The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) is coming in a few short weeks. The International CCS Knowledge Centre will be there again this year. And right now, it is a good time to reflect on what has been achieved in the realm of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCS/CCUS), and consider the next collaborative efforts we need to expand CCS technology to help meet international climate action plans.

A stocktake year

COP28 will see the conclusion of the first two-year stocktake process on the implementation of the Paris Agreement, which was the result of COP26. Coming out of COP28 will be an assessment of the world’s collective progress towards meeting the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

I looked up the official slogan for the host city – it is “Definitely Dubai”. My predictions on the global stocktake is that we are definitely not where we want to be globally, but that we definitely will see more ambition coming from stepping back and looking at how far we have to go. And this will definitely mean capturing carbon will be a large part of the mix.

I’m expecting further acknowledgement that CCS is a proven technology that will be an important part of the work ahead to harness emissions and meet the climate targets of the Paris Agreement. Previously, cost was a major barrier to CCS deployment, but it is the cost of inaction that has now made CCS a critical part of the pathway to net-zero emissions for many countries. According to the latest data from the Global CCS Institute, there are now 41 commercial CCS facilities operating, with another 26 under construction and 325 projects in various stages of development. This is impressive growth, with the pipeline of new projects growing by 198 over the past year!

Canada has been an early leader in the development of large-scale CCS, accounting for approximately 15 per cent of the world’s current CCS capacity while it is responsible for less than two per cent of global GHG emissions. The pioneering work on SaskPower’s Boundary Dam Unit 3 (BD3) CCS facility, Shell’s Quest project, the Alberta Carbon Trunk Line and more than 20 years of safe CO2 utilization and storage in the Weyburn-Midale oil field are examples of what’s possible through the focused and collaborative efforts of industry, governments, financial institutions and other partners. They are also providing knowledge and lessons learned that are proving invaluable for lowering the risk and improving the outcomes of new projects being planned around the world.

However, for meeting the ambitious emissions reductions required between 2030 and 2050 we are squeezed on time, as the next wave of CCS projects across heavy-emitting industries need to get CO2 in the ground and not in the air.

In Canada alone, the federal emissions reduction plan envisions a tripling of the country’s CCS capacity by 2030. In one of the many CCS-related events taking place at COP28, I am very much looking forward to hosting a discussion with the Premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change from Newfoundland and Labrador on the opportunities and challenges in bringing CCS projects to life across the country. Central to this conversation will be the importance of knowledge sharing, and how initiatives such as the CCS knowledge sharing hub we are developing will benefit national and global efforts to rapidly deploy CCS.

Spotlight on CCS at COP28

There are more CCS topics than ever on the agenda at COP28, and the International CCS Knowledge Centre is pleased to join the Carbon Capture and Storage Association (CCSA), the Gulf Coast Carbon Center and the International Energy Agency’s GHG (IEAGHG) program as the CCS delegation to COP28. We will be exploring the role of CCS as one of the essential tools for addressing climate change.

The focus of this year’s official side-event on CCS will be on the opportunity for CCS to propel decarbonisation in the cement manufacturing sector in both developed and developing economies. As one of the largest heavy industries, cement manufacturing is responsible for approximately seven per cent of global CO2 emissions. With global demand for cement expected to grow by 12 to 23 per cent by 2050, there’s no question CCS provides a promising and feasible solution to help the industry realize its goal of producing carbon neutral cement by 2050.

The Knowledge Centre will also be present at the Global Cement and Concrete Association’s pavilion at COP28, where we will share highlights from a new guidebook for developing CCS projects in the cement sector that we produced for GCCA members, and discuss the feasibility study we produced for Heidelberg Materials (formerly Lehigh Cement) to develop the world’s first CCS facility on a cement plant in Edmonton, Alberta.

Keep an eye on the COP28 YouTube channel, where some of these events will be broadcast live, and visit the Knowledge Centre’s COP28 webpage for more information about activities we are involved with. 

Carbon Management Challenge

COP28 will also provide a platform to build momentum for the Carbon Management Challenge (CMC). This is something I’m really looking forward to.

Announced at the Major Economies Forum in April, the CMC aims to accelerate the scale up of carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) and carbon dioxide removal. This is the first time these areas have been recognized as necessary complements to energy efficiency and the aggressive deployment of other zero-carbon technologies. This pledge with a plan will challenge global leaders to seize the opportunity to accelerate the deployment of carbon removal, use and CCS technologies in their jurisdictions.

The CMC is co-sponsored by Canada, the UK and the US. Governments participating in the CMC include Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Egypt, the European Commission, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. 

Major global forums like COP are vital gatherings to share experiences, connect ideas and resources, and propel progress. It’s through these collaborations that we’ll ultimately be able to reduce risk, lower costs and further scale CCS as a viable option globally.

I definitely look forward to catching up with colleagues and making many new connections in Dubai. Please reach out if you want to connect there in person. Safe travels everyone!