Canada’s facepalm moment at COP20: Carbon capture just doesn’t work


By Kelsey Mech Brenna Owen Alex Cool-Fergus Katie Perfitt Bronwen Tucker Megan Van Buskirk Aleah Loney

Today, the COP 20 UN Climate Negotiations in Lima begin. As part of the lead-up to a global climate agreement next year in Paris, governments around the world will be discussing their commitments for emissions reduction targets. These commitments are slated to come in the form of intended nationally-determined contributions (INDCs) and are due in March 2015 — three short months from now. Canada’s most recent ADP submission, a key document that will help shape our INDCs,  avoids any mention of the tar sands and our increasing inability to meet emissions targets, and outlines only a handful of inadequate “solutions.” Here are the highlights, or should we say lowlights, from the dismal proposal.
Spoiler alert: brace yourselves for some serious face palms.


Carbon capture and storage

In its proposal, Canada also claims to be an authority on carbon capture and storage (CCS) — the complicated process of capturing, compressing, and storing CO2. In case you were starting to believe the government is actually trying to be environmentally friendly, don’t be duped: CCS is basically an advanced form of greenwashing that uses the sequestered CO2 to pump barrels of oil from the ground. That’s right, folks — with CCS fossil fuels can be exploited at a higher rate! This unproven technology also faces major barriers when it comes to actual implementation, which is possibly why it has never been successfully executed before. To make matters worse, it is considered to be the most expensive form of greenhouse gas mitigation — retrofitting just a single coal plant in Saskatchewan with CCS costs $1.4 billion. Even Brad Page, Chief Executive of the Global CCS Institute — ostensibly one of CCS’s biggest fans — has expressed doubt that it is ready to be replicated on a larger scale. Yet Canada has already spent up to $4.5 billion on carbon capture and storage research and development. Instead of investing billions of dollars in controversial CCS technology, we suggest investing in proven energy solutions like wind, solar and tidal, which are currently massively underutilized and underfunded in the country.

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