Center on Global Energy Policy, Global CCS Institute Release Key Net Zero Report as part of NYC Climate Week

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NEW YORK – New research from the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA and the Global CCS Institute released during Climate Week NYC 2020 finds that -- beyond reducing the amount of carbon dioxide released to generate power and produce industrial products like cement, steel, chemicals and hydrogen -- greater investment in technology that removes existing carbon dioxide from the air and oceans is critical to reducing global warming. The study, Net-Zero and Geospheric Return: Actions Today for 2030 and Beyond, recommends climate finance policies and technologies that need to grow rapidly within the next 10 years to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and decarbonize the global economy.

Dr. Julio Friedmann, lead author of the report and Senior Research Scholar at the Center on Global Energy Policy, said: "Climate math is merciless -- if we're going to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we have to rapidly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions created by human activity and industry. This report explains in practical terms what we can do now to rapidly reduce today's carbon pollution, remove past emissions from the air and oceans, and states again a key fact: returning carbon dioxide emissions to earth's crust is a pathway that saves time, saves money, and speeds up our progress towards that goal."

The report 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 8,000 kilometers (5,000 mi) of existing carbon dioxide pipelines in North America must be expanded by an additional 35,000 kilometers (21,000 mi) to maximize 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 a 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 that 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 decarbonization 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 decarbonization of heavy industry requires a technology that’s proven, effective and versatile. CCS is tailored for the job,” Page added.

The report is available in its entirety online at: https://www.energypolicy.columbia.edu/research/report/net-zero-and-geosp...

Today, the Center on Global Energy Policy and the Global CCS Institute will host the global launch of Net-Zero and Geospheric Return: Actions Today for 2030 and Beyond at Climate Week NYC 2020. The virtual event will feature a discussion facilitated by Global CCS Institute CEO Brad Page with economist and climate advocate Lord Nicholas Stern and Jason Bordoff, former senior director on the staff of the U.S. National Security Council and special assistant to President Barack Obama, and Founding Director of the Center on Global Energy Policy. United States Senator Lisa Murkowski will follow with brief remarks.

Bordoff said: "We are all currently witnessing the disastrous effects of climate change -- from wildfires raging in Australia and across the West of the United States to more devastating hurricanes each year. We need rapid and profound decarbonization to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, and the investments and policies made over the next decade will lay the foundation for achieving our climate goals. As carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise each year, we need all available technologies to manage and reduce emissions by 50% by 2030, and to ultimately reach net-zero by 2050."

Lord Stern said: This report is a timely reminder that we need to alter the alarming path we’re on and move swiftly to tackle climate change. The findings show that we have, at the ready, strong techniques developed, both in the form of policy and technology, which can be implemented quickly if we commit and make a major and vital contribution to achieving net zero. It is time to go to scale. By applying what we know, and learning along the way, we can build the path to the zero-carbon economy that is crucial for the prosperity of this and future generations. 

Register for the event at: https://www.energypolicy.columbia.edu/climate-week-nyc-2020.

About the Center on Global Energy Policy

The Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA advances smart, actionable and evidence-based energy and climate solutions through research, education and dialogue. Based at one of the world’s top research universities, what sets CGEP apart is our ability to communicate academic research, scholarship and insights in formats and on timescales that are useful to decision makers. We bridge the gap between academic research and policy -- complementing and strengthening the world-class research already underway at Columbia University, while providing support, expertise, and policy recommendations to foster stronger, evidence-based policy. Recently, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger announced the creation of a new Climate School -- the first in the nation -- to tackle the most urgent environmental and public health challenges facing humanity. Follow us on Twitter @ColumbiaUEnergy

About the Global CCS Institute

The Global CCS Institute is an international think tank whose mission is to accelerate the deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS), a vital technology to tackle climate change and provide energy security. For more information, visit www.globalccsinstitute.com