Carbon removal technology key to COP22 Marrakesh 2016


Carbon removal technology key to COP22 Marrakesh 2016

By Jonathan Riggall, Equity Director – Energy and Environment

Beyond climate change agreements and plans, carbon removal technology will have a considerable role to play in meeting the global commitment to only a two-degree change in temperature by 2100.

With the run up to COP22 in Marrakesh being held in November, we’re anticipating the annual climate change fervour this year to centre around the commitments made by countries to create Nationally Defined Contributions (NDC) towards CO2 reduction.

As signatory countries to the Paris Climate Change Agreement start unbundling what NDCs are, creating long lists and action plans, it’s a good time to learn from the outcomes of countries with more advanced carbon transition plans.

In the UK, we’ve learnt a great deal from 15 years of Government policy on decarbonisation, and I’d like to think if we were to start again there would be more effective decision-making from the start. For example, our National and Regional Electrical Grids would look and operate entirely differently if the starting point was distributed renewable energy, energy from waste and battery storage rather than a grid provided for the historical nationally centralised nuclear and coal power.

In developing NDCs, it will be critical for individual countries to understand their needs from an energy perspective in the first instance and the most effective way of distributing energy against that demand. By placing needs first, this will dictate the form of distributed energy that is most suitable. Starting with the energy generation technology first, and then retrofitting the distribution and demand around it, could end up costing a country significantly more in the long run.

Focusing on energy generation and transport should not alone fill the NDC lists. Many nations have the capacity to deliver carbon removal and storage projects due to their geographical position in the world especially biologically through habitat restoration programmes.

The Guardian recently highlighted these opportunities. This is an area that PBA has invested time and effort in understanding and driving forward. Over the last five years, we’ve been delighted to work alongside and support Tim Kruger and his team at the University of Oxford’s ‘Oxford Geoengineering Programme’ which is supporting the advancement of carbon removal technology.

The deployment of technologies such as Origen Power, which Tim Kruger has evolved over the last 10 years are scalable and deliverable at a local and regional level within the boundaries set by National Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations.

A country that is therefore using NDC to regenerate their national electrical system, deploy cheap clean energy and delivers carbon removal to balance their national emissions inventories will be in a stronger position in the global economic markets, especially attracting carbon intensive industries that need such infrastructure to be competitive in our new low carbon society.

Ultimately the NDC approach is a great opportunity to attract investment into a country - an opportunity too good to miss.