A surge in markets that put a price on planet-warming emissions could make technology to capture and sequester carbon dioxide commercially viable after decades of false starts.
Some experts say carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is essential to meeting the goal of a net carbon zero economy by 2050 because behavioural change alone will be insufficient.
But environmental campaigners tend to be wary of CCS on the grounds industry can use it to justify the continued use of fossil fuels.
CCS transports CO2 from where it is emitted and stores it, usually in a geological site, to prevent its release into the atmosphere.
Although the technology has existed for decades, it has yet to be widely deployed because it has been uneconomic – until now.
This year, the cost of producing carbon, which was far too cheap to deter many big emitters, has leapt to record highs.
On the most established carbon market, the European Union’s Emissions Trading System, pollution permits in July reached their highest yet at nearly 60 euros ($70.33) a tonne.
Many analysts say a European carbon price of around 100 euros is within reach by the end of this decade, tipping the balance in favour of CCS.
Another big economy, Canada, also faces a rise in carbon prices after the country’s supreme court in March gave the go-ahead for an increase to C$170 ($135.67) a tonne by 2030, from C$30 now.
OPPORTUNITY FOR SOME
Most roadmaps on how to meet goals set under the Paris Climate agreement to limit a rise in global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7° Fahrenheit) require a vast scaling up of CCS.
For companies and countries that get it right, the opportunity is huge. The world would need to go from current capacity of capturing 40 million tonnes of CO2 a year to 7.6 billion tonnes a year in 2050 to realise the International Energy Agency’s net zero scenario.
(Graphic: Steep road to net zero 2050 for CCS: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/byvrjoglrve/Steep%20road%20to%20net%20zero%202050%20for%20CCS.png)
(Graphic: Global CCS capacity over the years: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/gdvzyrxyzpw/CCS%20capacity.png)
Apart from the increased interest because of rising carbon prices, greater deployment of CCS would lower costs and help to make it profitable because of economies of scale.
“Part of the reason so many people are now talking about CCS is the movement in the carbon price and higher tax costs,” said Syrie Crouch VP of CCS at Shell, which has a target to capture and store 25 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2035.
Shell is involved in CCS projects in Europe, Canada and Australia.
IEA data finds the cost of capturing CO2, excluding transport and storage, ranges from $15 per tonne at a natural gas processing plant to over $300 a tonne at a direct air capture (DAC) plant, which sucks emissions out of the atmosphere and is the only negative-emission solution.
(Graphic: Levelised cost of CO2 capture by sector and initial CO2 concentration: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/ce/jnpwegdlbpw/Pasted%20image%201628500852226.png)
The cost variation depends on factors such as the concentration of CO2 in the gas being captured.
Transport and storage costs also vary depending on what infrastructure exists, how far the CO2 must be transported and the structure used for storage.
Total CCS costs are already starting to be manageable for some emitters, Nick Cooper, CEO of project developer Storegga, said.
Storegga is leading development of the Acorn CCS project in Scotland, which aims to use existing oil and gas infrastructure to store 5-10 million tonnes of CO2 a year by 2030. Its partners are Shell and oil and gas company Harbour Energy.
The majority of existing and developing CCS projects are at power plants or natural gas processing sites, but experts say more projects are needed to put CCS filters on smokestacks for industries such as steel and cement.
(Graphic: Carbon Capture and Storage: https://graphics.reuters.com/CLIMATE-CHANGE/CSS/mopanmrmrva/chart.png)
Large industrials including HeidelbergCement , LafargeHolcim, ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel are among those considering CCS to meet their climate targets.
“If you are an industry with high emissions, and you aren’t actively planning for how these emissions are going to be avoided or stored in the future, you are running the risk of stranding your assets, and that risk goes up the more that carbon prices go up,” Mark Freshney, energy analyst at Credit Suisse, said.
Chemicals giant Ineos hopes to eventually store around 1 million tonnes of CO2 from its Scottish Grangemouth plant at the Acorn site and in July signed an MoU with Storegga.
“Had it not been for that movement (in carbon prices) we wouldn’t be having this conversation on CCS. It has definitely led to a sea change,” Colin Pritchard, Energy Business Manager at Grangemouth, said.
Ineos is also developing the Greensands CCS project off the coast of Denmark that it hopes could eventually store up to 8 million tonnes of CO2 a year in depleted oil and gas fields.
The sudden eagerness, especially from oil companies that can use carbon dioxide to increase pressure in old fields to extract more fossil fuel – currently the most common use of CCS – leaves climate campaigners suspicious, even though they grasp the urgency of finding all possible solutions to controlling climate change.
“Putting carbon capture technology on greenhouse-gas emitting facilities enables those facilities to continue operating, effectively providing those emitters with a licence to pollute indefinitely,” a group of over 500 international, U.S., and Canadian organisations said in an open letter to their policymakers in July.
At the same time, some existing projects have struggled with technical problems.
Australia’s A$3.1 billion ($2.3 billion) Gorgon CCS project, a joint venture including Chevron , Shell and ExxonMobil, was designed to store 4 million tonnes a year of CO2 at a liquefied natural gas project.
Since starting injecting CO2 in August 2019, three years later than scheduled, it has injected a total of 5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent.
“Like anything of this scale there are technical challenges to overcome,” Shell’s Crouch said. Lessons from the project would be shared with the industry and governments and help to progress future projects, she said.
In the longer term, supporters of the technology say it will play an essential role in removing CO2 from the atmosphere, rather than just capturing at source, through methods such as direct air capture or bioenergy, derived from renewable biomass, with carbon capture and storage (BECCs).
British power generator Drax is seeking to develop BECCs at its biomass units, which it said could make it the world’s first negative emissions power plant by 2027.
Drax CEO Will Gardiner told Reuters it would take the company an initial 2 billion pound ($2.8 billion) investment to build the plants capable of removing 8-9 million tonnes of CO2 a year, with the CCS costing around 100 per tonne.
“As carbon prices rise globally, and if we are going to achieve a 1.5 degree pathway, they will have to rise, this will be a very cost effective way of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere,” he said.
(Reporting By Susanna Twidale and Shadia Nasralla, additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Veronica Brown and Barbara Lewis)
Dutch man who harassed B.C. teenager Amanda Todd returned to the Netherlands
The man convicted of harassing and extorting British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd has been returned to the Netherlands, where the prosecution office says a judge will decide if he serves any of his 13-year Canadian sentences.
Canada’s Justice Department says Aydin Coban was taken back to his home country on Nov. 24, where he will continue serving a nearly 11-year sentence imposed by a Dutch court in 2017 for similar crimes involving more than 30 youths.
Coban was extradited to Canada in 2020 to face charges including extortion, harassment and distribution of child pornography related to Todd, who was 15 when she died by suicide at her home in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in October 2012.
Evert Boerstra, press officer with the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service, says a so-called “conversion hearing” will take place now that Coban has been returned, and the court will decide how his Canadian sentence will be converted to Dutch standards.
Boerstra says it will be up to a judge to decide whether Coban will serve the 13-year sentence given to him by a B.C. Supreme Court judge last month, after he finishes his Dutch sentence, which was the maximum that could be imposed.
The press officer says because of the similarity between both cases “there is a chance that after conversion there will be no room left to impose punishment in addition to the Dutch sentence as a result of the Canadian verdict.”
In an email, Boerstra says a date for that hearing has yet to be announced.
Carol Todd, Amanda’s mother, has said she knew at the start of Coban’s nine-week trial in B.C. last June that any sentence would be converted once he returned to the Netherlands.
But it wasn’t until a Dutch reporter contacted her after Coban was convicted in August that Todd said she learned it’s possible he may not serve his Canadian sentence because he was already serving the maximum Dutch term for similar crimes committed around the same time he was harassing her daughter.
Todd has said the Dutch reporter spoke with lawyers who indicatedDutch law also stipulates when someone is convicted and sentenced, then found guilty of the same kind of offence in the same time period, the existing punishment applies.
Todd reached out to Crown prosecutors in B.C. after the publication of the Dutch journalist’s story and they verified that was the law, she said in a recent interview.
During Coban’s trial in New Westminster, B.C., the jury heard he used 22 online aliases to harass Amanda over two years, starting when she was 12 years old.
The trial heard Coban sent photos to Amanda’s family, friends and school administrators of her exposing her breasts because she didn’t comply with his demands to perform sexual “shows” in front of a web camera.
The teenager died by suicide a few weeks after posting a video in which she used flash cards to describe being tormented by an online predator.
Todd said her daughter would have turned 26 over the weekend.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.
Brenna Owen, The Canadian Press
Ottawa to spend $1.2 million to replace and repair homes after mass stabbing
Houses became crime scenes after 11 people died and 18 were injured on the James Smith Cree Nation and nearby village of Weldon during the Sept. 4 attacks.
Myles Sanderson, the 32-year-old suspect in the attacks, later died in police custody.
Indigenous Services Canada said $750,000 will be used for replacement, repairs and restoration of homes damaged during the massacre. The repairs are expected to be completed by mid-December, the department said in an email.
Chief Wally Burns has said four of the affected homes cannot be repaired. Some of the funding will be used for replacement ready-to-move homes, he said, but it will be some time before they are habitable.
“The housing is there,” Burns said Monday during a news conference on the First Nation. “The transition from here to there, it takes a long time.”
Indigenous Services Canada said 16 homes have been cleaned at an expected cost of $203,000. That covers cleaning 14 homes on the reserve, one in Weldon and one in Wakaw.
An additional $200,000 was provided to replace furniture and $40,000 was set aside for a housing co-ordinator.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said the government will support families who are still waiting to return home.
“Building a house can’t happen overnight, unfortunately,” she said Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the First Nation of about 1,900 people 170 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on Monday and announced $40 million over the next six years to build a wellness centre and repurpose a lodge. He also announced funding for community-based safety projects and treatments for substance abuse.
Since the tragedy, Indigenous leaders have talked about how housing is connected to health.
Burns said Monday that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened overcrowding in housing on the First Nation. Combined with the stabbing rampage, it’s left a lot of people feeling anxiety, he said.
“That’s not healthy,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2022.
— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon
Feds launching task force to reform public-service whistleblowing law
Treasury Board President Mona Fortier is asking a nine-member task force to consider reforms to the federal disclosure process that would strengthen supports for bureaucrats who come forward to report wrongdoing.
Fortier said in a news conference Tuesday that the law that’s on the books is 15 years old and “it’s time to carefully consider how to improve it.”
The review of the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act will begin in January and is slated to take between 12 and 18 months to complete.
Conservative critic Stephanie Kusie said the move is “nothing but a delay tactic.”
She pointed out in a written statement that a House of Commons committee made a wealth of recommendations in a 2017 report, and that some amendments are already on the table in a Bloc Québécois private member’s bill.
“This government demonstrates time and time again that they do not prioritize protecting public servants,” said Kusie. “It is also disappointing that the Liberal government continues to delay reforms by appointing an external task force to ‘consider the parliamentary debate’ rather than participate in the parliamentary process.”
The decision to conduct a review comes after a report commissioned by the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner found “palpable and widespread” pessimism among public servants who were asked about whistleblowing.
The report by Phoenix Strategic Perspectives Inc., delivered earlier this year, said federal workers are increasingly cynical, skeptical and disillusioned about the idea, and they are more likely to fear reprisals than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fortier said if public servants are to play their “integral role in the functioning of our democracy,” then they must be able to work in an environment that is safe, respectful and “grounded in ethics and values.”
She said workers must feel safe to disclose wrongdoing.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2022.
Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press
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