Carbon Capture: The Controversial Climate Solution Dividing the World

by Victor Adetimilehin

Amid the countdown to the U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP28), a contentious debate is raging across the globe, with high-profile figures like Bill Gates and the Pope weighing in on the efficacy of carbon capture technologies. From the halls of power to environmental organizations, the discussion is fierce, with opinions divided on whether carbon capture can truly combat climate change.

Carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) is at the forefront of this debate. CCUS is a process that captures carbon dioxide emissions from various sources, preventing them from entering the atmosphere. It encompasses technologies like direct air capture, which extracts CO2 directly from the air. The promise of CCUS lies in its potential to mitigate emissions, but its practicality and cost-effectiveness have raised questions.

At a recent oil and gas conference in Abu Dhabi, Lorenzo Simonelli, the CEO of Baker Hughes, expressed optimism about the future of carbon capture. He cited recent policy changes, such as the Inflation Reduction Act in the United States and European initiatives, as catalysts for scaling up CCUS efforts. Simonelli revealed that a substantial portion of their orders is now related to CCUS technologies.

While advocates like Simonelli see promise in CCUS, critics have voiced skepticism. Greenpeace, for instance, argues that carbon capture is not truly zero carbon, lacks scalability, and is sometimes used as a greenwashing tactic by oil and gas companies. They argue that it should not be prioritized in green industrial strategies.

Bill Gates, a prominent supporter of direct air capture, defends his stance by funding companies like Climeworks. He argues that his investments and initiatives contribute to the solution rather than the problem. However, the efficacy and scalability of such technologies remain subjects of debate.

Former BP CEO Bob Dudley emphasizes the role of CCUS in the broader energy transition. He believes that, to meet climate goals, various energy sources, including natural gas, must play a role, provided they are cleaned up. Dudley argues that CCUS is not merely a tool for the oil and gas industry but a crucial component of the path to decarbonization.

Pope Francis, in his recent letter titled “Laudate Deum,” acknowledges the potential of technology to address climate change but warns against over-reliance on technical interventions. He cautions against assuming that future problems can be entirely solved by new technologies, likening it to “pushing a snowball down a hill.”

As the world prepares for COP28, the debate over carbon capture’s role in combating climate change rages on. With passionate advocates and fervent critics, the future of CCUS remains uncertain, but one thing is clear: it will continue to be a focal point in discussions about safeguarding the planet’s future.

Source: [CNBC]

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