I was glad to attend GHGT-11 in Kyoto. I came with two of my colleagues, Sean McCoy and Ellina Levina, both great experts. We were not able to travel with the whole team, but everybody in our team contributed to the various talks and papers – I want to acknowledge them all. Thanks colleagues!! Many thanks also to IEAGHG and RITE once more for giving such prominence for the IEA in the conference programme.
The venue for the event was inspiring: after all, the week was spent in the same place where the Kyoto Protocol was once signed. I guess there’s been quite some progress in awareness of climate change since. But the true global actions are still somewhat off.
It was encouraging to see the amount of research that is going on in various aspects of CCS, by industries, universities and research institutes large and small. All the talks on post- and pre-combustion, oxy-firing, novel approaches, various aspects of storage and transport etc. give an idea that countries, governments and industries have not given up on CCS, quite the opposite. As the IEA keeps saying, based on extensive energy modelling: we still need CCS, perhaps more than ever. But a sense of urgency in starting deployment is clearly lacking at the moment, and has been for a couple of years now. It reflects the economic crisis situation in many parts of the world, and the general lack of enthusiasm in driving forward strong policy on climate change. And as CCS is (apart from some areas of CO2 utilisation) totally dependent on climate policy, this really is felt at the moment. As I hope we highlighted in the plenary, CCS really needs strong policy, probably more than any other low-carbon energy at the moment. So I would reiterate that this community has not only an opportunity, but also a responsibility to deliver a balanced message on CCS: both its pros and cons and especially why we such strong policies to drive it.
But, what is important is the knowledge that we have the technology and we know it works. Hundreds of papers and posters gave, once more, lots of evidence that we really are able to capture, transport and store CO2 and do it safely. I came back to Paris with lots of new knowledge on technology and projects, and with the knowledge that the CCS community is alive and thriving, even if the implementation of large-scale projects is currently slow. But loads of good research is being done, and this is critically important: we need to build knowledge and capacity to be ready when deployment really starts to take off. It was great to see many new young faces in the crowds!
I know the GHGT series has profiled itself as a technical conference over the years, and it does that job really well. In addition, the plenary sessions and some panel talks bring a policy angle to all the parallel technical streams. I feel that many aspects from the technical sessions could be drawn into the policy sphere more efficiently. So my suggestion for GHGT-12 in Austin would be to encourage some more content (=papers) in policy design issues. What are the good policies that will help drive CCS projects to markets? How could policy-makers make the best use of them? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should start changing the “tone and feel” of the series too much at all. But perhaps a touch more policy content could be warranted.
And lastly, IEAGHG has to be commended for having been such a great custodian of the GHGT series. See you at GHGT-12.
PS. Went totally mad with the camera: the autumn leaves’ season in Kyoto is something that everyone should see once in their lifetime!
Blogged by Juho Lipponen,
Head of CCS Unit, IEA