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Carbon Capture and the IPCC 1.5C Report
Carbon Capture and the IPCC 1.5C Report
In Paris in 2015, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was tasked with developing a report (Special Report 15 or SR15) examining ways to limit global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius and the impacts of meeting or missing that goal. That report was issued in October 2018 and will be the focus of much of the discussion at the Conference of the Parties 24 meeting in Katowice, Poland from December 2-14, 2018.
The report states that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak by 2020, fall by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050 to meet the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The report concludes that the global climate is already changing; missing the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will exacerbate current changes in temperatures as well as drought and rainfall in areas across the globe.
The report outlines four potential pathways to achieving the 1.5 degree Celsius goal. Three of the pathways require carbon capture technologies to support necessary emissions reductions; further, the report concludes that not using carbon capture technologies will significantly raise the costs of meeting the global temperature goal.
As the Global CCS Institute concluded in their analysis of the report, “There is an overwhelming consensus in SR15 that CCS [carbon capture and storage] is a critical technology to meet climate change targets.”
The report notes that carbon capture technology is mature, sufficient storage resources exist today and the technology can be applied widely (including for use in industrial applications, which are cited specifically in many of the models).
The report underscores the fact that carbon capture is the only available clean technology to decarbonize certain key industry sectors, citing its role in addressing emissions from cement and steel manufacturing.
The report also declares that carbon capture and carbon removal applications will need to ramp up dramatically. It concludes that carbon dioxide removal (CDR), or removing CO2 from the atmosphere, will be required in any scenario to meet emissions reductions targets.
The report calls for BECCS (bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or the conversion of biomass feedstocks into heat or fuel and capturing and storing the CO2 emitted in the process) to play the largest role in carbon removal, along with contributions from forestry and ocean management and direct capture.
Note: There are currently 18 large-scale carbon capture and storage facilities in operation around the globe with five more under construction, according to the Global CCS Institute.
Why This Matters
Achieving the goal of limiting global temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius requires meeting the needs of a growing global population and world economy while decarbonizing energy and industrial production. As the IPCC report makes clear, that will not happen without widescale deployment of carbon capture across multiple economic sectors. Therefore:
Any feasible scenario for achieving midcentury emissions reduction goals must include a significant role for carbon capture and carbon removal technologies.
Federal legislation such as the USE IT Act and other initiatives must be enacted quickly to boost the continued development and deployment of carbon capture technologies and infrastructure in the United States.
Federal agency support for carbon capture research and development is critical to supporting the long-term potential of the carbon capture industry to help meet emissions reductions targets.
With the right framework of federal and state deployment incentives, support for research, development and demonstration, and other policies, the U.S. can continue to the lead the world in the capture, beneficial use and safe and permanent geologic storage of CO2.