While risk is a fact of life, managing risk is complex. This is particularly true today in considering how to address climate change. We know that we must act, and act quickly, to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid dangerous climate change. Failure to act risks catastrophic climate impacts. We also know, however, that deploying technologies to significantly cut greenhouse gases will fundamentally change the way society produces and uses energy. Carbon capture and geologic sequestration (CCS) technology promises to provide deep emissions cuts, particularly from coal power generation, but deploying CCS creates risks of its own. This article first considers the risks associated with CCS, which involves capturing CO2 emissions from industrial sources and power plants, transporting the CO2 by pipeline, and injecting it underground for permanent sequestration. This article then suggests ways in which these risks can be minimized and managed and considers more broadly when or if CCS should be deployed or whether its use should be limited or rejected in favor of other solutions.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
∗Alexandra B. Klass is Associate Professor of Law, University of Minnesota Law School. Elizabeth J. Wilson is Assistant Professor, Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. This research was made possible in part through support from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (Grant 2007117) to Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Engineering and Public Policy for the project Regulation of Capture and Deep Geological Sequestration of Carbon Dioxide. Views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and may not represent consensus findings of the project. A special thanks to Sara Bergan for her valuable research assistance.
- Carbon capture
- Climate change
- Global warming