Max Fawcett and Environmental Defence’s Julia Levin test our faith in carbon capture technology and question why taxpayers — and not industry — might be paying for it.
Last year, the approval of the U.S.’s Inflation Reduction Act initiated billions of dollars in clean-technology subsidies. Since then, Canada has been feeling the pressure to provide similar supports for the industry here. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has hinted that it could be announced in the federal budget, which is expected in March.
A cleantech strategy oil companies say is essential to meeting climate goals is carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). Carbon capture includes trapping carbon dioxide and storing it underground so it can’t get into the atmosphere.
Given the prospect of additional federal subsidies for carbon capture in the federal budget, this week’s episode of Maxed Out enters the debate on whether the enormously wealthy oil and gas industry should be getting subsidies for carbon capture.
Julia Levin is adamant that the industry should not get any taxpayer money. Levin is the associate director of the national climate program of climate advocacy group Environmental Defence. For her, CCUS is the wrong way to address the climate crisis in Canada.
She points out its inefficiency, saying the technology only captures a “tiny fraction” of emissions from fossil fuels.
“We have solutions that can virtually eliminate the production and use of fossil fuels over the next 10 to 15 years, and those are receiving just a fraction of the support that oil and gas companies are receiving,” Levin says.
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The solution she’s referring to is renewable energy.
“Since 2010, the cost of renewable energy [like] solar has fallen by 85 per cent, onshore wind by 68 [per cent]. That growth in capacity in the last 10 years of renewable technologies has been kind of awesome to behold and surpasses the wildest expectations,” says Levin. “In the last 20 years, CCUS has barely delivered anything additional despite billions of dollars.”
Levin argues that it’s not about telling oil and gas companies not to invest in CCUS. “We're just saying, ‘You have enough profits. You've made enough in the last year to cover your CCUS costs. That $50 billion you're asking for from governments, pay for it yourselves.’”
Get a better understanding of carbon capture technology in contrast to renewables by listening to Episode 8 of Maxed Out on Apple Podcast or Spotify.
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There seems to be a
There seems to be a consistent pattern here. I asked in a webinar on energy why the government keeps making the worst choices such as small nuclear reactors, carbon capture and storage and appointing an industry lobbyist to head Canada's Pharmacare program. "It's because that's what the lobbyists want" was the answer. We appointed our elected representatives to lead, not hand control control to the wealthy corporations. This was covered in the award winning documentary , "The Corporation" and in the followup, "The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel."
We all need to start doing
We all need to start doing our homework and relying much less on promises from the fossil fuel industry. It is the height of naïve optimism to believe the industry that has brought us to the edge of climate disaster, after knowing full well for 40 years what the effects of continuing down the extractivist road would be, is going to be the industry to pull us out of climate free fall.
This is one more waste of tax dollars...most of the CO2 captured will likely be used to coax the last dregs of oil out of those as yet unclosed wells.....and money that could be going into solar factories, and solar installation on every suitable roof will be thrown away, on the climate criminals that have brought us to where we are now.
By all means build the plants and try out the technology.....but Big Oil can do it privately....as free market capitalism dictates. We should demand they get at it, while we put tax dollars to better use,.
I do not believe in carbon
I do not believe in carbon capture, I have never believed in it since before it became a "thing". I am no scientist but the colossal scale that would be required to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and the tame scale it will most likely require boggles the mind. It has always struck me as a perfect South Seas Bubble boondoggle. Let those who believe in it, or who are the biggest contributors to atmospheric carbon put their own money into the development of the technology. Their failure will justify the anti-carbonizing and shuttering of the fossil fuel industry. If, in some wild and woolly future, carbon capture becomes a viable reality, the cautious resumption of fossil fueled energy production might be considered.
Two different processes.
Two different processes.
Carbon capture targets concentrated (high CO2) industrial waste streams. Expensive, energy-intensive, and inefficient. Does not capture downstream emissions.
Carbon removal removes dilute (400 ppm) CO2 from the atmosphere. Even harder to do.
Neither carbon capture nor carbon removal captures other fossil-fuel pollutants.
Global warming is not the only reason to stop burning fossil fuels.
Fossil fuel combustion produces a wide spectrum of pollutants. The fossil fuel industry also gives us ocean acidification; deadly smog; pipeline, rail car, and oil rig explosions; oil spills; tanker collisions; industry accidents; refinery pollution; sour gas leaks; air pollution; water contamination; asthma; cancer; acid rain; toxic tailings lakes; coal mine accidents and disease; obliteration of landscapes and wildlife (oilsands, mountaintop removal mining), etc.
Burning less fossil fuel saves two birds with one stone.
Once again taxpayers on the
Once again taxpayers on the hook for corporate welfare.
“Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini.