Engineers call on UN to back 'secure and safe' CCS through Paris deal

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Letter urges Christiana Figueres to consider the potential of carbon capture and storage in the upcoming climate talks in Paris

A group of leading academics has published an open letter to the UN, arguing carbon capture and storage (CCS) is "secure and safe" and urging negotiators in the upcoming climate talks in Paris this December to formally recognise its potential in any new international treaty.

The letter, which was sent to UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) executive secretary Christiana Figueres yesterday, was signed by 41 experts on CO2 storage from 13 countries, including scientists from the British Geological Society, the University of St Andrews, Imperial College London, Stanford University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, among many others.

"As geoscientists and engineers representing decades of scientific research worldwide we would like to reassure the UNFCCC that the geological storage of CO2 with relevance to CCS is safe, secure and effective, and we have considerable evidence to show this," the letter states.

The experts said they have "high confidence" CO2 storage can be secure over geological timescales if done in appropriate places. They go on to say that leakage is very unlikely, manageable, and low risk.

"The residual risk of leakage can be managed by well-understood procedures and presents very low risk of harm to the climate, environment or human health," said the letter.

The letter urged Figueres to ensure the potential for CCS to contribute towards climate change mitigation is recognised in the Paris climate negotiations.

It referenced a long list of supporting studies and papers, pointing out that natural reservoirs have held billions of tonnes of CO2 underground for millions of years, and that millions of tonnes of CO2 have already been injected and stored underground over the past 40 years through pilot studies and industry practices.

"The knowledge and techniques required to select secure storage sites are well established, being built upon decades of experience in hydrocarbon exploration and production," said the letter.

The experts also highlight findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that limiting global warming to below 2C without CCS is unachievable.

"The security of properly selected and regulated storage sites presents no barrier to its further deployment and enables its important contribution to climate change mitigation," said the letter. "We urge you to reflect this position in the content and outcome of your forthcoming talks in Paris this December."

This article is part of BusinessGreen's Road to Paris Hub, hosted in association with PwC

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