The long-term targets of the Paris Agreement — retaining international warming effectively beneath 2 levels Celsius and ideally 1.5 C with a purpose to avert the worst impacts of local weather change — is probably not achievable by greenhouse gasoline emissions-reduction measures alone. Most eventualities for assembly these targets additionally require the deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs) that take away carbon dioxide (CO2) from the ambiance.
A number one NET candidate is bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), which extracts power from CO2-absorbing crops, captures CO2 that’s launched into the ambiance when the extracted plant matter is combusted, and shops it underground. The end-to-end course of entails securing accessible land, cultivating and transporting crops, changing biomass into electrical energy with carbon seize, and transporting and storing the captured CO2.
On first look, it could look like a no brainer to ramp up BECCS expertise all over the world to make sure that the worldwide effort to stabilize the local weather will succeed. But the prospect of cultivating crops for BECCS on a large scale has raised considerations about antagonistic, unintended penalties. These embrace environmental impacts that vary from soil erosion to biodiversity loss, and financial impacts, particularly increased meals costs that would consequence from redirecting huge tracts of agricultural land to attract down carbon emissions.
A brand new study within the journal Global Environmental Change focuses squarely on the financial implications of BECCS. Representing all main elements of BECCS within the MIT Economic Projection and Policy Analysis (EPPA) mannequin, researchers on the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change and Imperial College London estimate the seemingly impacts of the expertise on the worldwide economy underneath local weather coverage eventualities that hold international warming beneath 1.5 C and a couple of C, respectively.
They discover that whereas it’s economically possible to implement such insurance policies with out counting on BECCS, large-scale deployment of the expertise within the second half of the century considerably lowers the general implementation prices. Moreover, the inclusion of BECCS in these insurance policies prevents widespread financial damages: within the 1.5 C situation, international consumption decreases by virtually 20 p.c by 2100 with out BECCS, however solely by 5 p.c with BECCS.
“Our modeling suggests that the benefits of BECCS far outweigh the costs,” says Howard Herzog, senior analysis engineer on the MIT Energy Initiative and co-author of the research. “In terms of costs, BECCS fares better than direct air capture, the other major negative emissions technology that uses carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS).”
BECCS additionally considerably reduces the carbon costs related to cap-and-trade insurance policies designed to cut back emissions sufficiently to maintain international warming beneath 1.5 C and a couple of C. By creating detrimental emissions, the expertise relieves strain from the emissions cap and subsequently lowers the worth of emissions permits. At the identical time, BECCS is compensated for its detrimental emissions by means of the carbon value, which is a considerable income.
“We conduct a series of experiments which robustly demonstrate that revenue from carbon permits is really driving the deployment of BECCS,” says Jennifer Morris, research co-author and analysis scientist on the MIT Joint Program and MIT Energy Initiative. “We find that the value of CO2 removal is far greater than the value of the electricity generation. Electricity is essentially a byproduct.”
Finally, the research concludes that whereas BECCS deployment ends in main adjustments in land use to accommodate bioenergy crop cultivation according to assembly the 1.5 C and a couple of C local weather targets, it drives up the costs of meals, livestock, and crops by lower than 5 p.c on common by 2100 (as much as 15 p.c in chosen areas). Most notably, meals costs rise by simply 1.5 p.c globally.
These outcomes recommend that, in live performance with dramatic emissions-reduction measures, BECCS may very well be an economically efficient instrument within the international effort to stabilize the local weather.
“We have shown that large-scale deployment of BECCS could dramatically lower the costs of implementing policies aimed at meeting the long-term climate goals of the Paris Agreement, and avoid major price increases in agricultural commodities,” says MIT Joint Program deputy director and MITEI Senior Research Scientist Sergey Paltsev, who co-authored the research. “Further research is needed, however, to provide a more granular assessment of food supply chains and BECCS components, and to ensure that such deployment is politically viable.”