Environmental Science & Technology · 2008

Regulating the geological sequestration of CO₂

Elizabeth J. Wilson, M. Granger Morgan, Jay Apt, Mark Bonner, Christopher Bunting, Jenny Gode, R. Stuart Haszeldine, Carlo C. Jaeger, David W. Keith, Sean T. McCoy, Melisa F. Pollak, David M. Reiner, Edward S. Rubin, Asbjørn Torvanger, Christina Ulardic, Shalini P. Vajjhala, David G. Victor, IAin W. Wright

Once CO₂ enters the atmosphere, much of it remains there for >100 years. For this reason, even if emissions were stabilized today, the atmospheric concentration would continue to grow. To stabilize atmospheric concentrations, global CO₂ emissions must be reduced from today’s level by about an order of magnitude. Energy conservation, improved end-use efficiency, appropriate use of renewable energy, and nuclear power can all contribute to a portfolio of low-emission power generation. However, many of these strategies have significant technical limitations or high cost, or—in the case of wind and solar—present operational difficulties, such as intermittency. For countries such as the U.S. and Germany, which today produce more than half of their electricity from coal, or China and India, where a large majority of the electricity is generated from coal, it is difficult to see how cost-effective and politically viable emission reductions can be achieved during the next several decades without at least some continued use of coal.

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