Pembina Institute

Carbon Capture Task Force: Wrong Approach to a Potential Solution

Published Feb. 1, 2008.

The Pembina Institute is expressing concerns about the report released yesterday by the ecoENERGY Carbon Capture and Storage Task Force. The Task Force, set up by the governments of Canada and Alberta, concluded that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can play an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from heavily polluting sectors like the oilsands, and called for over $2 billion in government subsidies to get CCS up and running in Canada.

"Carbon capture and storage can and should be deployed as one mechanism for significantly reducing emissions from the tar sands, which are Canada's fastest growing source of greenhouse gas pollution," said Marlo Raynolds, Executive Director of the Pembina Institute. "But a patchwork of complicated subsidies for reducing pollution is the wrong approach. What's needed instead is strong regulation and an adequate carbon price."

The Pembina Institute has consistently recommended that the Government of Canada demonstrate leadership by putting a high enough price on greenhouse gas pollution - either through a tax or a cap-and-trade system based on absolute reductions - to create a strong incentive for industry to invest in technologies to reduce emissions, such as CCS or renewable energy.

In addition, Pembina has called on the Government of Alberta make the capture and permanent storage of all major point sources of carbon dioxide a condition of the approval of any new major industrial facility.

"To show real leadership on CCS, governments must tell industry that if you pollute, you pay to clean it up," said Dan Woynillowicz, Senior Policy Analyst. "It is neither necessary nor appropriate for governments to accept a recommendation that every Canadian should pay over $70 for industry to cut its own pollution. The only way taxpayer dollars should be invested in CCS is in an arrangement where taxpayers get a return on their investment by retaining ownership of the infrastructure."

The Task Force also recommended that governments and regulators should immediately lay out the terms for transferring liability for CCS from industry to government, so that "industry will not face long-term liability obligations associated with CCS".

“Although the risks of carbon capture and storage are expected to be low, companies need to first show the storage is safe and then pay into a public fund to manage long term risk,” said Raynolds.

The Pembina Institute sees CCS as one option among others to make deep reductions to Canada's greenhouse gas emissions, but believes that its deployment in Canada should be conditional on a massive scale up of energy efficiency and low-impact renewable energy.

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Download The Pembina Institute's Perspective on Carbon Dioxide Capture and Storage.

For more information, contact:
Marlo Raynolds
Cell: 403-607-9427

Dan Woynillowicz
Phone: 403-538-7782

Clare Demerse (French)
Cell: 613-762-7449

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