Carbon GeoCapture’s Innovative CC&S Approach to Meet Climate Goals and Ensure a “Just” Transition

From October 31 to November 12, approximately 20,000 people from around the world will meet in Glasgow, Scotland for the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as the COP26. This is the 26th annual Conference, and the widespread recognition of climate change and the heightened sense of urgency to act on mitigating its worst impacts is much more ubiquitous now than previous years. In fact, the premise of COP26 centers on the understated fact that, we are “currently not on track to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees[1].”

Yes, we are falling further behind in both scale and pace to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels which had been agreed with the Paris Climate Accord in 2015. The Accord was developed and adopted by 196 countries at COP21. Unfortunately, six years later, we have failed to live up to these goals, and if we continue just as we are, global temperatures will continue to rise, bringing more extreme and devastating weather patterns and impacting quality of life.

One of the central themes of COP26 is that we must work to accelerate a global transition from fossil fuels such as coal to clean power that benefits jobs, workers, and communities. This is a notable shift in messaging from previous years, where key messages completely overlooked the social costs and centered around eliminating coal and “dirty” power and transitioning immediately to “green” power. Now, climate scientists, economists, and world leaders alike recognize that the transition away from fossil fuels to clean power needs to be on what the Council for Inclusive Capitalism with the Vatican refers to as a “just” transition, ensuring we don’t lose jobs, livelihoods, and economies in the transition, and that nobody gets left behind.

Carbon management and removal, specifically through new innovative carbon capture and storage (CCS) approaches, is potentially well-positioned to significantly contribute to the reduction of carbon emissions from heavy industries, such as cement and steel, and help get us on the trajectory to meet midcentury climate goals as outlined in the Paris agreement. Carbon capture technologies, especially Direct Air Capture (DAC), that work by “capturing” carbon dioxide emitted into the air from any source are particularly promising.

The utilization of and investment in, carbon capture and storage has been gaining momentum over the past few months, especially after the August release of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which stated that carbon capture and sequestration is vital to achieving climate goals.

Heavy industries currently have limited solution options to significantly reduce their carbon footprints and will need to rely on carbon capture and storage solutions to meet climate goals. It is important to remember that there are entire communities and local economies which depend upon employment in these sectors to survive. These large workforces are important and should not be left behind while we transition to clean energy. Carbon capture and storage is potentially well-positioned to help these hard-to-decarbonize sectors, while preserving jobs and livelihoods.

I have the pleasure of serving on the Advisory Board of Carbon GeoCapture (CGC), an innovative company that is committed to addressing and mitigating climate change from both an environmental and economic standpoint through its unique carbon capture and sequestration method. CGC began developing its sequestration approach over 20 years ago. The CGC team was an early proponent of the “just” energy transition before the term was even coined and is acutely aware of the urgency to significantly impact emissions now as well as the need to ensure employees with jobs in extractive and heavy industries are not left behind.

CGC’s carbon storage method works by taking captured carbon dioxide and placing it into unconventional rock formations (coal and shale).  These formations are shallower than traditional carbon sequestration targets, which utilize “conventional” rock formations deep underground. This is a very different sequestration approach than what most fossil fuel companies have attempted (and mostly failed) to do over the last 20 years.

The widespread availability of unconventional rocks, which underlie about 75% of the world’s land mass and are near most industrial sources of emissions, will enable carbon storage on a massive scale at a quicker pace with lower regulatory, capital, transportation, and infrastructure barriers than traditional fossil fuel industry approaches.  This will accelerate project implantation, lower costs, and lower project risk. In other words, CGC’s carbon storage method can be deployed at-scale—now.

CGC’s technology reworks existing energy technologies within the same heavy industry plants that currently produce substantial carbon emissions, enabling those employed in this sector to translate their skillsets into new roles working with carbon capture. These are versatile skills, and CGC’s technology uses much of the current energy infrastructure, meaning people can transfer from carbon extractive to a carbon storage industry during the transition to clean power without requiring additional training or the development of entirely new processes and technologies—providing a significant social benefit to the communities where the company will operate.

Carbon Capture and Storage will play a vital role in both helping us meet the world’s climate goals and ensuring that nobody and no community are left behind.

— Chris Walker, Advisory Board Member, CarbonGeoCapture

[1] The Climate Transparency Report 2021 focuses on the G20 nations and there actions to address Climate Change.