Climate Change | Pembina Institute

Carbon Capture and Storage

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) could capture an estimated 15 to 55 per cent of the world's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

smoke stacksCarbon capture and storage is gaining attention in Canada and internationally as a means of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from industrial sources such as coal-fired power plants and oilsands operations. CCS refers to the capture of CO2 emissions from industrial sources and the long-term storage of these emissions in stable underground reservoirs. CCS helps combat global climate change by reducing the amount of GHGs released into the atmosphere.

Canadian federal and provincial governments have high expectations for CCS technology as a tool to reduce GHG emissions. However, key questions about CCS have yet to be resolved.

The Pembina Institute views CCS as one of a number of potentially effective technologies for reducing GHG emissions on the scale required to combat catastrophic climate change. It is also critical that CCS is seen as part of a portfolio of solutions and that we ensure adequate attention is also paid to more sustainable, low-impact solutions such as ramping up on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The urgent need to deal with Canada’s rising emissions (up 26 per cent since 1990) compels consideration of CCS, but it is not without environmental risks and barriers to implementation.

Overview of Resources

Pembina Perspectives on Carbon Capture and Storage

CCS fact sheetCCS Fact Sheet
January 2009 — An overview of CCS technology and issues under discussion

Perspective on Carbon Capture and Storage
February 2009 — An overview of the Pembina Institute's perspective on CCS

Carbon Capture and Storage: A Canadian Primer
November 2005 — A review of CCS technologies, risks and potential role in reducing GHG emissions

CCS: What Do a Coal Guy, an Environmentalist and a Politician Think?

Seven people representing different sectors voice their perspectives on the potential of CCS.

Dr. David Keith, University of Calgary, argues that getting serious on climate change requires solutions that take a "really big bite out of emissions". He believes CCS is one such technology.

"We have to provide energy services — like illumination and mobility — with less carbon emissions."


Preston Manning, former leader of the Reform Party, is a big advocate of "full cost accounting" (incorporating the full environmental costs into market prices) as a strategy to reduce GHG emissions. He contends that young people in particular are becoming aware of the environmental consequences of fossil fuel development.

"We have to figure out what [the environmental] costs are and we have to get the cost into the price of the good."


John Drexhage, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), has over 20 years of experience in climate change issues. John considers CCS as a necessary tool for reducing global warming emissions, but cautions "it's not the be-all-and-end-all either."

"We have to look at all of the possibilities including energy efficiency, renewables and other solutions both in Canada and in developing countries."


Graham Saul, Climate Action Network Canada (a coalition of Canada's largest organizations working on climate change), sees CCS as an interim solution to bring down GHG emissions in the short term.

"In the long term, we need a clean energy revolution in Canada and around the world."


Stephen Kaufman, Suncor Energy, advocates for using CCS as one of a number of tools to reduce emissions. Stephen advocates for using CCS as one of a number of tools to reduce emissions.

"[CCS] could end up being 20 or 30 per cent of the overall reductions that the world has to achieve..."


Stephen Hazell, Sierra Club of Canada, considers continued oilsands development to be a detriment to any goals of reducing CO2 emissions.

"If we can't get carbon capture and storage to work right, then we really have to think about phasing out the tar sands industry in pretty short order."


Doug MacLeod, EPCOR, is a strong advocate for CCS, which is a critical component of EPCOR's carbon management strategy. He believes that without CCS, we will be unable to continue to produce base load electricity using coal.

"Whether carbon capture and storage is a transition or an end state really depends on the time frame you are looking at."

Dr. David Keith on CCS: If Talk Were Action

The University of Calgary's David Keith, Director of the ISEEE Energy and Environmental Systems Group and internationally noted for his work on the interface between climate science, energy technology and public policy, delivered the keynote speech at the Carbon Capture and Storage Thought Leader Forum in Calgary, Alberta November 10, 2008.

Carbon Capture and Storage Thought Leader Forum

Ed Whittingham and Preston ManningOn November 10, 2008, the Pembina Institute and the University of Calgary's Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment, and Economy (ISEEE) hosted a national, collaborative Carbon Capture and Storage Thought Leader Forum in Calgary, Alberta. The forum brought together the public and private sectors, academics, and experts from environmental non-governmental organizations to discuss and debate critical CCS policy questions.

Individual Conference Papers

Slide show presentations

Forum Proceedings

Forum proceedings are now available.

Forum Event Greening Report

Download the event greening report

More Information on CCS

Carbon Capture and Storage: A Canadian Primer (2005)

This Pembina Institute publication examines whether carbon capture and geological storage is an arrow in the quiver or a silver bullet to combat climate change. It reviews technologies to capture, transport and store CO2, along with the risks of CCS are examined and its role in reducing GHG emissions.

IPCC Special Report on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report describes new and emerging technologies for capturing and storing CO2. Costs, barriers, risks and other issues are also examined in detail. The report assesses the most up-to-date literature available in the world's scientific and technical journals. It was written by some 100 experts and widely reviewed by experts and governments.

Canada's Fossil Energy Future (January 2008)

The report of the ecoENERGY CCS Task Force, a Canada-Alberta group that examined the opportunities for large-scale application of CCS technology in Canada.

Accelerating Carbon Capture and Storage in Alberta, Final Report (March 2009)

Report by the Alberta Carbon Capture and Storage Development Council, which is developing Alberta's plan to move ahead with CCS projects in the province.

Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage: A Canadian Clean Energy Opportunity

Report by the Integrated CO2 Network (ICO2N) CCS initiative, representing a cross-section of Canadian industry.

Carbon Capture and Storage: The Need for a Longer-Term Collective Approach to Implementation

A report by Climate Change Central that looks at the collective challenges of implementing CCS in Canada.

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