Is Carbon Capture Essential to Fighting Climate Change?

When it comes to carbon dioxide, last year was a record year. The world emitted more of the climate-warming gas in 2022 than in any year since scientists began recording levels in 1900. The culprit, says the International Energy Agency, is society’s voracious appetite for fossil fuels, and the need to burn them. So … what can be done to prevent dangerous levels of warming? One potential method is called carbon capture and storage, a technology in which CO2 is extracted and stored in underground facilities. In fact, as recently as February, Exxon Mobil announced that it will use Honeywell technology in Texas to capture some seven million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Other companies, meanwhile, have followed suit. But it is not without controversy. Critics say the technology is not cost effective, is unreliable in large scales, and that the level of carbon removal needed to help the planet is well beyond current capacity. As such, they say, it is a dangerous distraction in the broader fight against climate change, potentially diluting the urgency in reducing emissions. Others say these systems are ever more adept at capturing gases from the air, and that they have the potential to become a critical tool in the battle against rising emissions. It is in this context that we debate the following question: Is Carbon Capture Essential to Fighting Climate Change?