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Cancún: break-through on CCS in Clean Development Mechanism

14 February 2011

The global climate change summit in Cancún has decided to admit CCS as an eligible technology for CDM. This year will bring further clarity on the conditions.

Five years after Japan proposed two CCS projects for the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), the global climate change summit in Cancún, last December, has decided to admit CCS as an eligible technology for CDM. This year will bring further clarity on the conditions.

CDM is the carbon trading mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol that gives an incentive to greenhouse gas abatement projects in developing countries. The Special Report on CCS of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (also in 2005) disposed many countries positively towards including CCS in CDM. However, countries started asking questions about continuity, environmental impacts and lower energy efficiencies and the responsible bodies rejected the methodologies of both Japanese projects.

At every climate change conference since, CCS has been on the agenda. All developed countries as well as fossil fuel-exporting countries were very much in favour, while Brazil, India and several small island states were opposed. Year after year no agreement could be reached, to the frustration of countries that were interested in developing CCS, e.g. of pure CO2 from gas processing plants.

Cancun changed a lot. The early technical negotiations brought two options on the table. In the end, the option that CCS would be eligible as a CDM activity, unless certain condition would not be met (including a process to address those conditions) was agreed.

This provides a new perspective for further work on the topic, both for the international research community and the CATO-2 project. This year, business, researchers and CDM experts are supposed to collaborate to provide answers about the conditions. In parallel, developing countries could start figuring out what capacity they need to develop to host CCS projects, given current CDM credit prices of around €10 per tonne CO2.

(With thanks to Heleen de Coninck)

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14 February 2011

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