Carbon dioxide (CO2) is produced when fossil fuels are burned, and these CO2 emissions are a significant contributor to climate change. Carbon capture is a method of reducing climate change that hasn’t gotten much attention. Howard Herzog provides a brief overview of carbon capture in this MIT Press Essential Knowledge series installment. He also discusses the greater context of climate technology and politics. A group of technologies known as carbon capture, or carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), work to lower CO2 emissions by “catching” CO2 before it is released into the atmosphere and then moving it to a location where it will be stored or utilized. It is the only method of reducing climate change that directly addresses fossil fuels rather than offering substitutes.
Herzog, a pioneer in the study of carbon capture, starts by outlining the causes of climate change and how one potential remedy is carbon capture. He outlines CO2 injection into deep geological formations and chemical scrubbing as examples of capture and storage systems. He discusses current initiatives to implement CCS at manufacturing facilities and power plants and endeavors to capture CO2 from the air. He concludes by examining the politics and policies surrounding CCS and making a case for putting carbon capture higher on the policy agenda.