Unleashing the power of decarbonisation technologies
By Joseph McMonigle, Secretary General, International Energy Forum (IEF)
As the demand for oil and gas continues to grow worldwide, the urgency of deploying decarbonisation technologies has never been greater.
Notwithstanding the high readiness levels of carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) technologies and support by individual governments, only around 40 million tons of carbon dioxide per year is abated today.
This figure should rise to at least 7.6 Gigatons per year by 2050 if we are to have any chance of meeting our climate goals, according to a recent IEF analysis based on the most recent IPCC assessment. This leaves a gigantic abatement gap of 7.56 Gt that will not be overcome at current investment and deployment rates.
Indeed, the current abatement gap is more likely to widen than to narrow. Fundamental shifts in strained global energy markets will increase carbon emissions in the face of unprecedented energy market volatility and rising energy poverty rates.
Global commitment to accelerate carbon management
This makes a global commitment to accelerate carbon management even more important now and it was therefore timely that the US government announced the Carbon Management Challenge in April.
The recent advances in this technology, spurred by the US Inflation Reduction Act and other incentive schemes, have also paved the way for more widespread adoption.
US President Joe Biden announced the challenge at a meeting of other leaders at the Major Economies Forum and is expected to launch the project with several supporting governments and organisations, including the International Energy Forum, at the UN Climate Summit (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates later this year.
At the IEF, we are committed to working with our 72 member countries to make real progress on CCUS adoption, to encourage countries to rapidly accelerate projects, which are mostly centred around industrial clusters and connected to storage sites in disused oil and gas fields.
Other more experimental CCUS technologies are also getting a boost, such as direct air capture and enhanced weathering.
Carbon abatement technologies
The advantage of CCUS is that these technologies cut CO2 emissions while at the same time preserving our standard of living through affordable and reliable energy. Carbon abatement technologies hold out the hope of addressing both the climate challenge and the energy crisis.
Carbon management technologies are not a substitute for accelerating other efforts to tackle climate change including scaling up renewables and nuclear power, and putting a stop to deforestation. But they will help us to meet our twin goals of climate security and energy security more quickly.
Notwithstanding progress made, viable CCUS projects still take too long to reach final investment decisions. Strong and clear long-term policy support is especially important now to enable industry to scale innovations and operations that move CCUS “from the mega to the giga” in order of magnitude worldwide.
Though momentum is building, policy support and industry strategies remain too fragile and scattered for CCUS to enable just and orderly transitions or fulfil the role that the IPCC and other key international organisations assign to it.
The carbon management challenge will allow governments to implement net zero climate ambitions faster and more comprehensively while reducing costs to consumers and stabilising markets.
These technologies could also help to accelerate the quest for hydrogen and materials transitions and expand solutions to achieve other abatement goals, such as the Global Methane Pledge as well.
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