Greater investment in technology that removes existing carbon dioxide from the air and oceans is critical to reducing global warming, says new research released during Climate Week NYC 2020.

Net Zero and Geospheric Return: Actions Today for 2030 and Beyond, from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA and the Global CCS Institute, says the world needs to go further than reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released to generate power and produce industrial products like cement, steel, chemicals and hydrogen.

The report recommends climate finance policies and technologies will need to grow rapidly within the next 10 years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and decarbonise the global economy.

It finds that the deployment of innovative carbon removal technology and strong climate policy will require a global effort over the next 10 years to be a true success, and recommends immediate actions needed to achieve net-zero global emissions at lowest cost and greatest speed, including:

  • Investments in transportation and infrastructure: Estimates suggest that the 8,000km (5,000mi) of existing carbon dioxide pipelines in North America must be expanded by an additional 35,000km (21,000mi) to maximise emissions reduction. Similarly, industrial hubs and clusters, now under development in Europe, China, and the Middle East, can accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage at reduced cost. More storage sites and shipping options must be assessed and approved.
  • Investments in carbon capture and storage projects: Currently, there are 19 large-scale industrial and two large-scale power facilities that capture and store carbon emissions at their source, with combined capacity of about 40 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. There are an additional 20 similar projects under development. The International Energy Agency (IEA), IPCC and many other groups estimate these types of carbon capture and storage projects must increase by a factor of 35 from today to mitigate the needed 1.5 gigatonnes per year by 2030, and stay on a course to keep global warming to a 1.5 o C increase by 2030.
  • Market-Alignment Through Policy: Clear climate policies which reduce the financial and regulatory risk of carbon dioxide capture and storage projects and increase storage options need to be developed and implemented to attract private capital, encourage research, development and deployment projects and bring new technology to market more quickly.

“The climate action efforts we’re seeing globally, while encouraging, are not enough,” said Brad Page, CEO of the Global CCS Institute.

“The findings in this report illustrate that both government and industry will need to work diligently within the next ten years to significantly reduce emissions.”

“The sooner we include carbon, capture and storage (CCS) technologies into the fold of wide-spread decarbonisation initiatives, the more likely we’ll be able achieve Paris Agreement climate targets and get to net zero emissions.”

“Critically, this report reveals that without the accelerated deployment of CCS, global climate targets will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to reach.”

“The deep decarbonisation of heavy industry requires a technology that’s proven, effective and versatile. CCS is tailored for the job.”