Who supports Capture Capture and Storage, and why?
The main goal of the supporters of CSS seems to that of providing a life line to the fossil fuel industry. This can be seen quite clearly in statements by the IEA about CCS and the membership lists of organizations promoting the technology.
In a Press Release about the Canadian CCS power plant IEA Executive Director Maria Van der Hoeven says, “IEA analysis has shown that without significant deployment of CCS more than two-thirds of current proven fossil fuel reserves cannot be commercialized before 2050 if the increase in global temperatures is to remain below 2 degrees celcius” (IEA, 2014). This clearly summarizes why it is important for fossil fuel companies that CCS is considered a viable solution to climate change. Without CCS they cannot continue to make a profit from fossil fuels without literally ending civilization as we know it. In-order to continue to make a profit from their traditional business the fossil fuel industry must therefore back CCS. Evidence of this can be clearly seen in two organizations promoting the technology. One is the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), and the other is the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).
The CCSA openly declares its goals as that of promoting the use of the technology and even says quite explicitly that “the CCSA is not a technical forum, professional institute or an environmental or climate campaign group” (ccsassociation.org). It is telling that this is the one time climate change is mentioned on their website and that the only roles they don’t seem to rule out are public relations and lobbying in support of CCS. It is also telling that 14 oil, gas and coal companies are members of the association. These include BP, Shell, Chevron and Statoil; all of which coincidentally are involved with exploring the waters of Aotearoa for deep sea oil.
The WBCSD is also a strong supporter of CCS. At the start of the UN climate summit in 2014 they released a video displaying the rates at which fossil fuels are used and clearly displaying the remaining emissions we can emit and remain under the 2 degrees threshold. It also showed the vast quantities of fossil fuel reserves. It depicts it as a fait accompli that more fossil fuels will be used than we can afford in-order to remain within the 2 degree warming threshold. The solution they of course propose is CCS. While in the world without CCS we keeping burning fossil fuels and exceed the 2 degree limit to the warning blare of an air horn, in the world with CCS we store precisely 44.3 Giga tones of carbon underground and therefore save the planet. The video ends with the sentence, “Carbon capture and storage will be an essential part of any 2 degree celcius solution.” Oddly enough this is the same organization which acknowledged in its own reports that CCS would not be viable on a large scale until the 2030s (WBCSD, 2006). When looking at this other organization we need to consider who is behind it. Looking at the list of public members one can see not only most of the 14 oil, coal, and gas companies which are members of the CCSA but also giants such as Coke, Pepsi, Monsanto, and a range of industry, retail, and even cosmetics companies such as L’Oreal. It is strange to watch their video with the knowledge that those who made it could change the dire facts it states if they wanted to. However their profits do not lie in changing these facts. Instead they lie in maintaining the status quo the video shows.
A full list of the WBCSD membership can be found here: www.wbcsd.org/about/members/members-list-region.aspx
What these two organizations demonstrate is that the fossil fuel industry, and presumably some other major big industry emitters (there are many concrete and rubber industry members of the WBCSD), are throwing their weight, influence and money behind CCS. The reason is clearly one of maintaining a profit through either producing fossil fuels or using a huge amount of fossil fuels. What these groups do is provide a form of greenwash for these businesses by making it look as though they are genuinely trying to find a solution to climate change while all they’re doing is protecting their own destructive businesses. Sadly with Canada, the USA, the EU and UK, and even Aotearoa, investing in CCS this campaign is working.