Given that oil and gas producers dominate the sector, many environmental groups and civil society organizations suspect that investments in Carbon, Capture and Storage (CCS) are being used to divert attention and resources away from a quicker build-out of renewable energy systems and other proven methods of addressing climate change. At the end of 2022, as several of the world’s largest petrochemical firms announced ambitious CCS investment plans, the European Union finally released a draft of their proposed CCS framework. As lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum discusses, hundreds of environmental, climate and civil society groups, including the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, immediately deemed it a “smokescreen for inaction.”
The U.S.’ Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) has been hailed as both a jobs-creating infrastructure stimulus and a clean energy booster. To ensure bi-partisan support in the otherwise polarized United States, it also provides generous tax credits for investments in carbon capture and sequestration or carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Beyond the $12 billion in other government support for CCS, bonus funds are now available to prove out experimental “Direct Air Capture” (DAC) technology. Recently Airbus bought 400,000 tons of carbon removal credits from a planned DAC facility in Texas’ oil-soaked Permian Basin. When operational in 2024, owner Occidental Petroleum promises it will be capable of sucking one million tons of CO2 out of the sky every year. And as lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews, Oxy will then use that CO2 to produce millions of barrels of climate friendlier “net-zero oil.” Confused? Welcome to America’s suck rush.
Despite our awareness that burning fossil fuels is the biggest driver of climate change, CO2 emissions likely increased by another 1.0% in 2022, hitting a new record high of 36.6bn tonnes. While certainly it would be better to switch to low or no-carbon energy sources, another potential solution, one mainly championed by the oil and gas industry, is to capture as much CO2 as possible and store it underground. Though scientists begrudgingly accept that some mixture of carbon capture and storage (CCS) systems will need to be deployed to avoid dangerous global heating, to date it’s unclear if the technology actually works. Worse, the vast majority of operating CCS plants actually use captured CO2 to produce more oil. But seen as critical to the emerging hydrogen economy as well as solving climate change, with dozens of new CCS projects announced worldwide this year, in this three-part series, lead blogger and podcaster Michael Buchsbaum reviews the scene.
Tellingly, it was concern about the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), the EU’s proposed carbon tariff on carbon-intensive products, that pushed Moscow to get more serious about lowering emissions. Paul Hockenos investigates.
Achieving the goals of the European Green Deal and striking climate neutrality by 2050 means transforming the entire mobility sector, which currently makes up nearly 30 percent of the bloc’s CO2 emissions. To help steer readers in the right direction, the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung’s (hbs) new 2021 European Mobility Atlas provides a host of fact-based recommendations from sector experts. As 2021 is also the European Year of Rail, many of the Atlas’ graphics focus on this key sector, including the impacts of enhanced night-train service and more continent-wide cross-border connections. Franz Timmermans, Executive Vice President of the European Commission for the European Green Deal, dubbed the publication a “fantastic resource,” and underscored that “the more people who know about this, the more successful we’ll be.” A review by L. Michael Buchsbaum.
Though increasingly framed as a key way to slow climate change, for most commercial Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) operations, selling the carbon they capture to produce more fossil fuels through Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) production is the only way they can ensure profits for investors. According to a count by the Global CCS Institute, of the 28 currently operable CCS complexes worldwide, 22 rely on EOR as their back end “storage” system. CCS advocates hope that under the right public policy regimes, this profit-making motive will help scale up CCS operations while driving costs down. Getting the public onboard means selling CCS as a way to prevent climate change, but who pays when they fail? L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews one of 2020’s biggest CCS disasters as the fourth part of the on-going Seduction series.
Touted as a key component within many emerging national net-zero emissions strategies, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) received a huge credibility boost from several recent IPCC and IEA studies. But CCS’ greatest advantage is that it enables oil majors to have a market in an otherwise decarbonized economy. What it doesn’t do is stop the pollution stream. Framed as a climate solution, in fact most current and planned projects use the CO2 they capture to produce more fossil fuels through various enhanced oil recovery (EOR) schemes. As part of an ongoing series deconstructing CCS, L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews some recent history.
Though Trump promised to save America’s coal industry, the latter appears to be in worse shape than ever. Over a dozen coal companies have filed for bankruptcy over the past two years and as investors pour resources into green energy instead, the U.S. Energy Information Agency now projects that renewables will overtake coal this year for the first time. However, cheap fracked gas is flooding the coal space. During the presidential campaign America’s gas burn has soared. In the second piece of an on-going series, our lead blogger, L. Michael Buchsbaum, looks at coal’s collapse in the United States.
New data reveals that for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the world’s fleet of coal-fired power stations has grown smaller. With economies in Covid-19’s grip, more coal capacity was retired during the first half of 2020 than the amount that came online. Though terrible for the climate, make no mistake, King Coal’s reign isn’t ending just for environmental reasons. Coal has become bad for business and banks are starting to freeze investments. L. Michael Buchsbaum takes a deeper look in the first of his Playing Out of Coal series.
In the 2020 American elections, neither the Democrats nor the climate achieved the clear victory for which many of us wished. But across party lines, voters are demanding action to address the nation’s rapidly changing climate. In several cities and states, particularly out west—voters demanded energy progress. Given how divided Washington remains, these subnational decisions may enable regional carbon neutrality to progress faster while providing actionable models for the entire nation to follow. L. Michael Buchsbaum reviews the election results.