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German National Academy recommends carbon capture to reach climate targets

The German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina on Wednesday emphasized the importance of actively and permanently removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere in order to achieve the country’s climate targets.

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) should be expanded for this purpose, the academy said, noting that plans to limit carbon storage in Germany to marine areas is an attempt “to avoid political disputes over storage sites.”

From a scientific point of view, the academy argued, there is “nothing to be said against the underground storage of CO2 on land if careful exploration, transparent site selection, and ongoing monitoring are guaranteed.”

The Leopoldina scientists emphasized that underground CO2 storage should not be used to prolong the use of fossil fuels, but to remove unavoidable CO2 emissions from sectors such as agriculture and industry.

With a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 10.1 percent year-on-year to around 673 million tons last year, Germany is on track to meet its 2030 climate targets for the first time, according to the latest projections by the Federal Environment Agency (UBA).

However, the Leopoldina Academy believes that simply cutting emissions will not be enough to achieve climate neutrality and keep global warming below the Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

German company Wintershall Dea is already working with the European CCS pioneers Norway and Denmark on projects for the transportation of CO2, which is to be stored in the North Sea. A CO2 hub is due to go into operation in Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany from 2029.

However, as the result of parent company BASF’s plans to sell Wintershall Dea to the British oil company Harbour Energy, the European Union and its largest economy risk losing this valuable CCS know-how.

In January, members of almost all parliamentary groups in the Bundestag, the lower house of the German parliament, expressed “great concern about a serious loss of competence for Germany.” In response to criticism, the national government announced plans to carry out a review of the deal. Enditem ■

Famagusta Gazette