European CCS: Learning from Failure or Failing to Learn?


After a decade of false starts Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is back on the EU climate policy agenda. The European Green Deal puts mid-century climate neutrality at the heart of the EU’s future economic, climate and energy policy. CCS could be a critical tool for tackling emissions in areas where there are few alternatives.

The pathway to Europe becoming climate-neutral is yet to be determined, but any inclusion of CCS in future plans must fit within the broader aim of decarbonisation.

Developing CCS should not be viewed as a policy end in itself. To ensure this, there must be a proper understanding of how and where CCS might be best deployed to help deliver climate neutrality. This paper sets out the minimum requirements for CCS to have any role in Europe’s decarbonisation, building on experience from previous attempts to develop CCS.

Key points

  1. Europe can lead the world on regulating the deployment of CCS for climate neutrality. Although CCS has already been deployed in other regions, Europe is in a strong position to lead the next phase of CCS development. The policy, regulatory, and financial frameworks that support the clean transition mean Europe can develop CCS in a way that contributes to achieving mid-century climate neutrality
  2. CCS deployment must be targeted as there are limitations affecting its potential end use. Although CCS may help abate emissions in some sectors, its technical and geographic limitations mean it is not an economy-wide solution for climate neutrality. Moreover, it should only be deployed as a decarbonisation tool of last resort, and not supersede other methods of moving to a climate neutral economy.
  3. Key stakeholders must be engaged throughout the development process. A wider and more targeted range of stakeholders should be engaged in CCS development, including heavy industry and civil society. Incumbent oil and gas companies must also be engaged to ensure CCS is properly supported and financed, but in a way that does not undermine the broader transition to climate neutrality. Oil and gas companies must also be transparent about CCS development and its potential costs and limitations.
  4. CCS development must be jointly planned and coordinated by the EU, its member states, and local bodies. The development of CCS is potentially crucial for the EU’s climate neutrality target, but not all member states will be able to develop it at scale. Sub-national authorities, national governments, and the EU must cooperate across policy making and regulation.

Read the full discussion paper here: European CCS: Learning from Failure or Failing to Learn.


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