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Argument: CCS can dramatically slash emissions from fossil fuels

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George Monbiot, Visiting Professor of Planning at Oxford Brookes University, wrote in his 2007 book Heat: How to Stop the Planet from Burning: "[E]ven if we continued to produce most of our electricity from burning fossil fuels, we could, at least in theory, cut carbon emissions by 80 or 85 percent. The technology that would make this possible is called 'carbon capture and storage. This means stripping the carbon out of the fuel either before or after it is burnt, and burying it in the hope that it will stay where it's put."[1]

The theoretical merit of CCS systems is the reduction of CO2 emissions by up to 90%, depending on plant type. Generally, environmental effects from use of CCS arise during power production, CO2 capture, transport and storage.

John Podesta, JD, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, and Timothy E. Wirth, PhD, President of the United Nations Foundation, stated in their Aug. 10, 2009 report "Natural Gas: A Bridge Fuel for the 21st Century," available at "CCS is the most promising technique to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants... Because the potential to reduce U.S. carbon emissions is much greater in the existing fleet of power plants than in new ones, any climate policy should ensure that CCS research and deployment efforts focus attention on retrofits of existing plants with carbon capture in addition to developing and deploying new integrated gasification combined-cycle power plants."

The International Energy Agency (IEA), an intergovernmental energy policy organization, stated in its July 2009 report "Carbon Capture and Storage: Full-Scale Demonstration Progress Update," available at "The only technology available to mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from large-scale fossil fuel usage is carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS). The ETP BLUE scenario [part of the IEA report 'Energy Technology Perspectives 2008'], which assessed strategies for reducing GHG emissions by one-half in 2050, concluded that CCS will need to contribute one-fifth of the necessary emissions reductions to achieve stabilisation in the most cost-effective manner. CCS is therefore an essential part of the portfolio of technologies that is needed to achieve deep global emission reductions..."

According to the Wallula Energy Resource Center in Washington state, by gasifying coal, it is possible to capture approximately 65% of carbon dioxide embedded in it and sequester it in a solid form.[2]

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