Carbon capture must be part of climate change solution – Lord Oxburgh

Large-scale adoption of carbon capture and storage will be the only way to prevent a huge rise in emissions as developing economies turn to coal to drive their industrial growth.

This was the central message of Lord Ron Oxburgh, president of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association and former scientific advisor to Government, when he spoke at Energy & environment 2009 in London this week.

He said that the USA, China and India, three of the world’s biggest energy importers, had very limited oil and gas reserves compared with much of the rest of the world but some of the largest coal reserves.

“That coal is going to be burned,” he said.

“In the USA because of energy security, and in India and China because they don’t have anything else.”

While European efforts to build CCS into power plants are welcome, he added, it will be the choices made in developing economies that will have the largest impact on global emissions.

He described how fossil fuels had driven the rapid growth of the West during the 20th century and how increasing affluence in parts of the developing world was leading to a rise in global energy consumption and associated greenhouse gas emissions.

He said a whole variety of measures needed to be taken to get us back on track, from addressing energy efficiency to changing the face of agriculture and forestry.

They are not options from which to pick and chose, he argued, and we have to do them all and part of this package must be CCS.

“Fundamentally the reason for CCs is China and India and other developing economies that are going to depend on coal,” he said.

Financial and technical barriers have to be overcome and the West will likely have to pick up the bill.

Sam Bond

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