The EARTH Would Definitely Change if Fossil Fuel Producers Took Back Their Emissions!

by Duane Nichols on December 21, 2021

This interview is quite interesting — but, the idea is not very practical!

Fossil Fuel Producers Should Take Back Their Emissions?

From a Summary Article by S. Jenkins, Chemical Engineering Progress, December 2021

The Paris Agreement has set a goal of limiting global temperature increase to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels, and efforts are underway to limit this increase to 1.5°C. As of 2020, however, global temperatures have already surpassed 1.1°C, increasing at a rate of 0.2°C per decade. At this rate, it appears new approaches are needed to meet climate goals.

Thus far, climate efforts have focused on emissions reduction measures, such as replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency, as well as temporary forms of carbon storage, such as storing carbon in vegetation and soil. These emissions reduction measures are not comprehensive — developing countries, for example, cannot be simply banned from using fossil fuels — and the current energy system remains reliant on petroleum products.

Researchers from the Univ. of Oxford and the Univ. of Edinburgh show that energy and industrial emissions could be cost-effectively captured and stored through the implementation of a progressive carbon takeback obligation (CTBO) on fossil carbon producers and importers. Critically, this supply-side policy would not only require fossil fuel extractors, producers, and importers to store the CO2 generated by their activities, it would also leave them responsible for the emissions generated by use of their products. The CTBO would progressively increase the fraction of emissions required to be captured and stored over time. For example, it could require 10% of emissions to be stored by 2030, 50% by 2040, and 100% by 2050. Gradual implementation would allow for the necessary scaling of the storage industry.

Central to the CTBO is the need for more geological-timescale carbon storage — any process that stores CO2 with a negligible risk of reversal to the atmosphere over millennia. According to the researchers, halting global warming requires active CO2 capture paired with geological-timescale carbon storage to reduce hard-to-abate emissions and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The idea behind the CTBO was first put forth in 2009, but concerns were raised about the potential cost and implications for producer competitiveness. The Oxford and Edinburgh team, however, show that the CTBO can be implemented as a cost-effective and complementary strategy to demand-side emissions abatement measures. “The cost of implementing the CTBO is no higher than achieving similar climate goals with a conventional carbon-price-based policy,” says Myles Allen, a professor of geosystem science at the Univ. of Oxford

For the analysis, the researchers used a novel integrated assessment model to compare the CTBO policy to conventional demand-side mitigation policies, such as a global carbon price. Integrated assessment models bring together information from diverse fields to provide insight into complex problems, such as the impact of human development and societal choices on the environment. The analysis does not specify a type of capture or geological-timescale carbon storage technology, enabling flexibility as technologies advance.

The researchers found that the CTBO will drive development of carbon storage technology. The cost of developing this infrastructure would be distributed among all current fossil fuel users. This allows users to define the value of carbon, rather than government mandating a price. “If the fun of driving a gas-guzzler isn’t worth the cost of paying your fuel supplier to dispose of the CO2 you generate, then you will buy a Nissan Leaf instead,” says Allen. Consumers can choose to pay the price to drive a fossil fuel vehicle, but unlike paying a carbon tax, the emissions associated with that activity will be disposed of by the fossil producer.

In addition to creating a discovered carbon value, the researchers claim the policy is simple to enact by government. Governments could use a certificate system that obliges extractors and importers of fossil fuels to recapture and store emissions generated by their activities and related to the use of their products. This certificate system would not put a cap on fossil fuel generation; it would only specify the fraction of that production that needs to be offset by capture and storage.

It important to note that CTBO is not a near-term strategy to reduce emissions in ten or fifteen years, as the initial stored fraction of emissions would be relatively small and the CTBO compliance cost correspondingly low. Instead, the researchers envision CTBO as a complementary policy to other efforts to curb emissions. “One of the main results of our paper is that a CTBO imposed alone is, ironically, too cheap, so it doesn’t drive down demand fast enough,” says Allen. “We find it works best augmented with a modest level of demand-side measures.”

In the future, the researchers plan to model the techno-economic impact of a CTBO if implemented in an actual jurisdiction, such as the European Union. This would help to quantify how the policy would influence consumer prices and resource allocation. This work will be critical to showing how a CTBO would impact inter national competitiveness. “Every climate policy has an impact on competitiveness, and in fact we assess the CTBO would be less serious than most, particularly on high-carbon industries, because many of these would be able to benefit by selling their point-source CO2,” says Allen.

Jenkins, S., et al., “Upstream Decarbonization Through a Carbon Takeback Obligation: An Affordable Backstop Climate Policy,” Joule, doi: 10.1016/j.joule.2021.10.012 (Oct. 2021).


See also: The Carbon Takeback Obligation & Carbon Removal—w/ Margriet Kuijper: Reversing Climate Change — Audio Broadcast on YouTube

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mary Wildfire December 22, 2021 at 9:23 am

I like the idea of making emitters responsible, but there’s a flaw in this scheme — carbon capture and carbon storage are NOT cheap, or practical. This is why all focus in the US is on doing this on the taxpayers’ dime — most of the new oil and gas is coming from horizontal fracking, and that has never been profitable for most of the companies — they just keep borrowing more money to keep going. If they actually had to sequester even half their CO2 — and methane — and pay the costs themselves, they’d all go out of business immediately.

As for coal, it can’t compete with gas or renewables even with no sequestration mandate. And here I’ve said that neither capture nor sequestration are practical, but that leaves out the network of pipelines to take the captured CO2 from source to wherever they try to bury it — a network estimated to be perhaps twice the size of the entire existing pipeline network.

Obviously not doable, obviously a huge environmental impact, and if you read the HuffPost piece about what happened in Satartia, Mississippi, you know people would never allow these pipelines to be built near them.

Yes, it’s true that our whole economy runs on fossil fuels and that there is great injustice of the historical big emitters telling the poor countries already being impacted more by climate change that they mustn’t gear up with fossil fuels. That’s why we continue to do nothing real about this crisis.

There ARE practical solutions, real solutions, but they involve radical change, degrowth to the economy, and they won’t make the rich richer. So governments will never support them.

Mary Wildfire, Roane County, WV


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