Decarbonizing our global economy is critical to staying below the 1.5C threshold of warming, but so is reducing the amount of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere. By 2050, we will need to remove about ten billion tonnes of CO2 every year. Currently, we are capturing and sequestering about 40 million tonnes a year - about 0.4% of what’s needed by 2050, and less than 0.1% of the CO2-equivalent of global energy and industry emissions.
For comparison, renewable electricity has ramped up to 12% of global electricity consumption. Electric vehicles now make up nearly 9% of all new car sales. These climate-friendly tech sectors are growing quickly, but carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) is not keeping pace.
Environmental economist Dr. Sheila Olmstead, professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, set out to discover what is holding back rapid growth in CCUS, and how to overcome those obstacles. She sat down with Climate Now to share what she is learning.