The COP26 news coverage has focussed on pledges from counties to cut their emissions (which is good) and on funding for new technologies to suck carbon out of the air (which isn’t so good). Increasingly scientists, ecologists, and activists have been calling out that technical solutions are a distraction from the core problem: we’re burning up fossil fuels. Technology won’t save us, cutting greenhouse gas emissions to zero will.
This isn’t to say we shouldn’t research carbon capture technologies, rather we should prioritize not putting more carbon into the air in the first place. Leave the oil in the ground, stop all coal consumption, and ban the production of fossil fuel powered engines.
“Simply put, technological carbon capture is a dangerous distraction,” they wrote. “We don’t need tofixfossil fuels, we need toditchthem.”
Despite these groups’ concerns, we’re likely to be bombarded with more good-news climate stories like the coverage accorded to the plant in Merritt and the project in Iceland. And carbon capture, utilization, and storage is a key component of Canada and B.C.’s plans for reducing overall emissions.
The report acknowledges that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s future scenarios allow for the deployment of carbon-capture technologies from the air in achieving the Paris targets.
A company in Iceland captures carbon right out of the air and injects into the earth, the operation is a working proof that we can take carbon out of thin air. The carbon capture and storage (ccs) process is one of many options we have as a species to advert our own demise. With COP26 starting next week we not only need to get politicians to enforce policies to help the environment (like cutting market manipulating polices like oil subsidies) but to invest in building ccs solutions.
The Economist magazine (which is incredibly slow in acknowledging the world changes) has a good article exploring the state of ccs and what options we have. There are multiple solutions and we should explore them all.
Without a doubt our focus should be on reducing carbon emissions, but there’s no reason we can’t reduce our carbon output while also looking into capturing it.
The negative emissions is held to offer play two roles in climate stabilisation. One might be seen as balancing the current carbon account. Although most emissions can theoretically be eliminated using technologies that exist now, aviation, shipping and some industrial processes remain hard to decarbonise.Some agricultural greenhouse-gas emissions look as if they will prove recalcitrant. As long as emissions of long-lived greenhouse gases persist, stabilisation will require negative emissions.
The other role foris getting rid of historical excess. As we have seen, the cumulative CO2-emissions budget consistent with a 50-50 chance of meeting the 2°C goal is 3.7trn tonnes. The budget for 1.5°C is just 2.9trn tonnes. With 2.4trn tonnes already emitted, that leaves a decade of emissions at today’s rates for 1.5°C, maybe 25 years for 2°C.
Electric energy production using non-renewable processes produces an immense amount of carbon, and as a civilization we can’t afford to put more carbon in the atmosphere. Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder set out to figure out how much pollution do power plants actually produce and what can we do about the worst ones. They found that 73% of pollution came from just 5% of power plants, unsurprisingly those plants used coal. So let’s shut them down!
According to the authors of the research, the emission intensity of the ten worst plants exceeded those of other fossil fuel power plants in their home countries in 2018 at a rate 28.2 percent to 75.6 percent higher than their counterparts. This suggests that the plants are very inefficient in burning coal, the research showed.
â€œWhy these relatively inefficient plants are used so heavily is a topic ripe for future investigation,â€ the authors wrote.
A materials company in Berlin wants to build the world using carbon taken our of the air – making it the first carbon-negative materials manufacture. Made of Air has sunglasses on the market and provides cladding material for buildings all made from a tried and tested method of capturing air based carbon, they then apply their unique method to make the carbon durable enough in these other settings. For every tone of plastic-like material they create they store about two tonnes of co2.
Over the next year, the company is ramping up its production capacity by 100 times to sequester 2,000 tonnes of CO2e each year.
Made of Air is a non-toxic bioplastic made from biochar. This charcoal-like material is almost pure carbon and is made by burning biomass such as forestry offcuts and secondary agricultural materials without oxygen.
Biochar has been produced for centuries and is increasingly being used as a fertiliser as well as a way of sequestering carbon in the soil.
Made of Air mixes biochar with a binder made from sugar cane to create a material that can be melted and moulded like a regular thermoplastic.
There’s no doubt that we can all reduce our carbon footprint, but there’s one segment of the population who drastically need to cut their carbon output: the rich. Recent headlines have made it clear that the poor are impact most by climate issues, while the rich can afford solutions the rest of us cannot. What’s more, according to the UN, the wealthiest 1% produce double the combined carbon emissions of the poorest 50%. The richest 5% contributed 37% of emissions growth between 1990 and 2015.
If we’re going to avoid climate catastrophe then we need the polluter elite to do their part – not just the rest of us.
He continued: â€œRich people who fly a lot may think they can offset their emissions by tree-planting schemes or projects to capture carbon from the air. But these schemes are highly contentious and theyâ€™re not proven over time.
The wealthy, he said, â€œsimply must fly less and drive less. Even if they own an electric SUV thatâ€™s still a drain on the energy system and all the emissions created making the vehicle in the first placeâ€.
Sam Hall, from the Conservative Environment Network, told BBC News: “Itâ€™s right to emphasise the importance of fairness in delivering (emissions cuts) – and policy could make it easier for people and businesses to go green – through incentives, targeted regulation and nudges.