Teresa Ribera, acting Spanish Minister for the Energy Transition, within the Spanish presidency of the EU, has called for today, in collaboration with the International Energy Agency, a meeting that will bring together energy and environment representatives from around the world. The meeting will showcase the different positions of the countries on the convenience of accelerating the pace of elimination of fossil fuels, the main cause of climate change. The meeting is chaired by Fatih Birol, director general of the International Energy Agency.
At the inauguration, the Spanish minister demanded to accelerate the decarbonization of the economy and its electrification.
The meeting takes place after the recent presentation of the results of the technical dialogue held by representatives of the countries to prepare the first draft of a grand global balance sheet on compliance with the Paris Agreement.
This document, published by the secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention, has warned that to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, a cut in global emissions of 43% and 60% is needed by 2030 and 2035 respectively compared with the levels of 2019. And that to achieve the objectives set “it is necessary to progressively eliminate all fossil fuels” although the document limits this elimination to those fossil fuels that lack emissions reduction systems, that is, that do not have coupled emissions technologies. capture of CO2 for release into the atmosphere.
This statement has become one of the great battlehorses in the discussions prior to the celebration of the next UN climate summit (to be held in December in Dubai).
The summit comes preceded by recent statements by United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, who repeatedly invites nations to increase their climate ambition. “Humanity has opened the gates of hell. This awful heat is having terrifying effects. Distraught farmers see their crops destroyed by floods. Sultry temperatures that cause illness. And thousands of people fleeing in terror from the historic and raging fires. Climate action is not up to the magnitude of the challenge,” he noted when opening the Climate Ambition Summit at the UN headquarters in New York (United States).
The great debate continues to be how to resolve the enormous contradiction posed by the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels to mitigate warming and the expansion plans of the oil and gas industry.
In order not to appear as a climate change denier, the fossil fuel industry is actively promoting the idea that fossil fuels can be “reduced” and that coal, oil and gas can continue to be burned as long as they are prevented. its emissions enter the atmosphere. Their position is that carbon capture and utilization (CCU) and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies can play a sufficiently important role in reducing emissions in the context of a transition quick move away from fossil fuels.
This position is openly rejected by many scientists, experts and numerous countries, who consider that promoting or endorsing these systems is an attempt to delay or postpone action, given that until now these formulas have been largely unsuccessful or have directly involved failures.
The president of the next climate conference (COP28), Sultan Al Jaber, who is also CEO of the United Arab Emirates national oil company (Adnoc), has also referred to carbon capture and storage systems and has called for a “phasing out” rather than a “phasing out” of fossil fuels.
Adnoc is spending $15 billion on so-called "low carbon" solutions, including a CCS project, but this figure is dwarfed by $150 billion to expand oil and gas production from $2.9 billion to $5 billion. of barrels per day from 2023 to 2027.
Various organizations have noted that the world's largest coal and oil producing nations want to overemphasize and exalt the role that CO2 capture and storage could play and
And in the conclusions of working group III of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the conclusions of scientists in favor of a gradual elimination of fossil fuels were weakened, according to various sources. Specifically, Saudi Arabia managed to persuade the authors that a statement should be omitted stating that “the focus of decarbonization efforts in energy systems should be on a rapid shift towards zero-carbon sources and the “active elimination of all fossil fuels”; Their argument is that it “undermines all carbon removal technologies” (CCU/CCS).
Supporters of CO2 capture and storage technologies defend it by saying that it takes time and money to take advantage of its full potential, while its detractors believe that it is a new strategy to “wash the image of the fossil fuel industry.” and that these systems have not worked nor will they work.
They argue in this sense that fossil fuel companies have used these technologies for more than 50 years to extract more oil and gas and that until now they have accumulated failures. The vast majority of projects don't even get off the ground, and those that do frequently fall behind schedule and perform poorly.
Their argument is that they are prohibitively expensive projects compared to other solutions to mitigate emissions and given that the measures have to be taken in a few years "we need to focus investment on the proven technology that we already have to decarbonize, such as the electrification and modernization of the grid, the generation and storage of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”
Supporters of these capture and storage systems argue that they are safe, but require transportation infrastructure to transport the captured CO2 to the appropriate locations where it is stored. And in fact, IPCC experts have warned that there are real risks of CO2 leaking from pipelines and geological storage. Despite this, there are only 51 large-scale carbon capture and storage projects worldwide, of which only 19 are operational. However, most are simply pilot-scale projects that demonstrate only part of the operation.
The IPCC (experts who prepare UN climate change reports) has been deeply skeptical of these technologies and has warned against over-reliance on them and has noted that their future implementation is uncertain, with multiple viability limitations surrounding them. and could have adverse impacts on human rights and ecosystems.25
In 2009, the International Energy Agency's roadmap set the goal of developing 100 large-scale projects between 2010 and 2020 to meet global climate goals, storing around 300 MtCO2 per year. However, the actual capacity is only around 40 Mt: barely 13% of the target