Can Climate Be Reclaimed: Carbon Storage

Oxford Energy Society presents this talk by Professor Stuart Haszeldine tomorrow, Wednesday 22 January in the Becket Room, OUCE, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PY.

Massive extraction and combustion of fossil fuels in the energy system: coal, oil and gas, now combined with over-harvesting of biomass has overstocked the atmosphere with Greenhouse Gases to force climate warming, frequently evidenced by weird weather. Additional measurable effects are acidification of the upper ocean, thinning of Arctic sea ice, and sea level rise – which could be 5 metres by 2100. Reducing energy emissions from fossil fuels could be as simple as improving efficiency, switching energy sources for electricity and fuel for heat. The UK has several examples of these energy innovations at pilot stage. Additionally, several styles of technological fix could be deployed, ranging from capture of emissions at sources, through to recapture of already emitted Greenhouse Gases from thin air. Here the energy system extends to tackle carbon emissions across the whole economy. Disposal of CO2 for geological timescales is required and multiple methods exist, which means gaining an adequate understanding of subsurface porespace and fluids geology, and an understanding of mineral geochemistry or organic adsorption. But continued support from governments and investment by fossil fuel providers means that the world is on a track towards a crash of natural environmental services. Radical and rapid and fundamental change is needed. Energy markets have not delivered reductions of emissions by charging to pollute. I suggest a simple and direct legal obligation: all fossil fuel producers or importers will capture and store the consequences of the product they produce. Or cease operations.

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