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IEA Greenhouse Gas R&D Programme

Regulation or beyond. What should be the target?

In his keynote speech, "Too late for 2°C?", Thomas Stocker, eminent environmental scientist from the University of Bern, made the very clear case for urgent action if the most damaging effects of climate change were to be averted. The IEA projects that we must aim for power sector emissions of less than 40 gCO2/kWh by 2050 if we are to have a reasonable chance of meeting this target. Yet, from what we have heard at the conference, government targets and the designs of project developers were consistently an order of magnitude higher. Is this a sign that we were destined to fall short or is it simply part of the journey?

While Boundary Dam's achieves around 130 g/kWh with a CO2 capture rate of up to 90%, Kemper County is targeting around 65% capture. Actually, it is not unusual for project designers to target 60+% for CO2 capture. Consistent with a lower capture rate, Canada has set an emissions performance standard of 420 g/kWh. Other countries planning to set standards are considering a similar approach – to set it such that it can be met by unabated CCGT but requiring coal to fit CCS. Indeed, most countries have no CO2 emissions target. To pursue 2°C, governments and industry will need to become much more ambitious! 

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