From: MIT Technology Review
Averting Disastrous Climate Change Could Depend on Unproven Technologies
A U.N. climate report says we’ll overshoot greenhouse gas targets, and will need new technologies to make up for it.
By Kevin Bullis
A U.N. climate report released on Sunday concludes that there may still be time to limit global warming to an increase of two degrees Celsius or less, which could help the world avoid the worst effects of climate change. But doing so will depend on making extraordinary changes to energy infrastructure at a much faster pace than is happening now, and may require the use of controversial and unproven technologies for pulling greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.
The second is an approach called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS. This involves growing trees and other biomass, burning it to generate electricity, and then capturing the carbon dioxide this releases and storing it underground. In theory, this could reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. But the scale of this approach could be limited in practice; it may be hard to generate large amounts of electricity using trees without causing major deforestation. And carbon capture and sequestration technology has not been proven at a large scale (see “What Carbon Capture Can’t Do” and “Capturing and Storing Carbon Dioxide in One Easy Step”). The report acknowledges that this approach is risky. “My own view is that BECCS is a fantasy,” says Victor. “It’s something the modeling community came up with because it allows the models to solve seemingly unsolvable problems.”