German government proposes changes to CCS legal framework

13 December 2022

Online agency Clean Energy Wire reports that in a bid to achieve its climate targets, the German government aims to bet more strongly and more quickly than previously thought on the controversial technologies of carbon capture and storage or use (CCU/CCS). A draft assessment report by the economy ministry on the country’s CO2 storage law and international developments on the technologies is currently being co-ordinated among ministries.

The draft that is intended to feed into government decisions on CCS says that the current legal framework stands in the way of actually making use the technology and proposes corresponding changes, and says the government has promised a national ‘Carbon Management Strategy,’ which would pave the way for the required legal reforms. It adds that different scenarios project only low use of CCS by 2030, but by 2045, between 34 and 73 million tonnes of CO2 would be captured, transported and stored per year.

Most scenarios drawn up by researchers and the government for climate neutrality by mid-century, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (the IPCC), say that simply reducing annual human-made greenhouse gas emissions is not enough to limit global warming to 1.5°C. So carbon removal measures like carbon farming or CCS would be necessary also. In Germany, years of protests against industry plans to use CCS as a lifeline for coal power made the technology anathema for most German politicians, with the result that the legal framework in force makes it impossible currently to start a CCS project in the country. But the new goal of climate neutrality by 2045 forces the country into a fresh debate on dealing with unavoidable CO2 emissions. The current government’s coalition agreement says that it will develop a strategy for ‘technical negative emissions’ to deal with the unavoidable remaining emissions, such as those created through agriculture and some industry. German government officials recently welcomed the EU proposal to certify carbon removal.

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