A leaked report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests using extraction technology in order to take harmful carbon out of the atmosphere and reduce the effects of global warming.
Reuters has seen the draft document ahead of its official publication due out on Monday. The report will be the second of three published by the organisation – with the first being published in September 2013 – and will explore issues related to global warming.
The UN paper says by using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology, the equivalent of China’s greenhouse gas emissions could be removed from the atmosphere. The process involves power plants burning biomass to generate electricity with the carbon created being extracted and stored underground.
The technology enables the power plants to be carbon neutral and actively extract carbon dioxide from the natural cycle of plant growth and decay.
The paper reportedly says, “BECCS forms an essential component of the response strategy for climate change in the majority of scenarios in the literature.”
Despite the potential benefits, the report also notes the challenges the technology faces, such as financing and the fact that no BECCS plants have been built and tested to scale. Another concern is the size of the area needed to operate a BECCS plant.
Joris Koornneef, an expert at sustainable energy consultancy Ecofys, told Reuters he estimated that 350m hectares – an area the larger than India – would be needed to produce biomass for BECCS to make enough to suck 10 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide from the air.
Another section of the upcoming report has also been leaked. The report outlines worrying scenarios of conflicts, food crises and economic losses caused by climate change by the end of the century.