Carbon Management

Key Technology in the Fight Against Climate Change

In Europe, there is a widespread belief that decisive climate policy will simultaneously bring about an economic miracle. People feel superior to the United States in terms of climate policy. After all, the U.S. had rejected the Kyoto Agreement and, under President Donald Trump, pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2020. While Europe acknowledges the leading role of the United States in the military and in the digital sector, it believes it is ahead in renewable energies, electromobility and heat pumps. In the meantime, however, Brussels and European capitals are beginning to understand that this European leadership, which was thought to be secure, is being seriously challenged by the forces unleashed by the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

In early January 2023, German Economics Minister Robert Habeck visited Norway to see Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology in action. Just a few days earlier, the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection (BMWK) had presented an evaluation report on the Carbon Dioxide Storage Act of 2012, which for the first time gave CCS technology a positive assessment. A rethink is emerging.

The German government is currently working on a carbon strategy and aims to have a law in place before the end of 2023 that will enable the capture, transport and storage of CO2. This opens a new chapter in the political debate about how to deal with CO2. In view of the protests that CCS has provoked in the past among environmental associations and the Green Party, this cautious opening of the debate by Robert Habeck can certainly be described as a step toward pragmatizing the German government's climate policy. Without it, Germany would isolate itself from climate policies around the world and increasingly in Europe.

This is because the EU Commission has taken important steps in the direction of CCS in its draft Net Zero Industry Act of spring 2023. CCS is regarded here as a net zero technology that is to be promoted by the state.

For Germany and the EU, it is now a matter of creating a legal framework to capture and transport the emissions that are difficult to avoid, for example from basic industries (e.g. chemicals, cement, lime, glass), and to inject them into safe storage sites. In the sense of a CO2 cycle economy, this also makes it possible to use CO2 as a raw material. CCS and CCU (Carbon Capture and Utilization) are climate protection technologies and must be recognized as such.

Outside Europe, the use of CCS and CCU should be a central option not only in the context of industrial production, but also in energy production itself. It is true that the expansion of renewable energies and the production and use of hydrogen play the central role in climate policy everywhere in the world. But we will not stop China, Indonesia, India or Colombia - to name just a few countries - from continuing to use their fossil energy sources. Therefore, it seems unwise in terms of climate policy to try to stop technologies for the capture, storage and use of CO2 here.

CCUS is therefore a topic that will play a major role at the next COP meetings.