Carbon capture storage: Politically correct, technically incorrect?

Some technologies are inferior technically but politically convenient. According to a panel reviewing carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) as a climate change mitigation option CCS is one such case.

CCS involves trapping the gas at coal- or gas-fired  power stations,  steel and cement factories, and refineries; transporting it to a storage site; and then injecting into rocks underground.

CCS is yet to be proven to work anywhere, says Asbjorn Torvanger, from the Centre for International Climate and Environmental Research (CICERO), Norway.

Besides, it could lead to “fossil fuel lock-in” – that is,  far from reducing fossil fuel use, CCS relies on it, points out Philip Vergraft from Clark University, United States.

So why is the UNFCCC considering it (read the blog below on the next IPCC report)? Because that is the only way to draw the United States, Canada, Australia and other fossil fuel-dependent countries averse to the Kyoto Protocol, to the climate change table.

These countries are heavily investing in CCS R&D. China and India are attracted to CCS and are attracting partners.

Which is fine, because one should consider all options. Except that even in advanced countries such as Norway, the public is not comfortable with the idea.  “If public concerns are not adequately incorporated, controversy, mistrust and skepticism  may increase, says James Stephens from the International Development Community and Environment (IDCE) at Clark University, United States.

Transparency and critical independent experts are needed to improve, rather than promote, the technology at this stage, he adds.

Hope someone hears the message.

T V Padma, South Asia Regional Coordinator, SciDev.Net

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