Carbon dioxide can be stored to reduce climate change, says UN-backed group

26 September 2005

Capturing and storing the carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by power plants and factories before it enters the atmosphere could play a major role in minimizing climate change, according to a report released in Montreal today by an expert group launched by United Nations agencies.

“While the most important solutions to climate change will remain energy efficiency and cleaner energy sources, this new report demonstrates that capturing and storing carbon dioxide can supplement these other efforts” said Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP).

“Since emissions of carbon dioxide – the most important cause of climate change – continue to rise in many parts of the world, it is vital that we exploit every available option for reducing their impact on the global climate,” added Secretary-General Michel Jarraud of the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

The assessment was released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an expert group which was launched in 1988 by UNEP and WMO.

According to studies looked at in the assessment, the capture and storage of CO2 in geological formations could account for 15-55 per cent of all emission reductions needed to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere between now and 2100.

Many components of carbon dioxide capture and storage technology are already mature, including several applications that inject the gas into geological formations. However, UNEP said, the process could be limited by several important non-technology constraints. In particular, unless Governments adopt climate change policies that put a cost on emitting CO2, there will be no incentive to use these technologies.

Furthermore, while the available storage capacity in geological reservoirs is likely to be sufficient, according to the report, the true amount is yet uncertain. This is particularly so in regions which are experiencing rapid economic growth, such as South and East Asia.

The “IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage” was written by 100 experts from over 30 countries and reviewed by other experts and Governments. It was requested by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

 

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