It’s Time to End the Carbon Capture of Climate Policy
In an open letter sent today to leaders in the United States and Canada, more than 500 US, Canadian, and international organizations called on policymakers in both countries to reject carbon capture and storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) as dangerous distractions and to end the “carbon capture of climate policy.” To raise public awareness of the growing threat of CCS at a time when lawmakers in both countries are proposing massive subsidies for a sweeping buildout of carbon capture technologies, key messages and demands from the letter were published as full-page advertisements in the Washington Post and Ottawa’s Hill Times newspapers.
The organizations’ message is clear: carbon capture is unnecessary, ineffective, exceptionally risky, and at odds with the needed energy transition and the principles of environmental justice. “Carbon capture and storage is not a climate solution,” the groups say. “It is a dangerous distraction driven by the same big polluters who created the climate emergency.”
“We don’t need to fix fossil fuels; we need to ditch them,” signatories said. Sinking public funds into CCS technology, they warn, only prolongs reliance on fossil fuels and delays their replacement with cheaper renewable energy alternatives. Worse still, captured carbon drives more oil production through enhanced oil recovery, contributing to the very climate crisis the technology purports to solve.
“CCS just makes dirty energy more expensive and energy-intensive,” the groups assert, and “more dangerous for frontline communities.” Echoing the conclusion of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council that CCS will not benefit communities, the groups warn that carbon capture presents significant environmental, health, and safety risks, particularly for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities targeted for CO2 pipelines and storage.
The groups call on policymakers to: “Stop subsidizing CCS. Stop permitting CCS. Stop using CCS to justify climate inaction.”
“Instead of bankrolling CCS,” the letter declares, “public funds should be boosting sustainable, job-creating solutions to the climate crisis, for fossil-dependent workers and communities: phasing out oil, gas, and coal; investing in energy efficiency and non-combustion renewable energy sources; and protecting forests and other ecosystems that naturally capture and store carbon.”
Organizations among the more than 500 signatories include Waterkeeper Alliance, 350.org, Center for International Environmental Law, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Justice Alliance, Environmental Defence Canada, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth US, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, Indigenous Environmental Network, Oil Change International, and Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and hundreds more representing grassroots, environmental health, climate activists, Indigenous Peoples, labor groups, faith communities, and businesses from across Canada and the United States.
Quotes from signatories about the issue.
- Center for International Environmental Law, Confronting the Myth of Carbon-Free Fossil Fuels: Why Carbon Capture is Not a Climate Solution
- Oil Change International, Carbon Capture: Five Decades of False Hope, Hype, and Hot Air
- Friends of the Earth, A Climate Justice Users Guide to the Manchin Energy Infrastructure Bill
- Multiple, Net Zero Producers Forum: A Catalyst for Climate Action or Just Another Delaying Tactic
- Indigenous Environmental Network and others, Hoodwinked in the Hothouse: Resist False Solutions to Climate Change
- Global Witness, The World Cannot Meet Climate Targets by Relying on Carbon Capture and Storage
- Center for International Environmental Law, Red, Black & Green New Deal Initiative at the Movement for Black Lives, and The Alliance for Affordable Energy Carbon Capture and Storage: An Expensive and Dangerous Proposition for Louisiana
- White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, Final Recommendations: Justice40 Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool & Executive Order 12898 Revisions