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Sustainable Carbon Cycles

New Sustainable Carbon Cycles proposal pushes forward carbon management in Europe

December 15, 2021 Work Area: Carbon Capture

BRUSSELS — Clean Air Task Force (CATF) welcomes the European Commission’s climate ambition and leadership on decarbonization, innovation, and the pursuit of policies to decouple greenhouse gas emissions from economic growth.

While emissions reductions through existing asset and energy system transformation are most pressing, CATF supports the development of all forms of carbon removal – including nature-based carbon removal – where carbon dioxide (CO2) can be verifiably and permanently removed from the atmosphere. CATF strongly supports the European Commission’s initiative on the topic, including the development of an action plan to promote the timely commercialisation of carbon removal and storage as well as the associated infrastructure.

“While immediate emissions reductions are crucial, looking ahead to a negative emissions future puts the EU at the forefront of climate policy,” said Lee Beck, CATF’s International Director, Carbon Capture. “If done right, the EU’s carbon removal initiatives have incredible potential to become global standard setters for others to copy.”

CATF welcomes the intention to create an internal market for capture, use, and storage of CO2 with the intention to support the development of emerging climate technologies. Direct Air Capture and waste-to-energy, for example, have the potential to remove CO2 measurably and permanently, with a relatively small land-use footprint, if they are underpinned by a backbone of CO2 transport and storage infrastructure. However, the EU’s forthcoming certification and accounting framework must provide a robust means of assessing the permanence and reliability of carbon removal projects.

Transport and Storage Infrastructure

In order to develop carbon management technologies, pan-European CO2 infrastructure to enable the transport of CO2 to storage sites will be necessary. CO2 infrastructure is needed to transport CO2 captured from point sources, including industrial facilities such as steel and cement plants, but will also be needed to transport CO2 removed from the atmosphere through technological means. This will include direct air capture plants, as well as carbon capture applied to bio-energy and waste-to-energy plants, which are associated with cities and widely dispersed. Although industrial carbon capture and carbon removal technologies provide distinct climate value, large-scale transport and storage infrastructure is the common enabler and the likely bottleneck for rapid deployment.

The current proposal does not sufficiently address the role of infrastructure and its essential role in Europe’s journey to climate neutrality both in near, and long-term measures. Given the long lead times in infrastructure development, it is critical that the Commission facilitate actions which will enable CO2 transport and storage infrastructure to be developed in line with the EU’s climate goals. Furthermore, the Commission should outline the need for various methods of CO2 transport, including pipeline, ship, barge, rail and truck to be included in its vision for a CO2 transport network. This will allow greater flexibility for project development across the continent.

“Infrastructure for CO2 transport and storage is crucial for both negative emissions efforts and industrial decarbonisation,” said Alessia Virone, CATF’s EU Affairs Manager. “The European Commission has experience in developing transnational infrastructure across member states and ensuring synergies between different policies  – and that’s exactly what is needed to drive down the upfront costs of deployment for these vital new technologies.”

CCUS Forum

Enabling stakeholders across society to actively discuss and collaborate in an open, transparent forum will allow carbon management technologies to benefit from the growing political momentum they are receiving. CATF applauds the Commission’s decision to hold an annual CCUS Forum, which will enable technological progress and stakeholder feedback.

In addition to an annual CCUS Forum, CATF strongly recommends establishing working groups to allow members from academia, industry, civil society, and labour unions as well as local and national government to participate in fora where open discussion and collaboration can take place on a more regular basis.


Press Contact

Rowan Emslie, Communications Director, EU, remslie@cleanairtaskforce.org, +32 476-97-36-42

About Clean Air Task Force

Clean Air Task Force (CATF) is a global nonprofit organization working to safeguard against the worst impacts of climate change by catalyzing the rapid development and deployment of low-carbon energy and other climate-protecting technologies. With 25 years of internationally recognized expertise on climate policy and a fierce commitment to exploring all potential solutions, CATF is a pragmatic, non-ideological advocacy group with the bold ideas needed to address climate change. CATF has offices in Boston, Washington D.C., and Brussels, with staff working virtually around the world.  

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