China Pushes for CO2 Storage, Not Emissions Reductions

by | Nov 6, 2009

emissions2The head of the U.S. delegation at U.N. climate talks in Barcelona this week says China should cut its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050, reports Reuters.

Jonathan Pershing told Reuters that China should cut its GHG emissions by about 50 percent, which would allow for lower targets for poorer countries and give them room to grow their economies.

Pershing also urged China, the world’s top emitter, to clarify its goals for curbing its greenhouse gases as part of a new U.N. pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol, reports Reuters.

At the G8 Summit in Italy leading industrialized nations agreed that the world needed to cut global emissions 50 percent by 2050, while G8 members — the U.S., Japan, Germany, France, the U.K., Italy, Canada and Russia — agreed to cut their own emissions 80 percent by 2050.

Pershing also said border tariffs have not been ruled out if Washington decides that foreign exporters are getting an unfair advantage under a deal in Copenhagen under which carbon curbs push up U.S. energy costs, reports Reuters.

While industrialized nations push China to curb its GHG emissions output, China is pushing to complete its first commercial-scale power plant that can capture and store emissions, reports Reuters.

Work has already started on the first stage of the power project that will eventually strip CO2 out of gasified coal before combustion, but will run first for several years as a cleaner power station, reports Reuters.

China still needs to do more research on how and where to store carbon dioxide if the technology is to get widespread adoption, as officials worry about the expense and the environmental impact of the process, such as if leakage occurred, according to the news agency.

Supporting China’s position to develop carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies, a recent report from the U.S. National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) finds that there is potential to store 3,066 gigatons of gas underground or under the seabed, equivalent to more than 400 years of current emissions, reports Reuters.

In addition to NRDC, two other organizations, the Asia Society and the Center for American Progress, are releasing a separate report this month that urges the two governments to put more money into projects in China that can better develop CCS technology, reports the New York Times’ Green Inc. blog.

The three organizations are pushing for greater cooperation between the Obama Administration and China on the issue of climate change and should support the use of carbon capture technology and the creation of a market for carbon, reports the Green Inc. blog.

The groups also stress in their reports that developing CCS technology is essential to alleviating climate change because the United States and China, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, both rely heavily on coal for their energy needs, according to the article.

A summary of the NRDC report, to be released this month, lists several carbon capture projects that have been started by state-owned enterprises in China, and recommends  substantial funding from both China and international sources to deploy and improve CCS technologies, reports the Green Inc. blog.

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