Carbon capture and storage: delivering on climate targets

Carbon capture and storage is delivering on climate targets
© Ilya Plekhanov

The Global CCS Institute’s Executive Adviser for Europe, John Scowcroft, spoke about the role of CCS in delivering on climate targets, the funding required to support the deployment of the technology and the role of the institute and its members.

For nearly half a century, carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS) has been in commercial operation, whereby CO2 is captured and stored deep below land level. The purpose of this activity is to limit the amount of carbon dioxide emissions released into the atmosphere. The Global CCS Institute is an international member-led organisation, which seeks to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) as an imperative tool in addressing global warming, delivering on climate targets and ensuring energy security.

With members including Shell, BHP, China Steel Corporation, governments, research bodies, amongst others, the Global CCS Institute provides expertise and specialist resources, in order to support its members and other key stakeholders with reliable insights into CCS.

Government Europa spoke to the institute’s Executive Adviser for Europe, John Scowcroft, about the role of CCS in delivering on climate targets, the funding required to support the deployment of the technology and the role of the institute and its members.

Delivering on climate targets

By looking in detail at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s ‘Fifth Assessment Report’ (AR5) and other reports from the International Energy Agency (IEA), it is clear that CCS is the only economic way to deliver our commitment to reducing the global temperature to below 2°C, or even 1.5°C, John Scowcroft said.

He added: “The IPCC found that without CCS, to try and reach 2°C, the cost of climate mitigation action is going to be over 138% more expensive. In fact, some of the models couldn’t even achieve decarbonisation targets without CCS. In our view, CCS has a critical role to play and should be part of a whole suite of technologies to reduce global CO2 emissions. It is probably the only hope we have in meeting the Paris targets in an economic way.”

Ensuring funding for CCS technologies

“Achieving a global temperature of below 2°C, and net zero emissions by the next half of the century, is not achievable nor feasible without CCS. As a result, bioenergy and carbon storage (bio-CCS) and direct air capture will be needed. It’s absolutely essential that CCS is commercially available well before 2050”, Scowcroft added.

“How pressing is investment for CCS? Very pressing. In the UK’s Clean Growth Strategy, the UK government aims to have CCS commercially deployable by the 2030s. By considering the amount of time it takes firstly to build, and secondly to operate, structures such as CCS – around ten years – then it is crucial that we begin now.”

“There is no one size fits all solution. CCS should be included in a portfolio of clean technologies, along with renewables and other technologies, to deliver a decarbonised power industry.” In order to facilitate this, a large amount of dispatchable power is required and it is highly likely to be carbon based, unless strong development of batteries is furthered.

CCS will play an important part in that. Therefore, we need to have funding arrangements that will drive the deployment of the technology.” Europe has implemented support mechanisms which have brought reductions in price for renewables, and to that effect, a similar support mechanism could be plausible for CCS.

“Governments need to be involved. Renewables have a strong network in place. When offshore windfarms are built, they are subsequently connected to the national, or European, grid and provide a source of electricity. A similar network does not yet exist for CCS. As governments build roads and electricity networks, a similar approach should be undertaken where governments need to have some kind of involvement in ensuring networks for CCS are deployed. This requires CCS transport and storage infrastructure to be in place.”

The distribution of funding

Scowcroft furthered: “From a European point of view, the main challenge is the allocation of risk – financial risk and liability – for long-term storage.” There are risks that both the industry and governments are unwilling to take.

Once uncertainty around this is overcome, discussions can take place on how to deliver funding for future CCS projects. “If you look at all the projects which have not gone through over the last ten years, one of the issues was the allocation of risk between various parties involved.”

A European approach to geological storage of CO2

Upon review of the ‘Directive on geological storage of carbon dioxide’ in 2015, Scowcroft said: “Given that there were no projects using the directive, there was no real need to amend it. But certainly, the liability part of the directive is the most difficult part of it.” Owing to the directive’s composition, he suggested that the risk is in such a place that consequently makes it more difficult for projects to acquire the long-term finance they require. “Therefore, one of the things that needs to be revisited is the question of long-term liability.”

What’s next for CCS in Europe?

“There have been interesting developments for CCS in Europe, notably in the Netherlands with the Port of Rotterdam backbone project and in Norway with the Oslo full-scale CCS project. The UK has also been very supportive of the technology. In fact, the Global CCS Institute is involved in the UK’s CCUS Cost Reduction Taskforce that will advise the UK government on what is needed to reduce the cost of CCS and how to make it commercially available for operation by 2020s.”

The role of the Global CCS Institute

“The members of the Global CCS Institute are wide ranging. Our mission is to accelerate the deployment of CCS to tackle climate change and meet the Paris agreement targets.”

Active in the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF), the Mission Innovation Ministerial and other key forums, the Global CCS Institute works to reflect the interests of its members and to provide solutions which will drive CCS forward. “All of the Institute’s members, being government or industry, want to deploy CCS. Our job is to turn that into advocacy and communication, which will enable people, not only the policy makers, to understand where we need to go to ensure we’re delivering on climate targets and the pivotal role CCS has to play in achieving this.”

John Scowcroft
Executive Adviser, Europe
Global CCS Institute
Tweet @GlobalCCS


  1. If we took emissions reductions seriously and set about a social solution we might get somewhere. Techno fixes are a distraction until we have exhausted obvious measures to cut the behviours down that are not necessary which cause emissions. Air travel, private car travel, excess consumption and fossil fueled machines for gardening, building, farming etc… Is this too obvious or what? Bob Smith


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