Wednesday, July 7, 2010


The brief report provides new analysis of why carbon capture and storage is a false climate solution that can’t deliver the emissions reductions its industry and government backers worldwide are claiming. 

The report can be downloaded via this link:, which is the NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark website dedicated to CCS solely.

NOAH / Friends of the Earth Denmark
NOAH is a grassroots organization founded in 1969. We became a member of FoE in 1988.

They publish a quarterly magazine and 2-3 books in Danish each year. Their main national campaigns concern transportation, dioxins and biotechnology.

They  are participating in the following FoE campaigns: "European campaign to halt GM pollution" and "New Local Partners for Sustainability". They  have and are, still working on the Sustainable Europe and Environmental Space concepts.

NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark Shows that Capturing CO2 and Storing It Underground Is Not a Solution to Climate Change

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, June 2, 2010 – 
The technology known as 'Carbon Capture and Storage' (CCS) cannot deliver the reductions in CO2 emissions that the proponents of CCS are claiming, according to a report published today by NOAH/ Friends of the Earth Denmark.[1]

If CCS is chosen as a major strategy to mitigate carbon emissions from coal power plants and coal fuelled industries, nearly 90% of emissions expected between 2010 and 2050 from the large coal fuelled plants would reach the atmosphere anyway, according to the new report.

Palle Bendsen, spokesperson for NOAH / Friends of the Earth Denmark said, “When CCS technology is observed over time and across the sectors where it is planned to be applied – when we watch the whole film as opposed to the single snapshot of one power plant or a single year in the far future – it is obvious that CCS cannot deliver. Institutions like the International Energy Agency and IPCC must take into consideration the whole picture and review their assessment of this dubious technology”

The available global carbon budget is so small that global emissions must peak before 2015 if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change. That is a clear message from recent scientific studies. From 2015 onward, emissions must decline rapidly. Any mitigation tool must be seen from this perspective. However, carbon capture and storage cannot fit into such a scenario because it is impossible to deploy early enough. On top of that, CCS will be ineffective and extremely costly.
Countries like China, the US, Germany, Spain, Australia and South Africa, among others, plan to use CCS to try to mitigate the contribution of fossil fuel emissions to global warming. EU has set large sums aside to finance 12 demonstration plants over the next 10 years. The climate law proposed in the US has similar provisions for CCS.
Palle Bendsen said: “Financing CCS is doomed to be a huge misuse of public funds. Our report shows why. EU and governments should direct their subsidies exclusively to energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewables, as well as finance development of sustainable energy supply systems in developing countries. That’s the way to secure decreasing emissions.”
“CCS will lock in coal. Though far from being commercially ready, CCS is being used as an excuse to continue to build coal power plants that are 'CCS-ready.' But such plants will be preserved unchanged for many years to come. ‘CCS-ready’ is a meaningless term,” he added.
“It is obvious that CCS is competing with renewables for R&D resources and capital, thus preventing the rapid development of sustainable energy supply systems.. What we need is a fossil free future. We must reduce energy demands in rich countries with high emissions, and we must increase energy efficiency.” Palle Bendsen added.
CCS is often called a “bridging technology,” connecting a dirty fossil fuel present with a bright green future. This is a false picture. It will take a very long time before CCS would be able to deliver any significant reductions.
CCS is a technology to keep the fossil fuel industries in business with large public subsidies.

Main findings of the report:

More than 350 billion tonnes CO2 will be emitted from coal plants to the atmosphere despite a fast deployment of CCS in a scenario with CO2-emissions decreasing to 50% by 2050.  

Emitting 350 billion tonnes of CO2 will make demand on 90% of the remaining budget for CO2 from all fossil fuels 2010-2050. (Coal represents only 42% of emissions from all fossil fuels). 

Only 46 billion tonnes of CO2 or 11% of CO2 emissions will be avoided between 2010 and 2050. Until 2030 only 7 billion tonnes of CO2 will be avoided despite a fast deployment of CCS.

For more information please contact:

Palle Bendsen, climate spokesperson for NOAH / Friends of the Earth Denmark,
+45 98 14 76 95, palle(at) 

Kim Ejlertsen, climate spokesperson for NOAH / Friends of the Earth Denmark,
+45 57 52 75 92, kim(at) 

NOAH/Friends of the Earth Denmark’s website exclusively dealing with CCS:  (in English)

[1] The report by NOAH/ Friends of the Earth Denmark, “An assessment of cumulative CO2 reductions from carbon capture and storage on coal fuelled plants in a carbon constrained world,” is available at
Alternative scenario without CCS:
"Europe’s Share of the Climate Challenge: Domestic Actions and International Obligations to Protect the Planet"
A study prepared by Stockholm Environment Institute in partnership with Friends of the Earth Europe showed that emission reductions of at least 40% below 1990 levels within Europe by 2020, and cuts of 90% by 2050, are possible without CCS, nuclear, agrofuels and offsetting.   

Apart from this the downsides of carbon capture and storage technologies are many:
a.    CCS will not only mean a prolongation but even entail an increase in the use of coal of 25-40%, which in itself is linked with serious negative social, health and environmental impacts. 
b.    CCS applied worldwide would according to IEA require infrastructure for transport (pipelines and ships) that is much larger than the present transport infrastructure for all commodities put together.
c.    CCS will require much more water per produced kWh, thus competing for a vital resource already in great demand. This especially disqualifies CCS as a technology to be applied at inland facilities with freshwater cooling in countries like China, India, Spain, South Africa and the US.
d.    CCS will be extremely expensive. The chain of costs of a coal-fired CCS plant involve: extraction and transport of approximately 40% more coal, construction of the CCS plant, capture of CO2, construction of transport infrastructure, transport of captured CO2, injection and storage of captured CO2, safeguarding storage, monitoring and control of storage facilities. This is why CCS will require large-scale public co-financing. There is no way it could be commercially viable to introduce CCS without this.
e.    The environmental, social and health damages due to extraction of coal is most often incurred upon people not benefitting from the energy services that rely on coal as fuel. The same goes for the risks related to possible leakages from underground storage. 
f.     The long time liability concerning carbon storage is an issue that remains unsolved. According to the EU-directive on CCS, private operators can transfer liability to governments only 20 years after the storage site is sealed and closed.  
g.    CCS will not work well together with an energy supply system with a large share of renewables. The costs of CCS would mean that the plants will be set to deliver base load at full steam, thus not working well with oscillating renewables like wind and solar. 
h.    Last but not least, as CCS competes with renewables for R&D resources and capital, CCS will in itself prevent the rapid development of sustainable energy supply systems for an energy efficient future with reduced energy demands.