CCS4CEE KEY NARRATIVES
CCS HELPS MITIGATE CLIMATE CHANGE BY KEEPING CO2 EMISSIONS AWAY FROM THE ATMOSPHERE
By capturing CO2 from industrial activities (or directly from the air) and storing it safely underground, CCS prevents this greenhouse gas from being emitted into or from staying in the atmosphere and causing further global warming and climate change with catastrophic consequences.
CCS IS A KEY TOOL TO ACHIEVE CLIMATE NEUTRALITY
Climate neutrality cannot be achieved without reducing emissions across all economic activities and balancing, through carbon dioxide removals, those residual emissions which are very difficult to abate (e.g., from agriculture). The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) systematically incorporates CCS technologies in its calculations of mitigation pathways (with very few exceptions) consistent with targets laid down in the Paris Agreement. The main contribution of CCS technologies to achieving climate neutrality lay in their potential to reduce emissions in heavy industries considered to be hard-to-abate (i.e., where emissions reduction is technologically very difficult), so that no sector is left behind in a net-zero world.
Whilst emission reduction should always be prioritised, CCS technologies also play a key role in bringing about long-term negative emissions (carbon dioxide removals). Our slow action on climate change to date means we will likely now also be dependent on removing CO2 from the atmosphere to prevent runaway climate change. One way to do this is to capture and permanently store biogenic CO2 emissions from energy production based on sustainable biomass, including biogenic waste. Additionally, atmospheric CO2 can also be captured through Direct Air Capture units and permanently stored. Capturing and storing biogenic or atmospheric CO2 effectively removes it from the atmosphere, leading to negative emissions.
However, negative emissions (Direct Air Capture in particular) will be difficult and expensive to deploy and they are not a substitute for rapid action in cutting emissions. Removing CO2 from the atmosphere is certainly not an easy fix, and if anything, our reliance on it should be a sign of how far the climate crisis has advanced.
CCS IS A TOOL FOR DECARBONISING HEAVY INDUSTRY
Heavy industries, such as steel, cement and chemical production are the backbone of the European economy. They provide essential products and infrastructure, including for our transition to climate neutrality (e.g., materials for wind turbines, electric vehicles, grids, etc.). They have nevertheless been long overlooked in the decarbonisation debate, despite their significant share of carbon emissions (around 21% in the EU). However, with the likely increase of industry’s output driven by ever-increasing demand and exhaustion of possible efficiency gains, CCS is most suited to tackle the emissions that are integral to many industrial processes, and can be installed on existing production assets. With a shift towards the services sector in Western Europe, industrial production has been progressively outsourced, including to CEE countries. As a result, efforts for industrial decarbonisation in the region must increase if CEE countries are to meet the EU’s long-term climate goals.
CCS IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE JUST TRANSITION IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
The incorporation of CCS technologies into industrial processes has the potential to support the EU’s objective to achieve climate neutrality in a socially just way. Just transition is about ensuring that those working in heavy industries don’t become victims of policies and actions accelerating the shift towards a climate neutral economy. CCS can prevent potential lay-offs resulting from the shutdown and/or displacement of industrial production plants to the benefit of regions with less strict emission standards, while at the same time creating additional green jobs with a long-term vision.
CCS IS A WAY TO INCREASE REGIONAL CONNECTIVITY AND COOPERATION
EU-wide CCS deployment offers a means to increase regional connectivity not only among CEE countries but between North-Western Europe and the CEE region. Cross-border projects accelerating CCS deployment, such as the development of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure, increase the spread of technological know-how, foster international cooperation and increase the economic development of the CEE region by furthering European economic integration.
CCS CREATES OPPORTUNITIES FOR RESEARCHERS AND ENTREPRENEURS
Unprecedented financial resources are now funnelled through EU and national funds for research, innovation and deployment of low-carbon technologies such as CCS. This creates an opportunity for CEE researchers and entrepreneurs to tap into this funding and contribute to the commercialisation of CCS, e.g., by reducing the costs, improving its efficiency or applicability outside traditional industrial sectors.
CCS deployment also creates new value chains, and thus opportunities for businesses from a broad range of sectors, e.g., engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) companies, technology providers, transport businesses, to name just a few.
CCS IS AN ENABLER OF A COHERENT AND HOLISTIC REGULARTORY FRAMEWORK (BREAKING SILOS)
As a complex suite of technologies, CCS requires coordination across government both for developing robust strategies and policies as enablers, and removing administrative barriers to implementation of projects. In CEE countries, where decarbonisation strategies are often fragmented and inefficient, deploying a coherent regulatory framework for CCS could serve as a blueprint for better coordination and more efficient management at national and local authority level. Given the requirements for transparency in project development, CCS done well at regulatory level could also serve as a model for consistent, transparent and meaningful public engagement on clean technologies and climate mitigation.