- Isn't CCS just a way of keeping old, harmful power plants artificially alive?
- Absolutely not. Despite all the effort and subsidies being invested into renewable energies, non-renewable sources will continue to dominate the world's energy mix for many decades to come. Which is why it is essential that we continue to evolve current technologies – such as those used in coal-fired power plants – and tap existing fossil resources in as environmentally sound a manner as possible. Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is an important technology in the move to improve the carbon balance of fossil fuel combustion in the near future. We desperately need technologies such as CCS as we transition to a low-carbon economy. Just as we need sponsored research projects that test and demonstrate CCS capabilities to speed industrial-scale deployment.
- Given the current economic situation, how are we to fund the costs for CCS and climate protection in general?
- We must not let the current focus on the need to rebound from the effects of the economic and financial crises and bring prosperity back to our economies detract from the importance of sustainable energy sourcing and lowering emissions of harmful gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2). That is the only way we can leave an intact environment so that future generations can enjoy a high standard of living.
- Can we even put a price tag on the financial consequences of climate change?
- No. Nobody can predict the consequences of climate change with complete certainty at this point. But we do know enough to understand the risks. The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), for example, puts a EUR 137 billion price tag on damage resulting from climate change by 2050 in Germany alone if corrective measures are not implemented in time. Viewed long-term, the mitigation of climate change is a growth strategy. The objective is to position climate-friendly technologies and eco-innovations as mega-trends and drive their market success, thus turning the costs involved in climate protection into wise investments securing our future.
- The economic viability of CCS technologies hinges largely on political support through schemes such as emissions trading. What would be the ideal political framework?
- A global position on CCS is an absolute must. If the EU continues to operate solo in the fight against emissions, European competitiveness will ultimately suffer. Pending an international climate protection agreement, we must therefore ensure that emissions trading does not compromise the competitiveness of European industry. To achieve this, the EU Commission has defined exposed sectors that would be disadvantaged through the mandatory purchase of emissions certificates or higher electricity rates. Many energy-intensive chemical plants have been understandably classified as exposed. Initially, they are to be allocated most of the certificates they require free of charge. This exemption will be waived once a global agreement on carbon reduction has been reached. However, eliminating exemption raises the risk of carbon leakage and a job drain in favour of Eastern European countries with more relaxed legislation. Many of the details have yet to be worked out. The method applied by the EU Commission to define exposed sectors is disputed, for example, and concrete benchmarks for the free allocation of certifications will not be defined until the end of 2010. At the same time, industry needs clear signals so it can plan accordingly.
- Climate protection is seen as a costly business. How can we achieve a breakthrough?
The success of climate protection depends on our ability to factor the economic and social ramifications into new innovations from the ground up – in other words, from the development phase onwards. All decisions must balance acceptance by the general public with the need for financial success. We should meet the climate change cost challenge head on with innovative technologies – with products and processes that make renewable energies cost-effective, conserve natural resources and help reduce or even eliminate harmful emissions and waste.
That is the only way to harmonise ecological success with business success. Roland Berger Strategy Consultants estimate that the global market for environmental technology is already worth more than EUR 1 trillion. This could be as much as EUR 2.5 trillion by 2020. Particularly dynamic growth is projected for climate protection technologies, estimated to grow to EUR 1.7 trillion worldwide by 2020.