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UNECE member States adopt recommendations on Carbon Capture and Storage on the road to the Paris Climate Conference

Published: 25 November 2014

UNECE member States agreed on recommendations to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) on how Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and CCS for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) should be treated in a Post-Kyoto Protocol Agreement. The agreement was made on 20 November during the annual meeting of the UNECE Committee on Sustainable Energy held in Geneva (19-21 November).

UNECE member States requested the UNECE Executive Secretary to submit the recommendations to the UNFCCC secretariat for further action. The twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC COP 21) will be held in Paris, December 2015, with the goal to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change. UNECE member countries were also called upon to consider the recommendations for their own purposes.

UNECE recommends that the following elements be considered in the post-Kyoto Protocol agreement:

  • CCS mitigation has been formally adopted as an environmentally sound technology within the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC as well as made an eligible project level activity within its associated carbon markets and funding arrangements (including the Green Climate Fund). These outcomes must be preserved in a post-Kyoto international agreement.
  • The current policy setting for CCS is insufficient to support commercial development. It is critical that national and international policies on CCS and Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS) activities have parity with other no carbon/low carbon technologies regarding their climate mitigation potential.

  • A post-Kyoto international agreement should accept a broad array of fiscal instruments to encourage CCS/CCUS, but the selection of instruments should be left to the discretion of national governments.
  • A post-Kyoto international agreement must recognize that capturing and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) from all industrial sectors will be essential to reach climate goals. Cement, steel, chemicals, refining and transportation are among many sectors that must be addressed in a manner similar to the energy sector and in a way that assuages concerns about effects on international competitiveness.
  • CCS/CCUS deployment will accelerate if governments work together to financially sponsor demonstration projects.
  • It is crucial that CO2 injected into reservoirs for enhanced hydrocarbon recovery be treated as storage if the CO2 is stored permanently. Measurement, reporting, and verification will be needed to establish that the CO2 is permanently stored. Properly addressing CCS/CCUS in an international agreement may be one of the few strategies to enable progress toward rapid deployment of CCS as an important part of global CO2 emission reduction activities.

UNECE Executive Secretary, Christian Friis Bach, observed: “The IPCC Fifth Assessment Synthesis Report highlights that without CCS the cost of climate mitigation would increase by 138%. CCS therefore has a vital role to play as part of an economically sustainable route to deep emissions cuts.  UNECE stands ready to develop and promote international standards required for the efficient achievement of CCS and CCUS.”

Barry Worthington, Executive Director, United States Energy Association, and Chair, UNECE Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Fossil Fuels, stated “These recommendations are the culmination of an extensive consultation process with technical experts from around the world. They provide a strong message to UNFCCC that CCS will be required to meet mid-century climate targets and must be recognized in a post-Kyoto international agreement. I am proud to have been involved.”

A copy of the full text of the Recommendations is available on the UNECE website.

Note to editors

These Recommendations have been prepared by UNECE’s Group of Experts on Cleaner Electricity Production from Fossil Fuels, following an extended global consultation process.

According to the most internationally credible projections and forecasts, fossil fuel use will grow significantly by mid-century. Even if Western Europe and North America reduce their fossil fuel consumption, fossil energy use in the rest of the world will expand. Without additional efforts to decouple the growth in GHG emissions from growth in global population and economic activity, emissions levels will continue to grow.

According to the International Energy Agency, If the world is to succeed in constraining CO2 emissions to levels consistent with a less than 2°C rise in global temperatures, then CCS will need to contribute about one-sixth of needed CO2 emission reductions in 2050, and 14% of the cumulative emissions reductions between 2015 and 2050 compared to a business-as-usual approach. It is the only technology option other than energy efficiency and shifting the primary energy mix to lower carbon fuels that can deliver net emissions reductions at the required scale.

Given the rapid growth in energy demand in developing countries over this period, the largest deployment of CCS will need to occur in non-OECD countries. OECD countries will need to show leadership in validating the technologies with both research and development and commercial-scale demonstration and assisting in deploying them at scale. By 2050, non-OECD countries are expected to account for 70% of the total cumulative mass of captured CO2.

Given the magnitude of CO2 emissions from coal and natural gas-fired electricity generation, the greatest potential for CCS is in the power sector. However, CCS is not only about electricity generation. Around 45% of the CO2 captured between 2015 and 2050 in the 2°C scenario is from industrial applications that cannot be replaced by renewable technology. In this scenario, between 25% and 40% of the global production of steel, cement and chemicals would have to be equipped with CCS by 2050 (source: IEA).

Particular attention should be given to permitting environmentally-sound technical solutions and safe geological storage sites that create conditions for public acceptance.

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