Climate boondoggles: Carbon Capture doesn't stand up to the hype

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It doesn't even come close:

While many people think this is a new technology, it’s not. In fact, the US Department of Energy spent at least $6 billion over two decades on it. Not to mention the tax credits oil and gas companies have received for pilot projects.

Even the biggest projects stretch to absorb a few thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, we emit over 50 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases each year. That’s a million-fold gap. So, even if artificial carbon removal scaled 1,000x — which is still years and billions of dollars away at best — it would need to grow by another 1,000-fold even to be a small percentage of the solutions we need.

Understand, we could never even come close to the level of carbon capture that naturally exists on our planet. Trees and ocean life, such as seaweed and plankton, absorb a substantial amount of atmospheric carbon, while also producing oxygen. But this isn't just a boondoggle, it's actually a boon for fossil fuel companies:

Carbon removal makes it appear that fossil fuel companies are working to address climate change — without actually reducing our addiction to oil, gas, and coal. It helps delay the inevitable phasing out of fossil fuels. Adding insult to injury, captured carbon dioxide is used to extract even more oil and gas out of the ground.

We’ve seen this before. It’s yet another form of “predatory delay”— an attempt to keep stalling climate action a few more years while raking in giant profits. And fossil fuel polluters have mastered the art of predatory delay.

Plus, fossil fuel companies are doing this at our expense. They are benefitting from government-subsidized R&D, and they receive massive tax breaks for projects they deploy. Already, the US has paid out well over $1 billion in tax credits to companies that have deployed CCUS. Exxon-Mobil alone may have received hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits.

Over the last 8-10 years, I have encountered several relatively intelligent people cheerleading carbon capture technology, and a few of them were actually scientists (who should know better). It shouldn't even be considered as "part of the solution," as many have postulated. If there wasn't a ticking time bomb associated with this, it would still be a waste of time and resources. But there is, and screwing around with something like this is going to cost us dearly.

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Comments

I specifically point this out...

to my environmental science classes when we get to climate change in the curriculum. My admonition to them is "if you want to help push carbon capture forward, go plant trees." Artificial carbon capture is one of those boondoggle kind of projects (like fusion power) that captivate the technical-minded but never actually pan out. The fact that oil companies are pushing this just tells us all that it's more propaganda than fact.

Thank you.

And once again checking sources is a critical exercise. Very often these pro-carbon capture stories are rewrites of dubiously funded "research," since the fossil fuel industry has oozed its way into academia since the 1980's (or before).

Unfortunately, the field of Geology is almost completely wrapped up with them, but you'll also see Engineering departments praising this stuff, too.