x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Advocates push greenhouse gas burial as worthy of carbon credits

Schemes to bury greenhouse gases underground could face setbacks if countries do not sign off this year on proposals to award them carbon credits.

Schemes to bury greenhouse gases underground could be set back if nations do not sign off this year on proposals to award them carbon credit. Saul Loeb / AFP
Schemes to bury greenhouse gases underground could be set back if nations do not sign off this year on proposals to award them carbon credit. Saul Loeb / AFP

Schemes to bury greenhouse gases underground could be set back if nations do not sign off this year on proposals to award them carbon credits.

Carbon capture technology, in which greenhouse gas emissions are funnelled from industrial plants to oilfields or other underground reservoirs, has been named alongside solar power and reforestation as a practice that developing countries can use to cut emissions and earn carbon credits.

But its inclusion on that list hinges on the resolution of sensitive issues, including how to establish the boundaries of such a project and whom to hold liable in case dangerous amounts of carbon dioxide escape from a reservoir.

"To have it fully approved in Durban would be very challenging," said Pedro Martins Barata, a member of the executive board of the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), according to Reuters. He was referring to talks to be held in South Africa in November.

Mr Barata and other UN delegates were in Abu Dhabi last week to iron out the details before carbon capture goes before representatives of nearly 200 nations for final approval at the UN's final climate negotiations in Durban.

Those talks will centre not only on carbon capture, but also on whether to find a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol, the binding agreement between 37 industrial and transitioning nations to cut emissions, or to scrap it after it expires next year.

Japan, Russia and Canada, among others, have said they are not interested in a future commitment.

The fear is that the Kyoto Protocol's system of carbon credits, which has encouraged nations including Egypt and Uzbekistan to make their gas pipelines and factories more environment-friendly, could be abandoned along with the protocol itself.

"CDM has been such a success in motivating people to reduce emissions that it would be a tremendous pity to waste that," Mr Barata told Reuters last week. "If you do not have an agreement to extend Kyoto, you would want to ensure there is some kind of extension for CDM."

Carbon capture developers are facing other setbacks, including what they say is too little government funding and public fears about storing large quantities of carbon dioxide underground.

"It's very difficult getting these projects off the ground," said Jeff Chapman, the chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association in London. "There's bound to be some casualties along the way. But once we get the train out of the station, it will take off."

* with Reuters

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