focuses on fossil fuel emissions as a quick fix rather than reducing emissions.

In 2021, the international climate organization Global Witness conducted research to assess whether the technology could help achieve the goal of preventing global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Their conclusion was that it "cannot be relied upon to deliver global emissions reductions on schedule, but is also used to extract more oil," says Dominic Eagleton, a senior campaigner at Global Witness.

In his opinion, "the best way to stop emissions is to stop burning fossil fuels."
While scientists argue that until we have renewables on a large scale, carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) technology remains an important component of the transition to a world without fossil fuels.

They backed their argument by pointing to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change document released earlier this month, which recommended the use of technology to remove carbon dioxide.

Others also see that CO2 removal is actually one of the few solutions to reducing emissions in heavy industries, such as steel, cement and chemicals. Emission reductions can only be achieved through advanced technologies such as carbon dioxide capture and storage.

CCS advocates also point out that in some countries, investment in all types of clean energies are not available. For those with high emissions of fossil fuels, carbon capture and storage can be a necessity.

Modern and expensive technology
“This technology is still new, and our job is to build ventilators to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it permanently in the ground,” says Christoph Pettler, founder of ClimeWorks, which owns the first commercial plant that sucks carbon dioxide directly from the air.

Unlike utilities that are directly linked to fossil fuel sources, Climeworks filters the air around its plant.

“CO2 capture and storage captures the emissions before they enter the atmosphere. What we do is capture what is already in the sky,” Bettler adds.

Direct air capture is seen as less controversial because it is not directly related to pollutants.
Samantha McCulloch says, “The main challenge with carbon capture technology is its cost. It requires significant investment not only in capture facilities but in planning and investment in CO2 transport and storage infrastructure. We have seen progress but it is still early days.”

Proponents of CCS warn that even if energy systems are revamped and new emissions cut by 2030 or 2040, old CO2 will still be in the atmosphere.
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