Carbon neutrality will mean major changes to the way economies work. That is according to the UN’s Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) report published on March 3rd 2021. One of the major points the report makes is that carbon capture use and storage to trap emissions from power plants is needed urgently in order to achieve carbon neutrality. It shows that the countries in the UNECE region need to cut or capture at least 90Gt of CO2 emissions by 2050 to be able to meet the 2℃ target.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres told representatives from governments, local authorities, and the private sector during a meeting online on March 2nd to end the “deadly addiction” to coal, which is necessary to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
“Once upon a time, coal brought cheap electricity to entire regions and vital jobs to communities. Those days are gone”, said Mr Guterres. “I also ask all multilateral and public banks – as well as investors in commercial banks or pension funds – to shift their investments now in the new economy of renewable energy”, he added.
The Critical Role of Carbon Capture Use And Storage
Apart from encouraging the nations to enhance their emissions reduction efforts, the UNECE’s brief explores various carbon capture use and storage technologies and provides an overview of more than 50 projects in Europe and North America. It highlights the current practices around the world in CCUS as well as country-specific projects.
The CCUS technologies cost curves and carbon capture potential for Europe are examined. It is forecasted that 320 billion euros will be needed for CCUS deployment before 2050. Another 50 billion is required for transport infrastructure. It is emphasized that CCUS technologies have evolved quickly over the last 5 years. That was achieved through testing in multiple R&D pilot projects around the world. The speed of cost reduction is driven proportionately by their rapid deployment.
Policy makers could allow CCUS deployment by enabling policies and regulatories to support full commercialization of CCS. According to the report, for many CCUS technologies, the Social Readiness Levels are behind the Technology and Commercial Readiness Levels. That barrier could be overcome with strong political will to lead the actions in their improvement.
The UNECE report calls for concrete actions from governments and the private sector. CCUS technologies right now do not have the capacity needed to remove enough CO2 to achieve carbon neutrality. So nations must implement other emissions reduction methods, together with rapid deployment of CCUS mechanisms.