In June, 2014, a man began digging into the soft red earth in the back yard of his house, on the outskirts of Kolwezi, a city in the southern Democratic Republic of the Congo. As the man later told neighbors, he had intended to create a pit for a new toilet. About eight feet into the soil, his shovel hit a slab of gray rock that was streaked with black and punctuated with what looked like blobs of bright-turquoise mold. He had struck a seam of heterogenite, an ore that can be refined into cobalt, one of the elements used in lithium-ion batteries.
As the world dices with the climate emergency, businesses and governments are starting to push funding toward technology that aims to trap planet-heating gases rather than let them saturate the atmosphere.
Almost every international climate change scenario under the 2015 Paris Agreement shows the need for an enormous ramp-up of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies to meet global goals. Timing matters, not just scale.
A greenhouse gas that can cause 12,000 times more warming per tonne than carbon dioxide is rising unexpectedly in the atmosphere, despite reports by its major producers, China and India, that they've mostly eliminated emissions of the gas.
Atmospheric gas measurements at five stations around the world show that emissions of HFC-23 or trifluoromethane reached a record high in 2018 of 15,900 tonnes, reports a study led by Kieran Stanley, a visiting research fellow at the University of Bristol.
As we ring in the new decade, it has become ever more apparent that the next ten years will be crucial to leaping on decarbonization efforts. Time is not on our side. We cannot favor one technology over another. An all-of-the-above approach is necessary. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies must be part of the portfolio of solutions to decrease emissions from energy-intensive sectors and existing infrastructure, as well as remove CO2 already present in the atmosphere.
Once lavished with huge incentives, the German wind industry is being hit hard after the government recently ended the huge subsidies that were once aimed at expanding the installation of wind energy capacity.
Power grid operators had been struggling to keep the grid stable due to erratic feed-in and the subsidized feed-in of wind energy caused German electricity prices to become among the most expensive worldwide.
A sense of urgency to keep global emissions of greenhouse gases from peaking beyond 2020 is bringing environmentalists to accept the oft-contentious carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology. “Undoubtedly, we have to move away from fossil fuels,” Nobel Peace Prize winner and climate scientist Rajendra Pachauri told me, “but given the fact that we need to urgently reduce emissions, we have to adopt options which certainly include [carbon dioxide removal] technologies as well as CCS options, with large scale forestry activities as well.”