Can Carbon Capture Stop Climate Change?

by Kunaal Venugopal

Carbon Capturing is the process of capturing Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and storing it where it cannot get out, typically deep underground. However, the CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) movement has not gained much traction, even with the first CCS projects dating back to 1996 in Norway. The International Energy Agency set a goal that 23,500 million tons of CO2 should be captured and stored by the end of the decade, but just 2 percent of this goal has been reached thus far.

Why has Carbon Capturing and Storage not been readily adopted across the world?

A major concern with Carbon Capture is the substantial cost it has in the short-term. In the long-term, CO2 that is stored deep underground may eventually leak, which would lead to a plethora of problems, including the question of who would have to pay to fix the leaks. Furthermore, the risks of leaks are exaggerated by those who fear fossil fuels and believe that CCS is not a viable solution to the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. Many also relate CCS to fracking due to the underground aspect. Fracking has a much higher risk than CCS, as it can lead to earthquakes and oil spills, while CCS leaks could only put CO2 in the atmosphere that would have been there without CCS.

Ultimately, when considering solutions to greenhouse gas emissions, we must consider the most effective yet feasible option. For industrial plants, for example, CCS is the only solution to reducing emissions. When taking into account a cost-benefit analysis of CCS, the potential of reducing a significant amount of emissions with the risk of leaks outweighs the option of allowing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere without mitigation attempts. However, with the exponential rise in greenhouse gas emissions in the world, we must ask ourselves if Carbon Capturing and Storage is the solution.