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Climate change: and the ‘magical thinking’ of carbon capture

  • by JW

The biggest CCS project in the world. It is a project in Western Australia. And apparently it’s a massive fail…


CCS looks very enticing:

A scheme backed by Dominic Cummings to ‘suck’ excess carbon dioxide from the air and bury it underground gets £100m from the Treasury

Climate change: and carbon capture – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Especially as it promises another techno-change:

“It helps perpetuate a belief in technological salvation and diminishes the sense of urgency surrounding the need to curb emissions now.”

“The idea of net zero carbon is a dangerous trap” – Vision Group for Sidmouth

Big Oil is keen on “carbon capture and storage” – as with this story out today:

ExxonMobil boosts participation in potentially huge UK carbon capture project | Upstream Online

The Australian government is also keen – as with another story out today:

Can Australia’s path to net-zero really be fuelled by carbon capture and LNG? | Environment | The Guardian

However, as this piece of satire from last month suggests, maybe CCS isn’t quite as honest as its perpetrators would have us believe:

Honest Government Ad | Carbon Capture & Storage – YouTube

So, whilst some quarters are trumpeting this technology, others are pointing out its failings- which brings us back to Big Oil and Australia:

Another Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) Project Doesn’t Live Up To Its Targets

Everybody concerned about the climate crisis we are entering would love for some form of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to work wonders. It would be so much easier to avert crisis if we could just capture carbon and re-bury or store it in some energy-efficient, cost-efficient way. But to this point, hopes of CCS being a sort of magical bullet have been little more than “magical thinking.” It simply doesn’t work as we imagine it should in our minds.

Aside from armchair reading and commentary, this is a matter that’s also battled out in discussions between scientists focused on climate solutions research. Nonetheless, the same problem arises. Some researchers are eager to just put in theoretical, ideal figures for CCS costs, energy efficiency, and capability. Others have been saying, no, look at reality and base your calculations on real-world experience. Let’s drop the magical thinking, especially in the science community.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, yes, oil companies have known about the climate threat for several decades. They have put a lot of resources into lobbying, messaging campaigns, and greenwashing in order to try to keep their businesses going as usual. If they could simply implement a magic CCS bullet and avoid all kinds of political challenges and loss of market share, they would. CCS would be going strong all around the world right now if oil, gas, and coal companies could implement it cost-effectively — or effectively at all.

That brings us to some news that a reader recently shared in the comments section under an article. Chevron has been the company behind what is reportedly the biggest CCS project in the world. It is a project in Western Australia. And apparently it’s a massive fail...

Another Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) Project Doesn’t Live Up To Its Targets | CleanTechnica

The Futures Forum blog has looked at this:

Futures Forum: Carbon capture > technological fix or false hope?

Futures Forum: Climate change: Bio-energy + carbon capture and storage

Futures Forum: Climate change: will Carbon Capture and Storage be the techno-fix to ‘unlock’ unburnable fossil fuels?

Futures Forum: The techno-fix… Can we engineer our way out of environmental catastrophe? Or… Can we ‘design for the real world’?

Futures Forum: Climate change: Are proposals to repair the climate offering “scalable technological fixes” or “climate despair”?

Finally, for a little more climate change satire:

Honest Government Ad | Electric Vehicles – YouTube

Honest Government Ad | Kyoto Carryover Credits – YouTube

Honest Government Ad | Gas-led Recovery – YouTube

Honest Government Ad | The Fires – YouTube