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Carbon Dioxide Capture Needs to Grow Big

Last week, the head of the CCS think tank said the nascent industry that stores and captures Carbon Dioxide has to improve to the oil industry’s size much faster than oil. Brad Page, head of Global CCS Institute, said, “We have an uncomfortable reality, quite frankly. It’s very hard to get away from needing carbon capture and storage both to avoid emissions and also to be a significant part of Carbon Dioxide removal (CDR).”

He said that CDR alone would require an industry the size of the current oil and gas industry. However, he says that it needs to operate in reverse. It is also worth remembering that the oil industry has been built over 100 years in many countries. It is not a small challenge. Each year, the oil industry moves almost five gigatons of oil and gas. It is not the weight of the Carbon Dioxide it emits but the weight of the gas and oil that it moves.

To meet the climate goals, the world needs to remove nearly that weight of Carbon Dioxide – 5 to 10 gigatons – from the atmosphere every year. That is almost five times the weight of the material produced annually by the global plastics industry. With many initiatives underway to reduce emissions, some human activities will need carbon capture for the future.

Page said, “We have hard-to-decarbonize sectors and these generally need carbon capture and storage to address their emissions: steel, chemicals, cement, fertilizers and plastics as a range of examples, but again, it’s not the whole list.”

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