Carbon capture 'simply won't work' to reach net zero emissions: report

Carbon capture 'simply won't work' to reach net zero emissions: report
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Economy

A new report offering an assessment of the U.S. government's net zero plan argues that carbon capture and storage schemes are not a viable solution for the issues regarding climate change.

According to The Guardian, researchers with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found "underperforming carbon capture projects considerably outnumbered successful ones by large margins."

The study focused on 13 different programs that make up approximately 55% of the world's operational capacity. Per the news outlet: "IEEFA’s report said that although carbon capture and storage is a 50-year-old technology, its results have been varied. Most CCS projects have since reused captured gas by pumping it into dwindling oil fields to help squeeze out the last drops, it pointed out."

READ MORE: The real environmental crisis for humanity goes far beyond climate change

“EOR itself leads to CO2 emissions both directly and indirectly,” the report said. “The direct impact is the emissions from the fuel used to compress and pump CO2 deep into the ground. The indirect impact is the emissions from burning the hydrocarbons that could now have come out without EOR.”

Bruce Robertson, who authored the institute's report, further explained researchers' findings. “Many international bodies and national government are relying on carbon capture in the fossil fuel sector to get to net zero, and it simply won’t work,” Robertson said.

The report also laid out the risks associated with the technology. "The risk is that CCS technology will be used to extend the life of fossil fuel infrastructure long past the cut off point for maintaining atmospheric carbon at less than catastrophic levels, the report suggested," the news outlet reported.

“Although [there is] some indication it might have a role to play in hard-to-abate sectors such as cement, fertilizers, and steel, overall results indicate a financial, technical and emissions-reduction framework that continues to overstate and underperform,” Robertson said.

READ MORE: The science everyone needs to know about climate change, in 6 charts

While this technology is still considered to be in the developmental phase, carbon capture and storage has been prioritized as a key element to obtain net zero carbon emissions in the United Kingdom by 2050. However, the latest report has faced some pushback. An official in Beis released a statement disputing the findings in the report.

“We are determined to make the UK a world leader in this field and are exploring the potential of CCS as part of our plans for industrial decarbonization,” the official said. “We are supporting this through our £1bn carbon capture infrastructure fund and have committed to establishing two CCS industrial clusters by the mid-2020s and a further two by 2030.”

READ MORE: Scientists warn that a 'climate endgame' is 'dangerously underexplored'

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