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Open letter to Ms Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC



Ahead of the UN Climate Change talks in Paris (COP21), this open letter was sent to the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres today on behalf of 41 signatories representing CO2 storage expertise from 13 countries. The letter also provides a link to supporting evidence.

Link to letter and supporting evidence.

Dear Ms Figueres,

The geological storage of carbon dioxide for Carbon Capture and Storage is secure and safe

As geoscientists and engineers representing decades of scientific research worldwide we would like to reassure the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that the geological storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) with relevance to carbon capture and storage (CCS) is safe, secure and effective, and we have considerable evidence to show this.

Extensive research gives us very high confidence that CO2 storage in appropriately selected sites is secure over geological timescales and leakage is very unlikely. The residual risk of leakage can be managed by well-understood procedures and presents very low risk of harm to the climate, environment or human health.

The knowledge and techniques required to select secure storage sites are well established, being built upon decades of experience in hydrocarbon exploration and production. A global capacity of suitable CO2 storage sites has been estimated at several trillion tonnes. There is also extensive experience of CO2 injection and storage in a variety of situations and locations around the world.

We can state the following with very high confidence:

– Natural CO2 reservoirs have securely held billions of tonnes of CO2 underground for millions of years. These provide an understanding of CO2 storage processes and inform the selection of rock formations for secure storage as part of full-chain CCS.

– Stored CO2 is securely contained by physical and chemical processes that increase storage security with time. Injected CO2, held within the storage site by multiple layers of impermeable rocks, is trapped in isolated pockets, dissolves in fluids in the rock and may eventually react with the rock to make new minerals.

– Millions of tonnes of CO2 have been injected and stored since 1972 in storage pilots and demonstrations, enhanced oil recovery and other industry practices. Accumulated experience of CO2 injection worldwide has led to the development of routine best practices for the operation and closure of CO2 storage sites, and provides direct evidence of engineered storage security.

– CO2 injected into underground rocks can be monitored to confirm its containment. A variety of monitoring methods has been developed and demonstrated. In the very unlikely event of poor site selection, these techniques are able to identify unexpected CO2 migration before leakage to the surface can occur.

– Leakage of CO2 from geological storage presents a very low risk to climate, environment and human health. Research results show that the impacts of any CO2 leakage on land or at the seabed will be localised and very unlikely to cause significant harm to ecosystems and communities. Should CO2move towards the surface, interventions can be made to control, minimise and prevent leakage.

– Tackling CO2 emissions from power generation and key industries is critical to delivering climate change mitigation in line with the UNFCCC’s objectives. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds, with high confidence, that attempting to limit global warming to below 2˚C without CCS is unachievable.

– Full-chain CCS, which integrates CO2 capture, transport and storage technologies, is already being demonstrated at a growing number of facilities. The security of properly selected and regulated storage sites presents no barrier to its further deployment and enables its important contribution to climate change mitigation. We urge you to reflect this position in the content and outcome of your forthcoming talks in Paris this December.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Maxine Akhurst, Geologist, British Geological Survey, UK

Dr Richard Bates, Senior Lecturer in Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of St Andrews, UK

Professor Sally Benson, Director, Global Climate and Energy Project, Stanford University, USA

Professor Martin Blunt, Professor of Petroleum Engineering, Imperial College London, UK

Professor Andrew Chadwick, Individual Merit Research Scientist, British Geological Survey, UK

Dr Byoung-Young Choi, Senior Researcher, Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources, Republic of Korea

Professor Peter Cook, Peter Cook Centre for CCS Research, University of Melbourne, Australia

Dr Isabelle Czernichowski-Lauriol, CO2GeoNet President Emeritus, BRGM, France

Dr Florian Doster, Assistant Professor, Heriot-Watt University, UK

Dr Stuart Gilfillan, Chancellor’s Fellow, University of Edinburgh, UK

Professor Jon Gluyas, Professor in CCS & Geo-Energy, Durham University, UK

Dr William Gunter, Distinguished Scientist, Alberta Research Council, Canada

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage, University of Edinburgh, UK

Dr Susan Hovorka, Senior Research Scientist, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Professor Ruben Juanes, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Dr John Kaldi, Chief Scientist CO2CRC, University of Adelaide, Australia

Professor Joao Marcelo Ketzer, Director, Institute of Petroleum and Natural Resources, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

Dr Dirk Kirste, Associate Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Dr Jun Kita, Senior Researcher, Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth, Japan

Professor Anna Korre, Professor of Environmental Engineering, Imperial College, UK

Professor Xiaochun Li, Institute of Rock and Soil Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, People’s Republic of China

Mr Xiaolong Li, CO2 Storage Demonstration Project Lead, UK-China (Guangdong) CCUS Centre, People’s Republic of China

Professor Knut-Andreas Lie, Chief Scientist, SINTEF ICT, Oslo, Norway

Professor Eric Mackay, Foundation CMG Chair in Reactive Flow Simulation, Heriot-Watt University, UK

Dr Juerg Matter, Associate Professor in Geoengineering, National Oceanographic Centre, University of Southampton, UK

Professor Bernhard Mayer, Professor of Isotope Geochemistry, University of Calgary, Canada

Dr Tip Meckel, Research Scientist, Gulf Coast Carbon Center, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Professor Jan Martin Nordbotten, VISTA Professor, University of Bergen, Norway

Dr Gheorghe Oaie, General Director, National Institute for Marine Geology and Geoecology – GeoEcoMar, Romania

Dr Ernest Perkins, Principal Scientist (Storage), Alberta Innovates Technology Futures, Canada

Mr Sergio Persoglia, CO2GeoNet General Secretary, OGS, Italy

Dr Gillian Pickup, Assistant Professor, Heriot-Watt University, UK

Dr Matthias Raab, Chief Operating Officer, CO2CRC, Melbourne, Australia

Professor Fedora Quattrocchi, Energy and GeoResources, National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology, Rome, Italy

Dr Katherine Romanak, Research Scientist, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, USA

Professor Bruno Saftić, Associate Professor, University of Zagreb, Republic of Croatia

Professor Toru Sato, Department of Ocean Technology, Policy, and Environment, University of Tokyo, Japan

Dr Constantin Stefan Sava, President, European Network for Research in Geo-Energy – EneRG; President, CO2 Club Association, Romania

Dr Kiminori Shitashima, Associate Professor, CO2 Storage Research Division, International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research, Kyushu University, Japan

Dr David Vega-Maza, Senior Lecturer and CCS Champion, University of Aberdeen, UK

Dr Maxwell Watson, Project Development Manager, CO2CRC, Australia

Dr Ton Wildenborg, CO2GeoNet President, TNO, The Netherlands

Professor Di Zhou, South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, People’s Republic of China