International Energy Agency calls for countries to boost support for carbon-capture and storage technology

Governments around the world need to increase support for carbon-capture and storage technology to avert the worst impacts of climate change, the International Energy Agency urges.

As negotiators arrive in Poland this week for the annual United Nations climate change summit, IEA executive director Fatih Birol is warning the world will continue to rely on coal, oil and natural gas for several decades, and therefore must capture and dispose of the carbon dioxide that is emitted from those fossil fuels.

Coal-fired power, in particular, remains a key energy source in the Asia where developing countries continue to build plants to provide affordable, reliable power to their energy-starved people.

Dr. Birol is encouraging developed countries to provide financial incentives for the use of carbon-capture and storage technology (CCS) in the developing world. Over the past decade, support for CCS has totalled a mere 3 per cent of what governments around the world provided in renewable subsidies in 2017 alone, he said.

“Without the contribution of CCS, it will be practically impossible to meet our climate targets,” Mr. Birol said in a telephone interview from Paris.

Canada has been among the leaders in developing carbon-capture technology, with the Boundary Dam coal-fire project in Saskatchewan, and the Quest unit at a refinery owned by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. near Edmonton. A number of Canadian firms are also pioneering the use of captured CO2 in industrial applications, including the cement industry.

Canada is phasing out its traditional coal-fired power by 2030, but that policy allows for the continued operation of plants that are equipped with carbon-capture and storage technology.

Dr. Birol argues environmental advocates and government officials are too focused on renewable energy as the solution to climate change. He said they often ignore that with proper incentives, carbon capture can play a critical role, especially in developing Asian countries that rely heavily on coal-fired power.

The International Energy Agency recently published a report on how the world could meet its goal of limiting the average global temperature increase to less than 2 degrees C, which was set at the 2015 Paris climate accord. To get there, the capacity to capture CO2 from power plants and other industrial facilities would have to rise to 2,300 megatonnes by 2040 from 30 megatonnes today.

The Paris-based agency estimates a $40 a tonne carbon price or subsidy would be sufficient to support a major expansion of carbon-capture technology.

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Post time: Dec-03-2018
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