2021 Saw the Biggest Increase In CO2 Emissions Ever. A New Report Says Carbon Capture Is Essential.
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A new warning from the Energy Transitions Commission says removing carbon dioxide from the air is essential to meeting global climate targets. The news comes as 2021 saw the biggest output in CO2 emissions in history.
A new report from the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC), the U.K.-based economic growth and climate change think tank, says renewable energy alone is not enough to curb climate change, and more attention to carbon offsets management is key to meeting the target of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels.
Lord Adair Turner, the former head of the CBI and ex-chair of the UK government’s Committee on Climate Change and now chair of the Energy Transitions Commission, says the ETC encourages more concrete standards and claims around offsets.
In its new report, entitled Mind the Gap: How Carbon Dioxide Removals Must Complement Deep Decarbonisation to Keep 1.5°C Alive, the ETC reviewed renewable energy resources, as well as carbon capture technology and direct air capture, which it says, are still quite expensive.
“It would be very unfortunate to take the past problems of the carbon markets and use that to say we should not use them at all,” Turner said. “This is potentially a very large flow of money. So we should try to make sure that financial flow, which is valuable, is provided.”
The think tank also pointed to tree planting as a means to absorb carbon dioxide, but Turner warned that funding for forests will be difficult without offsets.
Record emissions in 2021
The report comes as new data found global energy-related carbon emission rose by six percent last year to more than 36 billion metric tons—the highest level ever recorded.
“The increase in global CO2 emissions of over 2 billion metric tons was the largest in history in absolute terms, more than offsetting the previous year’s pandemic-induced decline,” the International Energy Agency said last week.
“The recovery of energy demand in 2021 was compounded by adverse weather and energy market conditions – notably the spikes in natural gas prices – which led to more coal being burned despite renewable power generation registering its largest ever growth,” it said.
China was a key emissions contributor, with its output rising nearly 12 billion metric tons, 33 percent of the total for 2021.
“The emissions increases in those two years in China more than offset the aggregate decline in the rest of the world over the same period,” the report explained.
The ETC says carbon markets need to be better regulated in order to better manage funding, particularly for projects that are making meaningful strides in reducing emissions. The report points to existing financial trading markets as a model for managing the process. It also suggests modern monitoring techniques including satellites to track progress.
Lead image Marcin Jozwiak on Unsplash