Friday, June 28, 2013

IMechE Calls on UK Government to Support BECCS

The influential British Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has called on the UK government to expand its support for BECCS technology.  In a recent policy statement, IMechE considered the potential for future land-use tensions between crops grown for electricity production and crops grown for food.  According to its analysis, realistic projections of land required for BECCS power generation in 2050 range between 0.18 gigahectares (Gha) and 0.27 Gha globally.  This is compared to 4.13-8.83 Gha required for food production, out of a total 10 Gha capable of supporting biomass at the global level.  Such deployment of BECCS would result in 2.9-4.4 Gt of carbon sequestered per year.

Given the modest land-use requirements for BECCS compared to food production, IMechE concludes that, "in the case of current global aspirations for electricity production from biomass, those [land-use] tensions may be small.  Furthermore, through the use of an integrated management approach to food and biomass-based electricity production, ... they may indeed be eliminated."  Further taking into account the significant carbon storage potential of BECCS, IMechE recommends the UK government increase domestic and international support for BECCS, including "pursuing the future inclusion of 'negative emissions' credits in international climate change mitigation agreements."

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Documents Shed Additional Light on 2012 Canadian Government Meeting

Newly available documents, both marked "SECRET," offer additional information on the previously undisclosed high-level Canadian government meeting on geoengineering held last summer (see Senior Canadian Government Meeting Looked at Geoengineering, 6/25).  The first document, an internal Natural Resources Canada memo written in preparation for the July 5 meeting, indicates that geoengineering was the primary focus of the meeting, and that invitees consisted of officials at the deputy minister level.  The memo is heavily redacted.

The second document is a slide deck that evidently served as Environment Canada's main presentation at the gathering.  Titled "Geoengineering: Science and Governance," the deck provides a standard overview of geoengineering and its conventional breakdown into CDR and SRM methods.  Interestingly, the concluding section, "Looking ahead," is completely redacted from the slide presentation.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Senior Canadian Government Meeting Looked at Geoengineering

The Ottawa Citizen is reporting that a "secret" Canadian government meeting on worst-case climate scenarios took place last summer, and examined geoengineering as one potential response.  The meeting was convened by the former deputy minister of Environment Canada, Paul Boothe, and was closed to the public.  It is unclear who attended the meeting, but invitees included representatives from the Department of National Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, Natural Resources Canada, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.  Prime Minister Stephen Harper's national security advisor declined to attend.

The newspaper obtained a presentation made by Environment Canada under Canada's freedom of information law.  In its presentation, the department stated that, "To avoid surpassing it [the 2 C warming target], global CO2 emissions must level off immediately, and decline to negative values before end of century (implying net CO2 extraction from atmosphere), or other means of moderating warming would be needed."  More specific details of the discussions on geoengineering are unavailable.  The inclusion of geoengineering on the meeting agenda was apparently spurred by a March 2012 email exchange between Boothe and Harvard professor David Keith.  It should be noted that this meeting occurred prior to last fall's disclosures regarding rogue OIF experiments off the coast of Haida Gwaii.