News overview

Climate summit in Cancún paves the way for carbon capture and storage in developing countries

Report by Rolf de Vos


After the disappointing outcome of the Copenhagen Climate Summit last year, expectations for the follow-up summit in Mexican Cancún were quite low. However, two weeks ago the UN negotiations got up and running again. Regarding carbon capture and storage (CCS), Cancún even led to a breakthrough regarding the position of CCS within the CDM financing mechanism for projects in the developing countries.


The major success of Cancún was the confirmation of the Copenhagen Accord of December 2009 in official UN documents. The Kyoto Protocol, of which the first commitment period ends in 2012, will continue. The ambition level is limiting the global average temperature increase to 2°C above preindustrial level. Meanwhile, it was acknowledged that the individual emission reduction proposals by all countries are not sufficient to meet this target.

On several details of international climate policies, such as deforestation, financing, technology transfer and carbon markets, agreements were confirmed. However, in the years ahead the Cancún intentions still have to be transposed into real actions, or even a new global agreement. Next year South-African Durban will host the next summit, which is expected to legally finalise some of the agreements.


Carbon capture and storage

On one detail, the negotiations broke up a five year stall in negotiations about the eligibility of CCS for CDM. CDM is one of the Kyoto flexible mechanisms. Key in this mechanism are the official emission reduction credits (CERs) that projects in developing countries can get for their project. By selling these CERs on the market, project developers get extra finance.

Some years ago, two project developers already applied for CERs from CCS projects in developing countries. The CDM Executive Board did not award these applications. In Cancún, a preliminary decision has been agreed on the eligibility of CCS for CDM.


According to Tim Dixon of the IEA Greenhouse Gas Programme (IEAGHG) in UK, in the coming year all detailed conditions still have to be resolved. "But a final regulation is expected by the end of 2011. In that case, the first CCS applications could already be submitted by 2012. Projects could for instance regard storage of CO2 from natural gas production fields or in industry. In these cases, the added value of CERs could make a difference."


CATO in Cancún

Although CATO-2 did not have any direct input, some CATO researchers contributed substantially to the discussions. Dixon: "Especially the ‘negative emissions' that can be attributed to CCS and biomass was a decisive element in the discussions. The Mexican presidency could make use of that argument in pushing towards a final decision." Joris Koornneef of Ecofys had a presentation about this issue during Cancún meetings.

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20 December 2010

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