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“Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) will not address the core drivers of the climate crisis or meaningfully reduce GHG emissions, and should not distract from real climate solutions,” according to CIEL (Center for International Environmental Law).

(This article was sourced (with permission) from CIEL — the Center for International Environmental Law.)

In a recent open letter, over 500 organizations are calling on US and Canadian leaders to reject Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) as a false solution to the climate crisis. A Press Release by the group was published in both Washington, DC and Ottawa.

What is carbon capture and storage?

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) are processes designed to collect or “capture” carbon dioxide generated by high-emitting activities like coal- or gas-fired power production or plastics manufacturing. Those captured emissions are then transported to sites where they are used for industrial processes or stored underground.

While both are proposed as technologies to meet global energy and climate goals, CCS and CCUS will not address these core drivers of the climate crisis or meaningfully reduce greenhouse emissions, and should not distract from real climate solutions.

CCS does not remove carbon from the atmosphere. At best, CCS prevents some emissions caused by the combustion of carbon-based fuels from reaching the atmosphere — provided that the captured gases are not later released.

In practice, CCS is a death sentence to the planet:
  • Masks the harmful carbon emissions from the underlying source, enabling that source to continue operating rather than being replaced altogether.
  • Generates additional risks, impacts, and costs associated with CCS infrastructure, such as pipelines.
  • Exacerbates global warming by boosting oil production and prolonging the fossil fuel era.

Open letter to policymakers

On July 19th, 2021, over 500 international, US, and Canadian organizations sent an open letter to policymakers calling on them to “reject carbon capture and storage.” The letter was accompanied by ads in The Washington Post and The Hill Times.

Read the full open letters to US and Canadian policymakers.
Read statements from organizational leaders  on the dangers of carbon capture.
See the ads in The Washington Post and Ottawa’s The Hill Times.

It’s Time To End the Carbon Capture of Climate Policy

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS): A Death Sentence For the Planet, Below2C

The open letters lay out seven reasons why policymakers must reject CCS:
  1. The buildout of CCS infrastructure presents serious health, safety, and environmental risks. Marginalized communities already overburdened by industrial hazards are being targeted for CCS.
  • Transporting and storing carbon dioxide (CO2) involves a massive network of perilous pipelines connected to underground injection sites, each with its own set of dangers.
  • Pipelines can leak or rupture.
  • Compressed CO2 is highly hazardous upon release and can result in the asphyxiation of humans and animals.
  • Underground storage poses additional risks, such as potential leakage, contamination of drinking water, and stimulation of seismic activity.
  1. CCS is not consistent with the principles of environmental justice.
  • Pollution-burdened communities are being targeted for CCS, which brings new risks and threats, ironically in the name of environmental justice.
  • Such a buildout would impose new pollution and safety hazards on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities already suffering the disproportionate and deadly impacts of environmental racism.
  1. Rather than replacing fossil fuels, carbon capture technology prolongs our dependence on them.
  • Putting carbon capture technology on greenhouse-gas emitting facilities enables those facilities to continue operating and polluting indefinitely.
  • The additional energy required to power the carbon capture process generates even more emissions if supplied by fossil fuels.
  1. The majority of captured carbon is used to pump more oil out of the ground.
  • Almost all existing CCS projects are tied to “enhanced oil recovery” (EOR).
  • In EOR, CO2 is injected into depleted underground oil reservoirs to boost oil production.
  • EOR is currently the primary market driver for captured CO2.
  1. There is no economic rationale for the massive deployment of CCS.
  • The push to deploy CCS in the industrial sector ignores the most important alternative methods for curtailing the vast majority of the sector’s emissions.
  • Investing in CCS infrastructure add-ons to existing facilities locks those facilities and their current energy technologies in place.
  • It diverts resources from non-polluting alternatives that are compatible with a safe climate future.
  1. CCS does not remove CO2 from the atmosphere. At best, it prevents some carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.
  • CCS projects implemented to date have systematically overpromised and under-delivered on emissions reductions.
  1. Science and existing regulations do not back the promise of “permanent” storage or sequestration of carbon.
  • CO2 lingers in the atmosphere and environment on a geological time scale — for hundreds or even thousands of years.
  • Current US federal regulations, for example, only require storage of CO2 for 50 years to qualify for subsidies.
  • CO2 injected underground will be safely contained in perpetuity is irresponsible at best. It merely kicks the can down a very short road, to be a burden to the next generation.

Statement by Environmental Defence Canada

“Carbon capture is being used as a Trojan horse by oil and gas executives to continue, and even expand, fossil fuel production. It’s a dangerous distraction driven by the same polluters who created the climate emergency. The Government of Canada should not use any kind of financial support or tax incentive to prop up false climate solutions that only serve to delay the necessary transition off of fossil fuels. Instead, we should be focused on real climate solutions including renewable energy and energy efficiency that are job-creating, safe, affordable and ready to be deployed.” — Julia Levin, Senior Climate and Energy Program Manager

Despite occupying center stage in the “net-zero” climate plans trumpeted by the United States and Canada (at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate), and despite government spending programs, and bills pending before both Congress and Parliament, carbon capture is not a climate solution. On the contrary, investing in carbon capture delays the needed transition away from fossil fuels and other combustible energy sources. 

Key Links:

Full brief: Confronting the Myth of Carbon-Free Fossil Fuels
Short version: Confronting the Myth
Read:  Press releaseQuote sheet
Read the letters: US letter and Canada letter
View the Washington Post and Hill Times ads

Message to Justin Trudeau: Canada’s on Fire – Act Like It
Accelerating Climate Impacts Setting Off Alarm Bells Worldwide

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.Creative Commons License

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  1. This is absolutely correct!

    Perhaps the best book about the environment is The New Climate War by Dr. Michael Mann because it includes information about distractions, misinformation campaigns, and false solutions.

    Among the false solutions are natural gas, “clean” coal, nuclear, geo-engineering, hydrogen, and pulling carbon dioxide out of the air. All are designed to allow fossil fuel energy to keep polluting with the false expectation that a mythical mystery solution will save us all so we don’t have to take any action now. See references 5089, 5111, 5118, 5144 of this article:

    • Ed – thank you for sharing that piece once again. I’m aware of Mann’s new book and will be reading it soon. There’s always a backlog of books I want and need to get to.

      I was looking down the hundreds of references in the link you shared. What an impressive array of articles, some of which have been posted in Below2C

      Many thanks for that. Please let me know if you’re interested in doing a few posts for Below2C.Org.


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