Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of a limited number of ways to reach the Paris Agreement’s objective of net-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in the second half of this century. The world’s remaining carbon budget of 900 gigatonnes (Gt) will become depleted around 2040 at the current emissions rate of some 40 Gt per year. Deploying CCS at scale provides an economically feasible way of achieving the net-zero objective. A recent KAPSARC publication, “A Mechanism for CCS in the Post-Paris Era,” developed the concept of a new CCS-specific technology mechanism under Article 6 of the Agreement that could overcome historical barriers to the deployment of CCS. This would take the form of a new tradable asset or carbon storage unit (CSU) representing one verified tonne of CO2 stored or sequestered geologically with no intrinsic emissions reduction value.
- The CSU approach reframes the climate challenge as one of managing carbon stocks as opposed to annualized carbon emissions flows. It thereby emphasizes climate action on the supply side.
- A CSU would represent a non-greenhouse gas metric under the Paris Agreement. It would be tradable as an internationally transferred mitigation outcome under Article 6.
- Fossil fuels, such as crude oil, could be linked or ‘tagged’ to CSUs that would essentially establish a decarbonized fossil fuel product and help contribute to net-zero emissions.
Demand for CSUs could be incorporated into existing mechanisms and policies that aim to decarbonize oil. The implementation could be pilot-based, transitional and gradually scaled up.
- The ongoing Article 6 negotiations could play a facilitative role in CSU implementation by including multiple metrics based on countries’ national preferences, reflecting the Agreement’s bottom-up spirit of cooperation.