From Bureau of Economic Geology, The
University of Texas at Austin (www.beg.utexas.edu).
For more information, please contact the author.
Bureau Seminar, February 3, 2012
Energy and the Environment: the Intersection of Science, Technology and
Policy in Carbon Capture and Storage
Manager CCS and Regulatory Affairs
International Energy Agency Greenhouse Gas Programme, Cheltenham, England
The energy sector is recognized as very important for climate change mitigation, but this doesn’t mean that appropriate mitigation technologies are universally welcomed in relevant policy mechanisms. For example, the 2011 United Nations Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC) meeting in Durban provided an historic moment for carbon capture and storage (CCS), a major energy-related climate mitigation option. After five years without progress, the Cancun Decision (2010) put in place a work programme to address technical issues of concern before CCS could be included under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and so allow projects in developing countries to earn marketable carbon credits. The work programme consisted of submissions, a technical workshop in Abu Dhabi, and the production of draft rules by the UNFCCC for negotiation in Durban. Technical input by scientists was a focus of the workshop and aided policy makers in understanding the relevant scientific issues in areas such as groundwater protection, monitoring CCS sites, modelling and risk assessment. The end result was a deeper understanding of issues by non-technical policy makers leading to adoption of CCS modalities and procedures. These set a standard for managing CCS projects in developing countries which will ensure a high level of environmental protection and is workable for projects. It is also official recognition by the UNFCCC that CCS is a technology capable of deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and it sets an important precedent for the inclusion of CCS into other support mechanisms. This talk will describe this policy process and how science informing negotiations greatly assisted in achieving inclusion of CCS in the CDM.