Letter: Stop fossil fuel subsidies

CCS is an unproven technology

Stop fossil fuel subsidies

The revised federal climate plan released on April Fool’s Day flouts recommendations from the IPCC that the world must rapidly reduce carbon emissions by 2030, or face irreversible climate changes that threaten human civilization.

A major part of Canada’s ‘climate plan’ subsidizes the fossil fuel industry and increasing emissions, an oxymoron in itself. Besides the unjustified TMX pipeline debacle, the plan supports the development of Carbon Capture and Storage at Source (CCS), supposedly to store CO2 far underground, while most is actually piped off to oil fields for enhanced oil recovery, nullifying any climate gains.

CCS is an unproven technology, despite more than 25 years of research at some 30 sites globally, including the Boundary Dam Power Station near Estevan. Backed by hundreds of millions of tax dollars per year since 2008, they reported 5,500 tonnes of captured CO2 per year in 2014. ExxonMobil claims their Shute Creek Wyoming facility can capture up to one million tonnes of CO2/year, but have failed to meet half that target. Even if these facilities could extract a million tonnes of CO2/year, annual global emissions are now 37 GT of CO2/year (that’s 37,000,000,000 metric tonnes, and rising). You don’t need to be a math whiz to calculate that they would need 37,000 CCS facilities to offset global emissions, or 3,700 to counter just 10 per cent of emissions.

We could easily replace 60 per cent or more fossil fuel energy sources with renewable energy (wind, solar, tidal, hydroelectric, and geothermal) by 2030, but this requires federal and provincial leadership to convince industry and the public. Instead, they continue to delude themselves with carbon sequestration techniques like CCS and tree plantings, which cannot counter annual carbon emissions in the couple of decades we have left to solve the climate crisis. ‘Net-zero emissions’ is an elusive, deceptive term that erroneously infers carbon neutrality. What we need is ‘near-zero emissions’ with a clear meaning through renewables.

Geoff Strong

Atmospheric/climate scientist

Cowichan Bay