University of Oxford: Affordable policy which could stop fossil fuels causing global warming – report

A new study published today in the international energy journal Joule, explores the economic implications of imposing a carbon takeback obligation on the global fossil fuel industry, and shows it provides an affordable and low-risk route to net-zero emissions, particularly if complemented by conventional measures to reduce near-term fossil fuel demand.

According to the study, ‘In the absence of immediate, rapid, and unprecedented reduction in global demand for carbon-intensive energy and products, the capture and permanent storage of billions of tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually will be needed before mid-century to meet Paris Agreement goals…

‘When combined with measures to reduce CO2 production in the near-term, a CTBO could deliver a viable pathway to achieving net-zero emissions consistent with 1.5°C by mid-century.’

We show that the cost…of a Carbon Takeback Obligation, even if entirely passed on to fossil fuel consumers, is no higher than the cost of mitigation

Stuart Jenkins

Oxford researcher Stuart Jenkins, lead author of the study, explains, ‘Despite the perceived high cost of carbon dioxide capture and storage, we show that the cost to the world economy of a Carbon Takeback Obligation, even if entirely passed on to fossil fuel consumers, is no higher than the cost of mitigation in conventional scenarios meeting similar goals driven by a global carbon price.’

Professor Stuart Haszeldine of the University of Edinburgh, a report co-author, says, ‘Investment in carbon dioxide capture and geological storage has, to date, been dependent on state subsidies, and consistently far below what is required to meet Paris climate goals. Carbon Takeback provides the fossil fuel industry itself with the strongest possible incentive to make amends: survival.’

Carbon Takeback has consistently been dismissed by the climate policy establishment as much more expensive and risky than driving down consumption…But these options are hardly risk-free

Professor Myles Allen

Oxford’s Professor Myles Allen, another co-author, adds, ‘Carbon Takeback has consistently been dismissed by the climate policy establishment as much more expensive and risky than the alternative of driving down consumption by changing consumer behaviour or through a global carbon price. But these options are hardly risk-free. Getting to net-zero means carbon prices rising to $1000 per tonne of CO2 by 2050: 100 times the hike that brought out the gilets jaunes.’

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