Jun 2, 2017

What America's dismissal of the Paris Agreement means for the energy sector

Waste Management
Green Energy
Sustainability
Nell Walker
3 min
What America's dismissal of the Paris Agreement means for the energy sector
President Donald Trump has confirmed that the USA will back out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, a global accord signed by 195 nations whereby those invo...

President Donald Trump has confirmed that the USA will back out of the 2015 Paris Agreement, a global accord signed by 195 nations whereby those involved agree to contribute towards the ongoing issue of climate change. Trump has stated in the past that he believes climate change to be a hoax created by China, and many members of his administration have also denied any problem.

CBI (The Confederation of British Industry) responded to Trump’s announcement and how it will impact the UK specifically; Michelle Hubert, Head of Energy and Infrastructure, said:

"The Paris Agreement is a climate deal agreed by the world's leaders that puts us on a sustainable low-carbon path and which can provide the framework for business to invest with confidence.

“It’s disappointing that President Trump has signalled his intention to withdraw the United States from the Agreement, but now is the time for governments to affirm their commitment to it by turning global ambition into national reality. By investing and innovating, British businesses will be at the heart of delivering a low-carbon economy, and will want to see domestic policies that demonstrate commitment to this goal.

“As other nations start to play a greater role and increase their ambition, the UK needs a level playing field for carbon costs, so that our energy intensive industries can compete effectively in a global, low-carbon marketplace.”

Frederik Dahlmann, Assistant Professor of Global Energy, also commented:

"If reports that President Trump is withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord turn out to be true, this decision to satisfy his campaign pledges will go down in history as significantly anachronistic and self-harming.

"At a time when costs in the renewable energy sector are falling significantly and clean tech employment is reaching record levels, the President’s decision ignores the very significant shifts occurring in the global energy system. Combined with other key economies’ desire (notably the EU and China) to accelerate rather than to stop these trends, politically the US will find itself in growing isolation, and face accusations of scientific ignorance and moral irresponsibility. 

"Fortunately for the US and the world at large, American businesses, communities, cities and states are already miles ahead in their assessment and responses to the threats posed by climate change.

"Just days after even the shareholders of the world’s largest public oil company ExxonMobil voted in favour of the fossil fuel giant analysing and disclosing the risks it faces due to climate change, so other companies are increasingly integrating proactive responses to climate change in their strategies by setting ambitious science-based carbon reduction targets and aiming to source their electricity almost exclusively from renewable sources.

"Put simply, the commercial and economic opportunities are already changing America’s competitive landscape such that if the White House does withdraw it will be largely seen as an unwelcome irritation, rather than a wholesale shift in the political economy.

"Still, the challenges of a global transition towards a low-carbon economy remain sizeable. American businesses and non-governmental stakeholders should therefore engage with their partners around the world to drive this process and truly live up to the President’s slogan."

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Jul 29, 2021

Carbon dioxide removal revenues worth £2bn a year by 2030

Energy
technology
CCUS
Netzero
Dominic Ellis
4 min
Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades says the UK's National Infrastructure Commission

Carbon dioxide removal revenues could reach £2bn a year by 2030 in the UK with costs per megatonne totalling up to £400 million, according to the National Infrastructure Commission

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become "a major new infrastructure sector" in the coming decades - although costs are uncertain given removal technologies are in their infancy - and revenues could match that of the UK’s water sector by 2050. The Commission’s analysis suggests engineered removals technologies need to have capacity to remove five to ten megatonnes of carbon dioxide no later than 2030, and between 40 and 100 megatonnes by 2050.

The Commission states technologies fit into two categories: extracting carbon dioxide directly out of the air; and bioenergy with carbon capture technology – processing biomass to recapture carbon dioxide absorbed as the fuel grew. In both cases, the captured CO2 is then stored permanently out of the atmosphere, typically under the seabed.

The report sets out how the engineered removal and storage of carbon dioxide offers the most realistic way to mitigate the final slice of emissions expected to remain by the 2040s from sources that don’t currently have a decarbonisation solution, like aviation and agriculture. 

It stresses that the potential of these technologies is “not an excuse to delay necessary action elsewhere” and cannot replace efforts to reduce emissions from sectors like road transport or power, where removals would be a more expensive alternative.  

The critical role these technologies will play in meeting climate targets means government must rapidly kick start the sector so that it becomes viable by the 2030s, according to the report, which was commissioned by government in November 2020. 

Early movement by the UK to develop the expertise and capacity in greenhouse gas removal technologies could create a comparative advantage, with the prospect of other countries needing to procure the knowledge and skills the UK develops.

The Commission recommends that government should support the development of this new sector in the short term with policies that drive delivery of these technologies and create demand through obligations on polluting industries, which will over time enable a competitive market to develop. Robust independent regulation must also be put in place from the start to help build public and investor confidence.

While the burden of these costs could be shared by different parts of industries required to pay for removals or in part shared with government, the report acknowledges that, over the longer term, the aim should be to have polluting sectors pay for removals they need to reach carbon targets.

Polluting industries are likely to pass a proportion of the costs onto consumers. While those with bigger household expenditures will pay more than those on lower incomes, the report underlines that government will need to identify ways of protecting vulnerable consumers and to decide where in relevant industry supply chains the costs should fall.

Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, Sir John Armitt, said taking steps to clean our air is something we’re going to have to get used to, just as we already manage our wastewater and household refuse. 

"While engineered removals will not be everyone’s favourite device in the toolkit, they are there for the hardest jobs. And in the overall project of mitigating our impact on the planet for the sake of generations to come, we need every tool we can find," he said.

“But to get close to having the sector operating where and when we need it to, the government needs to get ahead of the game now. The adaptive approach to market building we recommend will create the best environment for emerging technologies to develop quickly and show their worth, avoiding the need for government to pick winners. We know from the dramatic fall in the cost of renewables that this approach works and we must apply the lessons learned to this novel, but necessary, technology.” 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency estimate a global capacity for engineered removals of 2,000 to 16,000 megatonnes of carbon dioxide each year by 2050 will be needed in order to meet global reduction targets. 

Yesterday Summit Carbon Solutions received "a strategic investment" from John Deere to advance a major CCUS project (click here). The project will accelerate decarbonisation efforts across the agriculture industry by enabling the production of low carbon ethanol, resulting in the production of more sustainable food, feed, and fuel. Summit Carbon Solutions has partnered with 31 biorefineries across the Midwest United States to capture and permanently sequester their CO2 emissions.  

Cory Reed, President, Agriculture & Turf Division of John Deere, said: "Carbon neutral ethanol would have a positive impact on the environment and bolster the long-term sustainability of the agriculture industry. The work Summit Carbon Solutions is doing will be critical in delivering on these goals."

McKinsey highlights a number of CCUS methods which can drive CO2 to net zero:

  • Today’s leader: Enhanced oil recovery Among CO2 uses by industry, enhanced oil recovery leads the field. It accounts for around 90 percent of all CO2 usage today
  • Cementing in CO2 for the ages New processes could lock up CO2 permanently in concrete, “storing” CO2 in buildings, sidewalks, or anywhere else concrete is used
  • Carbon neutral fuel for jets Technically, CO2 could be used to create virtually any type of fuel. Through a chemical reaction, CO2 captured from industry can be combined with hydrogen to create synthetic gasoline, jet fuel, and diesel
  • Capturing CO2 from ambient air - anywhere Direct air capture (DAC) could push CO2 emissions into negative territory in a big way
  • The biomass-energy cycle: CO2 neutral or even negative Bioenergy with carbon capture and storage relies on nature to remove CO2 from the atmosphere for use elsewhere

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