Deep Decarbonization

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[mk_dropcaps style=”simple-style”]T[/mk_dropcaps]HE WORLD WILL STILL need petrochemicals. However ironic it may be, materials for the future electric car and solar panels, as well as the world’s ever-growing electronics industry, rely on one of the biggest carbon emitting sectors. The IDDRI predicts oil and gas mining can even double, “but we’ll capture the emissions at the back end,” explains Bataille. Under this scenario, Alberta’s geological assets aren’t just for mining but storing. The very rock formations that have permitted its $90-billion energy industry also make it some of the world’s best carbon-capture land, says Bataille. “You drill down about one kilometre, and there are these deep aquifers where basically you can put as much CO2 as you can emit.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][mk_image src=”” image_width=”600″ image_height=”500″ crop=”true” lightbox=”false” frame_style=”simple” target=”_self” caption_location=”outside-image” align=”left” margin_bottom=”10″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Once science fiction, carbon capture and geoengineering in the form of CO2 removal — chemically cleaning the planet’s climate — is close to a reality. Carbon removal is even more attractive considering that there isn’t scientific consensus that limiting the atmospheric concentration of CO2 to 450 parts per million will stabilize rising surface temperatures to 2 C. Predictions by climate scientists in the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050: Key Findings on Climate Change, for example, only give the scenario a 50-50 chance. Gobbling up what we’ve emitted since the industrial revolution and reducing the concentration to 350 parts per million — on top of shrinking emissions — is the safest route, says carbon -capture science pioneer Klaus Lackner.

Lackner was the first to propose “direct air capture” — literally pulling carbon out of thin air — in 1995. He’s now the director of the Center for Negative Carbon Emissions at Arizona State University, where he tests air capture methods, including an anionic exchange resin that absorbs, then releases, CO2, thereby making the gas infinitely recyclable. A few other companies, including Calgary-based Carbon Engineering, have proven it’s technically possible to capture molecules from ambient air, as opposed to traditional technologies that pull it out of CO2-dense smokestacks. The traditional technologies, however, can only mitigate new emissions, and that’s not good enough to deal with the “old debt,” says Lackner, who predicts industrial air capture technology the size of large power plants that could do the work of a thousand trees. One hurdle for carbon capture to overcome will be the feasibility and security of storage methods of the CO2 collected.

Carbon capture has its detractors, some of whom believe it also carries moral hazard by allowing the fossil fuels industry to maintain the status quo. “I’m not suggesting air capture to allow you to sit back and relax,” says Lackner. “I’m suggesting air capture because we already have to mop up things that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.” With sea levels rising, wildfires increasing, droughts extending and human, wild and marine life all under threat, he says, “We need to deploy all options we have.” Once carbon capture is proven to work affordably and on a large scale, however — and this is where Lackner makes people nervous — Lackner thinks it’s possible “you could run cars on liquid fuels and collect the CO2 back and then make some liquid fuels again.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][mk_button dimension=”three” size=”large” outline_skin=”dark” outline_active_color=”#fff” outline_hover_color=”#333333″ bg_color=”#13bdd2″ text_color=”light” icon=”moon-next” url=”/deep-decarbonization/4/” target=”_self” align=”right” fullwidth=”false” margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”15″ animation=”scale-up”]
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