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CCS and CDR UPSC NOTE

 What are CCS and CDR?

  • CCS (carbon capture and storage) refers to technologies that can capture carbon dioxide (CO₂) at a source of emissions before it is released into the atmosphere. 

  • These sources include the fossil fuel industry and industrial processes like steel and cement production.

  • CDR (carbon-dioxide removal) takes the forms of both natural means like afforestation or reforestation and technologies like direct air capture, where machines mimic trees by absorbing CO₂ from their surroundings and storing it underground.

  • There are also more complex CDR technologies like enhanced rock weathering, where rocks are broken down chemically; the resulting rock particles can remove CO₂ from the atmosphere.

  • Other technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) capture and store CO₂ from burning biomass, like wood.

  • At COP28, the term “unabated fossil fuels” has come to mean the combustion of these fuels without using CCS technologies to capture their emissions

  • Draft decision texts point to a need to “phase out” such unabated fossil fuels. 

  • On the other hand, removal technologies have been referenced in the context of the need to scale zero and low-emission technologies and support forest restoration as a means to promote emission removals.

How well does CCS & CDR work 

  • The IPCC AR6 report states CDR ought to be used “to counterbalance hard-to-abate residual emissions.

  •  The reason: “available CDR is to be used strategically to compensate hard to abate residual emissions, not to maintain a high level of fossil fuel use.

  • For CCS, and other AR6 authors showed in a recent paper that the term “abated fossil fuels” should be used only in the context of highly effective CCS applications.

  • With a capture rate of 90-95% or more, the captured emissions being stored permanently, and methane emissions leakage from upstream oil and gas production processes being kept under 0.5% (approaching 0.2%).

  • But in the real world, natural CDR has been tacked on to existing emissions

  • For example, the 2023 ‘Land Gap’ report estimated that various governments have proposed to remove CO₂ using around one billion hectares of land

  • Some pledges over-rely on land-based CDR to offset fossil fuel emissions. 

  • This raises serious concerns that these countries are shifting their mitigation burden away from reducing fossil fuel use.”

  • CDR methods like afforestation, reforestation, BECCS, and direct air capture are constrained by their need for land.

  • Land also invokes equity concerns. 

  • Land in the Global South is often considered to be ‘viable’ and/or ‘cost-effective’ for planting trees and deploying other large-scale CDR methods. 

  • CDR projects can adversely affect land rights of indigenous communities and biodiversity and compete with other forms of land-use, like agriculture that is crucial for ensuring food security.

  • This is of particular concern vis-à-vis technological CDR at scale

Chinstrap penguins

  • It is native to the Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions, particularly the South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. 

  • The population of chinstrap penguins is estimated at about 12 million pairs, making it the most abundant penguin species. 

  • Chinstrap penguins are easily distinguished by their distinctive black head markings

  • They have a white face with a narrow black band extending from one side of the head to the other under the chin. 

  • Their upper body is black, while their underbody is white. They have orange beaks and red feet.


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