“Saving the Planet by Capturing Carbon:” The Solution
Hosted by Larry Smarr, Director, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), UC San Diego and Irvine
LS: Arctic ice is melting more quickly than we thought.
For the last 100,000 years, CO2 has stayed within a very narrow band. As of 2008, it’s in a fairly vertical progression.
We need to reduce CO2 by 75% by 2050 to maintain global temp stability. Yet, projected emissions will double in that time period if we maintain the status quo.
In 2010, the CTO challenge worked on scaling up renewables. This year, we’re working on carbon sequestration to execute in combination with last year’s solution.
Greenhouse gas emissions are about 75% CO2. Unlike other GHGs, CO2 stays in the atmosphere for thousands of years. It does not dissipate.
Petroleum and coal are the chief sources of GHGs.
Ty Carlson: “Sleep will be in short order and passion will rule the day.” on CTO challenge.
Americans generate the equivalent of the lifecycle of 2.4 trees in carbon.
To compensate for global carbon production, we’d need to reforest the US 7X every year.
Cost of carbon capturing: Using existing technologies, you would need an additional 40% increase in tax. Using newer technologies, it’s only 10%
Storage techniques and carbon capture: alternatives are coming, but they aren’t here today.
Reuse: enhanced oil recovery, urea yield boosting, enhanced geothermal systems, polymer processing, algae production, mineralization.
Due to the size and scope, we’ll need to develop strong leadership.
- DOE investment $143mm/year: same as annual power plant lobbying
- Create a modern, post-industrial economy, low carbon, job creation–repurpose workers to low carbon
- no such thing as clean coal, but low carbon does esxist.
- engage global community
China and US dominate global emissions, followed by india, Japan and the Russian federation. We’ll need to look to the example of the Apollo-Soyuz space project to mobilize and unite nations that have traditionally been at odds through technology and innovation.
This month Shanghai hit an air quality index of 500, maxing out scale.
We need to create partnerships to solve the problem
- New meaning to international trade (we all need clean air and water)
- jointly develop models/solutions
- IP consortium of participating countries (waste energy, water treatment, etc in China, Abu Dhabi, etc)
- Us and China are the places to scale
- China may be a quicker adopter of change than the US
- China was net coal exporter, now importer
- power companies stopped producing electricity, refuse to operate at a loss
- People burning lower-grade coal will create more carbon dioxide, pollutants
- Impact to the overall economic growth
- China builing 3 LNG landing facilities
- Need to be sure that the plan is both mutually and individually beneficial
China and the US are both shutting down their most polluting coal facilities
Convert inefficient coal power plants to efficient natural gas to lower CO2
What to do?
- develop low carbon economy by starting a US pilot
- create public-private partnershipt to develop CCS technologies
- Tax current carbon-based energy creation (need to start paying true cost of electricity generation)
- Incent low-carbon, no carbon energy
- Review/align energy incentives/subsidies
- Drive innovation, not lobbying
- Need fundamental and applied research
- Design a modeling solution
- Generate creative solutions
CCS: Engaging the Industry
- leverage existing infrastructure
Enable People to Make Educated Choices
- Create baseline awareness, clear problem statement that resonates with the global economy
- develop communication tools and platforms: standard measurement system, global sensors, cost basis
- Educate on human cost: health implications, worker productivity
- Broad coverage of credible, factual, common understanding: BBC, Frontline story
- X-prize competition — incentives based on reduction of CO2 emissions, removal from the environment
- Commit to Low Carbon economy: move to new power plants, update building codes, provide incentives, global shipping laws
- Create a common priority for subsidies
- Create Low Carbon-LEED; LEED-right idea, perhaps wrong incentives
- Create incremental carbon tax, w. 10-yr rolling rates, subsidies to incent change
- World agreement: non members pay carbon import tax,
- Raise awareness of the true cost of carbon: labeling on things we consume, individual carbon production numbers on your energy bill, citizen censors like color-changing CO2 sensors on t-shirts
- Time is critical
- Alternative energy and solutions strategy
- Cost and scale issues must be understood and communicated
- Global education, consensus on issues
- China is natural partner
- Leverage existing infrastructure and expertise
Gregory McRae: “I think it’s been one of the best conferences I’ve ever attended.”
Flood of good ideas. Generally, climate change conferences make you feel depressed.
“This is one of the first times I’ve actually felt tremendously energized.”
Liked: global nature of presentation, many solutions, but solutions that scale, education — helping people to make informed choices. Naive belief that if you give people the info to make decisions, they’ll generally make the right ones. Collaboration- there are real precedents for collaboration at scale.
Recommendations: Bring change-makers together at FiRe, without handlers.
Eric Openshaw: Crowd-sourcing aspect was fantastic.
John Delaney: 1/2 oxygen came out of ocean and it absorbs 1/2 of CO2
David Brin: This is exactly what we should do and cannot because of culture war, but it can spur a certain amount of change now.