Dec 04 2011
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) is occurring right now in Durban, South Africa. Among the events was one organized by the European Commission’s Directorate-General on the future of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) – a family of technologies whereby Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) emitted through the burning of fossil fuels (or biomass, for that matter) are stored underground. This can be done either pre or post-combustion. The technology is controversial – for some because developing CCS technology may mean diverting resources from the deployment of renewables, for others because of the potentially adverse environmental impacts – but many, especially in the developing world, see it is as necessary, as projections predict that coal will play a major role in the energy mix of developing countries. More information on the meeting can be found here.
Many see CCS as essential to the fight against Climate Change. In the United States, however, where just under half of our electricity comes from coal, there is not a single commercial-scale CCS plant in operation. Is it reasonable to trust in a technology that has not yet shown itself to be commercially viable?
Frederic Hauge, president of Bellona, a Norwegian environmental organization, claims that “Rich countries must look at their historic CO2 emissions as a bank loan, which now must be paid back to the developing countries, with interest.” Is this true? Also, if there is a “Carbon-debt,” why should it generate interest?
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