Why do we need carbon removal?
One of the key goals of the Paris Agreement is to achieve a balance in the second half of the century between human-caused greenhouse gas emissions by source and greenhouse gas emissions removals by sinks.
To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, emissions reductions must be ramped up – this is the clear number one priority. However, it is simply not enough to limit CO2 emissions; we must also go CO2 negative by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and storing it. The world needs to reach net-negative emissions, which means that we must remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we are releasing. This will involve methods – both natural and technological – that remove CO2 from the atmosphere or flue gases and sequester it for long periods.
Carbon removal is an essential part of the lowest-cost path towards meeting the Paris Agreement goals. Fortum is working to make the technology and systems needed to do this efficient and profitable.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS)
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is one of the most important methods to reduce CO2 emissions. CCS is the process of capturing CO2 and then storing it so that the carbon doesn't end up in the atmosphere.
Fortum is at the forefront of the utilisation of carbon capture technology. We are working hard to implement carbon capture at Fortum Oslo Varme's waste-to-energy plant in Oslo. Furthermore, through the Northern Lights partnership with Shell, Total and Equinor, we aim to safely store the CO2 under the seabed in the North Sea.
Bio-CCS creates negative emissions
One of the unique qualities of the project in Oslo is the ability to capture and store carbon from biological sources, like biomass or waste sludge. This provides a double climate benefit: Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels are prevented and the CO2 contained in the biological material is captured, thereby removing CO2 from the atmosphere. We call this Bio-CCS. It is the most cost-efficient way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirms that CCS in general and the "CO2 negative emissions" enabled by Bio-CCS in particular are crucial for reaching the 1.5-degree target set out in the Paris Agreement. In fact, most climate scenarios show that we’ll need to remove billions of metric tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, while also ramping up emissions reductions.
The pioneering work on CCS done in the Nordics also lets the Nordic countries take a leading role in what will develop into a global industry. We can provide the unique expertise the world will need for the carbon capture from industries, which will remain crucial in the future. Our waste treatment and heat production facilities are examples of such industries. The world will still need waste treatment and heat production in the future, and we must find ways of making these industries not only carbon neutral, but also carbon negative.
Legislative framework for carbon removal needed
Technological carbon removal solutions are not sufficiently recognised in the current EU climate legislation. In order to make carbon removal and negative emissions technologies commercially viable and to upscale them, they should be integrated into legislation and incentivised, preferably by market-based tools like carbon pricing. The revision of the key climate legislation (emissions trading directive, effort sharing regulation and LULUCF regulation) in 2021 in the framework of the European Green Deal is a key opportunity to establish a legislative framework for carbon removal. The development of a regulatory framework for the certification of carbon removals in connection with the Circular Economy Action Plan is also an important step forward.