New report and expert panel examine multi-billion dollar oil sands
TORONTO, Sept. 23 /CNW/ - Multi-billion dollar programs backed by the Alberta and Canadian governments to bury carbon dioxide emissions deep underground may cause environmental damage while doing little to fight climate change, according to a paper released at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre today.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), now being tested in Canada, is considered by many to be a solution to the problem of greenhouse gas emissions from major industrial sectors such as Alberta's Athabasca oil sands. The Alberta government has committed $2 billion to investing in CCS research and products, in addition to funds already committed by the federal government.
But in a research paper released today by the Program on Water Issues at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies, award-winning writer Graham Thomson said that there are many unanswered questions about CCS.
"Capturing carbon dioxide and disposing of it underground raises many critical issues," Thomson said in his paper, Burying Carbon Dioxide in Underground Saline Aquifers: Political folly or climate change fix? (http://www.powi.ca/pdfs/events/Agenda-Conference-Carbon-Capture-and-Storage-and-Water.pdf)
"Nobody knows how billions of tonnes of highly compressed carbon dioxide will behave underground."
"Could CO2 eventually leak and find its way into underground sources of drinking water? What would happen if sequestered carbon dioxide were to leak into the atmosphere or creep into an underground source of drinking water 50 years from now? Who would be responsible? Who would monitor the carbon dioxide underground for centuries? What would happen if carbon dioxide injected in one jurisdiction migrated into a neighbouring jurisdiction?"
Adèle Hurley, Director of the Program on Water Issues, said "Various interests are pinning a lot of hope--and spending significant public monies--on carbon capture and storage, yet we're only beginning to ask the important questions. We need a better understanding of the pros and cons, of the effectiveness of CCS, and the possible costs."
The day-long discussion began with a presentation by Thomson and included contributions from an expert panel gathered by the Program on Water Issues. In his presentation, which was webcast, Thomson noted that there is still much unknown about carbon capture and storage.
"CCS technology is expensive, would require large amounts of fresh water and energy, and is untested on an industrial level at the scale necessary to achieve significant climate change results. The challenges are enormous."
SOURCE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO MUNK CENTRE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDIES PROGRAM ON WATER ISSUES
For further information: For further information: Program On Water Issues, firstname.lastname@example.org, (416) 946-8919