These ships will be will be part of the world’s first full-scale carbon capture and storage value chain. ©Northern Lights.
These ships will be will be part of the world’s first full-scale carbon capture and storage value chain. ©Northern Lights.

Support for carbon removal

New report highlights “crucial” role of CO2 removal in global decarbonisation

Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR) from the atmosphere is crucial to limit global warming, in addition to rapid cuts to emissions, according to a new report headed up by the UK’s Oxford University. While the report, Carbon Dioxide Removal, is not focused on the maritime industries or even on carbon capture from emission streams, it is an important acknowledgement that CO2 can, and should, be removed from the atmosphere using technology.

February 10, 2023

More than 20 global CDR experts, led by Dr Steve Smith from Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, warn there is a large gap between how much CDR is needed to meet international temperature targets and how much governments are aiming to deliver. While the authors found a shortfall in policies to support CDR efforts, they report that research, innovation and public awareness around CDR are all rising fast


The report says that, to limit global warming to 2°C or lower, we need to accelerate emissions reductions, and we also need to increase carbon removal by restoring and enhancing ecosystems and rapidly scaling up new CDR methods.


Reflecting the numerous carbon capture technologies under development and speaking in general terms, Dr Steve Smith, Executive Director of Oxford Net Zero and CO2RE says: “Many new methods are emerging with potential. Rather than focusing on one or two options we should encourage a portfolio, so that we get to net zero quickly without over-relying on any one method.”


Meanwhile, Dr Oliver Geden of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, asserts: “CDR is not something we could do, but something we absolutely have to do to reach the Paris Agreement temperature goal.”


At present, most current CDR comes from conventional removal methods on land – primarily via planting trees and managing soils. The report says that countries will need to maintain and expand this going forward, but warns that this is nowhere near enough.

The report finds that virtually all pathways to limiting temperature rise require new CDR technologies, such as bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), biochar, enhanced rock weathering and direct air capture with carbon capture and storage (DACCS). Currently, these make up only a tiny fraction of current CDR, approximately 0.1%. But, if the CDR gap is to be closed, there needs to be rapid growth of these new CDR technologies – by a factor of 1,300 on average by 2050, according to the report.


Nevertheless, the report insists that CDR is not a silver bullet and does not lessen the need for deep cuts to emissions.


Meanwhile, in a sign that the infrastructure for large scale carbon capture is starting to be developed, Japanese shipping company “K” Line and the Northern Lights joint venture have signed bare boat and time charter contracts for two 7,500 cubic metre liquefied CO2 ships. The ships will be delivered in 2024 and will contribute to what is being described as the world’s first full-scale carbon capture and storage (CCS) value chain.


CO2 transport will be a key component to connect industrial emitters in Europe to suitable and safe CO2 storage sites such as the one operated by Northern Lights in the North Sea. Northern Lights says it offers a ship-based solution that provides flexibility to reach emitters across Europe.

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