56 countries seek carbon capture incentives in next climate deal

56 countries seek carbon capture incentives in next climate deal
Street cleaners ride their motorised tricycles past the chimneys of a power station located on the outskirts of Beijing October 29, 2009.

GENEVA - Fiscal incentives for carbon capture should be part of the global climate change agreement that replaces the Kyoto Protocol, 56 countries belonging to the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The recommendation by the UNECE member states puts the issue formally on the table for a meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December 2015, which aims to agree a legally binding treaty to replace Kyoto.

Delegates from almost 200 nations will meet in Peru next month to work on the accord, amid new scientific warnings about risks of floods, heatwaves, ocean acidification and rising seas.

The UNECE recommendation says that commercial development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) -- taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to reduce the build-up of greenhouse gases -- does not have enough political support, and should have at least as much as other low carbon technologies.

"A post-Kyoto international agreement should accept a broad array of fiscal instruments to encourage CCS/CCUS (carbon capture utilisation and storage), but the selection of instruments should be left to the discretion of national governments," the UNECE statement said.

Governments should also work together to financially sponsor demonstration projects, UNECE said.

Beefing up alternative energy sources such as wind and solar would not be enough to tackle climate change, since those technologies do nothing to reduce carbon dioxide that has already built up in the atmosphere, which the UN says is causing global warming and dangerous increases in ocean acidity.

"Cement, steel, chemicals, refining and transportation are among many sectors that must be addressed in a manner similar to the energy sector and in a way that assuages concerns about effects on international competitiveness," the statement said.

"Properly addressing CCS/CCUS in an international agreement may be one of the few strategies to enable progress toward rapid deployment of CCS as an important part of global CO2 emission reduction activities."

The number of big CCS projects has doubled since 2010 to 22 and the technology passed a milestone this year with the start of the first coal-fired power plant equipped with CCS, the Global CCS Institute said earlier this month.

High costs of CCS -- such as to capture carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of power plants or to strip carbon from natural gas -- have discouraged far wider CCS investments despite worries about climate change.

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