The world is confronting a climate emergency. Avoiding climate catastrophe requires an immediate and dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that is possible only with a significant investment of public resources in proven mitigation measures, beginning with eliminating fossil fuel use and halting deforestation.
Over 500 organizations across the United States in Canada are expressing deep concerns about the US and Canadian governments’ support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies.
“Driving up more funding for carbon capture technology is a subsidy for the fossil fuel industry,” said Tom Goldtooth, the Executive Director of IEN. “Oil, coal and gas will use these funds to build out more pipelines and concentrate fossil fuel pollution on already impacted Indigenous nations and environmental justice communities. Billions of dollars for carbon capture essentially redirects money away from renewable energy like solar and wind. We do not have time and money to waste on more questionable carbon capture infrastructure.”
Despite occupying center stage in the “net-zero” climate plans trumpeted by the United States and Canada at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate, government spending programs, and bills pending before both Congress and Parliament, carbon capture is not a climate solution. On the contrary, investing in carbon capture delays the needed transition away from fossil fuels and other combustible energy sources. It poses significant new environmental, health, and safety risks, particularly to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities already overburdened by industrial pollution, dispossession, and the impacts of climate change.
Pledges to achieve “net zero” emissions through the use of CCS technologies rely on the flawed premise that we can continue burning fuels indefinitely by capturing some of the carbon emissions and offsetting the rest.
Technological carbon capture is a dangerous distraction. We don’t need to fix fossil fuels. We need to ditch them. CSS does not halt the core drivers of the climate crisis (fossil fuel production and consumption) or meaningfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, it prolongs reliance on fossil fuels and, perversely, increases oil production through “enhanced oil recovery.”
CCS is at odds with a just energy transition and the principles of environmental justice. CCS is neither economically sound nor feasible at scale. Carbon capture schemes are unnecessary, ineffective, and most alarmingly. They are a threat for the local communities, particularly to Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities that are already overburdened by industrial pollution, dispossession, and the impacts of climate change.
The time is now for governments to reject federal funding for CCS technologies, immediately end subsidies for enhanced oil recovery, and instead prioritize investments in safe and sustainable climate solutions and equitable and just transitioning of workers and communities to a fossil-free, clean energy economy.
For more information ciel.org/carboncaptureandstorage.
Cate Bonacini, Center for International Environmental Law, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tamra Gilbertson, Indigenous Environmental Network, email@example.com