Carbon management in the form of carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) and carbon dioxide removals (CDR) will be necessary to achieve global climate targets. However, an excessive or unrealistic reliance on these technologies carries the risk of delaying the industrial transformation to climate neutrality and locking in fossil-fuel pathways. A clear understanding and differentiation of use cases, benefits and limitations is needed to design a regulatory framework that enables the optimal development and deployment of carbon management technologies.
Each form of CCS, CCU and CDR will make different contributions to and pose different risks for the industrial sector’s transformation to climate neutrality. Their use should be reserved for applications that represent the largest climate benefits from a system-wide perspective and where other, more efficient, alternatives have been exhausted. Climate measures that help avoid emitting CO₂ in the first place should be prioritised wherever possible.
CCS means capturing CO₂ at its source, transporting it, and storing it underground. It comprises a variety of capture technologies, transport modalities and types of storage sites. Certain sectors, such as the cement and lime industries, will require CCS to address their remaining unavoidable process emissions once all other emissions-reduction measures have been exhausted.
A limited number of industrial sectors such as the chemicals industry will always require carbon inputs as feedstock. CCU can play a role in delivering this carbon and keeping it within a circular economy. Only CCU based on renewable carbon – such as biomass – has a role to play in a climate-neutral world. CCU based on CO₂ from fossil sources in many cases simply delays emissions without reducing them and creates long-term lock-ins into fossil fuel infrastructure.
CDR in industry refers to the application of CCS technologies to non-fossil CO₂, either by capturing CO₂ from biogenic sources (BECCS) or directly from the atmosphere (DACCS). Decarbonisation scenarios show that carbon removals will be needed to compensate for emissions that cannot be avoided in sectors such as agriculture as well as in the longer term to reach net-negative emissions. However, the limited availability of sustainable biomass for BECCS and the high energy demand of DACCS mean that CDR should not be a substitute for emissions reduction.
Focusing on Germany and Europe, Agora Industry’s work on carbon management aims to provide clarity on the role such approaches and technologies will play in the transformation towards climate neutrality, including the build-out of a fit-for-purpose CO₂ transport and storage infrastructure.
Project Manager Industry