Setting the right standards – POLITICO

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The EU aims to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 — but that goal will not be met without measures to reduce emissions and remove existing carbon from the atmosphere.

The EU has now identified carbon removal as a major economic and climate opportunity.”

Yuri Sebregts, Executive Vice President Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Shell.

The launch of the Carbon Removal Certification Framework (CRCF) was the bloc’s first important step. It aims to ensure that CO2 removals can be duly accounted for and verified. 

But getting the system right isn’t going to be easy, according to Yuri Sebregts, Shell’s Chief Technology Officer. 

“Direct air capture (DAC) is already technically possible today, it’s just not possible to do it at a very large scale, and it is very expensive to do nowadays,” Sebregts said during a recent Energy Visions event.

Sonja van Renssen, Editor in Chief, Energy Monitor; Christian Holzleitner, Head of Unit for Land, Economy and Carbon Removals, European Commission; MEP Lídia Pereira, CRCF Rapporteur, EPP, Portugal, European Parliament; Eve Tamme, Zero Emissions Platform Chair, Climate Principles, Climate Policy Advisory; Dr. Oliver Geden, Senior Fellow, German Institute for International and Security Affairs | via POLITICO

However, Sebregts is positive that it’s possible to make DAC a reality in the near future. “I think it is quite credible to have commercial-scale direct air capture up and running in about 10 years,” he said.

There’s already uptake in new DAC methods coming online where large machines are used to draw air through membranes and, through different processes, remove that CO2 and store it underground.

To make carbon removal commercial, a few things are needed, Sebregts said. First, we need access to renewable energy to drive the process and enough land to capture the CO2, as well as a reliable supply chain for the materials and equipment.

We also need technological development and that’s about people working together, including start-ups, academia and large corporations.”

Yuri Sebregts, Executive Vice President Technology and Chief Technology Officer, Shell.

Jan Cienski, Senior Policy Editor, POLITICO; Frida Sund Falkevik, Counsellor (climate and Fit for 55 package), Swedish Perm. Rep.; Christian Holzleitner, Head of Unit for Land, Economy and Carbon Removals, European Commission | via POLITICO

Shell has partnered with more than 300 scientists from universities around the world to develop new carbon capture methods. 

But most important, Sebregts said, is a “supportive and predictable policy framework that gives investors confidence that they can build supply and gives consumers an incentive to actually procure them.”

Shell believes that the launch of a voluntary certification of EU carbon removal is a necessary first step to implement policies that direct investment into carbon removal solutions — without diverting efforts to achieve direct emission reductions in all sectors of the economy. 

In the video below, Sebregts talks about the potential of carbon removal technologies and what is needed to make them successful. 

If you want to learn more about the Energy Visions series, click here.

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