Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The Guardian reports that the leaders of the European Union have asked the UN for advice about “negative emissions”. The “negative emissions” proposal is like regular Carbon Capture and Storage, except more unworkable.
EU says 1.5C global warming target depends on ‘negative emissions’ technology
EU climate chief says that aspirational 1.5C target was put into Paris climate deal at insistence of ‘most exposed countries’ and will require new strategies.
The EU has admitted it has not yet looked into the polices needed to hold global warming to 1.5C, as agreed at the landmark Paris agreement, and will instead ask a UN climate science panel for advice involving “negative emissions” technology.
The bloc’s negotiators had gone to Paris with a mandate for a 2C target but were forced to accommodate more ambitious demands from “the most exposed countries”, the bloc’s climate chief, Miguel Arias Cañete, said.
Several small island states could be swallowed by rising seas if the planet warms by 2C, scientists believe.
“For sure, 1.5C is a trajectory of full decarbonisation and will require accelerated strategies and pathways,” Cañete told a Brussels press conference. “About negative emissions, the IPCC [UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] will say when and how.”
Negative emissions can refer to geoengineering but usually means the mass deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies which bury CO2 in underground fissures. These would be fixed to power plants powered by “carbon neutral” bioenergy, which removes carbon from the air as it grows. More carbon would be saved than re-released into the atmosphere, the theory goes, so creating net zero emissions.
But the idea has proved controversial, with Kevin Anderson, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change branding negative emissions “highly speculative” over the weekend.
It is noteworthy that even the über green Tyndall Centre thinks this is a daft idea.
Wouldn’t it be nice if politicians, who in the West usually have a legal rather than a scientific background, ran their ideas past a few engineers before announcing their latest inspiration?