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16 Jun 2021, 12:27
Julian Wettengel

Negative emissions technologies must be deployed early for climate neutrality - report

Clean Energy Wire

Aside from forests and other natural greenhouse gas emission sinks, negative emissions technologies will be necessary to reach climate neutrality by mid-century, said the German Energy Agency (dena) based on a report by consultancy Prognos. Technologies, such as direct air capture or using biomass for the long-term capture of emissions, must be brought to scale as quickly as possible and the relevant infrastructure set up to ensure sustainable success, dena said, adding that a social consensus on this is necessary. However, the potential for negative CO2 emissions from technical sinks is limited, for example because there is only so much sustainable biomass and there is a strong competition with other uses; or because of high costs for new technologies. “All international scenarios and also the work on dena's lead study ‘Aufbruch Klimaneutralität’ show that work must be done on a comprehensive concept for natural and technological sinks,” said dena head Andreas Kuhlmann. “Natural sinks will not be enough,” he added. Dena currently assumes that there will still be residual emissions from the German industry and agriculture sectors of at least 60 to 70 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2045.

Years of protest against industry plans to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) as a lifeline for coal power made the technology a no-go issue for German politicians. But the new goal of climate neutrality by 2045 forces the country into a fresh debate about dealing with unavoidable CO2 emissions, for example in cement production. Chancellor Angela Merkel has said CCS will be necessary to reach the net-zero target, and her government is looking into tapping the sizeable carbon storage potential under the North Sea.

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