CO2 capture and storage – “2050 is coming soon”

Kristina Koch and Samuel Eberenz, Stiftung Risiko-Dialog

On 14 October 2022, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) invited participants to the symposium “CO2 Capture and Storage – Necessity and Pathways to Implementation”. Various representatives from the sectors of administration, business, research and politics discussed potential opportunities, challenges and risks on the topic of CO2 capture and storage.

2050 is coming soon – The urgency of net zero

Simonetta Sommaruga also addressed the audience on behalf of the Federal Council. She said that we must move forward in climate change and that technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 would be indispensable in this context. The Federal Councillor explicitly demanded that we as society are called upon to quickly find answers to essential questions concerning the long-term extraction and storage of CO2. “2050 is coming soon”. Director of the FOEN, Katrin Schneeberger, also stressed that both the avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions and the removal and permanent storage of CO2 are essential to jointly achieve the net zero target.

Reduction and removal of CO2

The keynote speech by Gabriele Walker, founder of Valence Solutions and Rethinking Removals, focused on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). In her speech, she mentioned three essential points to the question “Why is it happening now?”. First, Gabriele Walker stressed that CCS should not be seen as an isolated “story”, but rather as an aspect of a larger and comprehensive decarbonisation plan. Secondly, she maintained that CCS must be applied where it causes the most emissions – namely in industry – and concentrated as much as possible in industrial hubs. Thirdly, it would now be particularly important to demonstrate through pilot projects that the technologies actually work and are scalable. With great emphasis, Gabrielle Walker concluded by saying that it was too late to reduce emissions only – we must reduce CO2 emissions and at the same time remove them in the long term with CCS.

The work of generations

Common to all the appeals of the different actors was the clear message that the participation of the population regarding emission reduction is indispensable to counteract the threats of climate change in the long term. Moreover, in addition to mechanisms of CO2 capture at point sources, other mechanisms of CO2 removal and storage should not be lost sight of. At the end of the event, Katrin Schneeberger was deeply impressed by the spirit of optimism and the comprehensive commitment of the various players in the field of CO2 removal and storage, and summarised that this was about the work of generations.

With the Swiss Carbon Removal Platform (CDR Swiss), the Risk Dialogue Foundation provides a platform for exchange between actors, but also for the public debate on CO2 removal and storage. Participation in the national working group on CCS and negative emission technologies initiated by the FOEN in September enables us to bring in the perspective of the various member organisations of CDR Swiss and to include the view of the social debate and participation. Do you have any questions about carbon capture and storage in Switzerland or are you interested in the Swiss Carbon Removal Platform? We look forward to hearing from you:

(Cover picture: Artwork created by Michael Meier, picture taken by Susanne Rhein)

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