BECCS and 600 ppm

I have a couple of comments about the “Mitigation of Climate Change” report released yesterday by the IGCC.

First, I learned from this report what “BECCS” means.

“CCS” of course is carbon capture and storage. Burn fossil fuel and dispose safely with the CO2 at the point of emission. Or maybe capture an equivalent amount of CO2 by using olivine.

The “BE” added before the “CCS” means “bioenergy” (page 24 of the report).

As discussed earlier, it is possible to make  coal from present day biomass. See my 2013 post titled “Good Coal“. Doing that leaves one with zero CO2 cost when firing the coal.

Doing that and on top of that deploy CCS leaves one with negative CO2 emissions. That would be highly desirable to have.

The way to get there would be to put BECCS plants right at the top of the new merit order. Give them priority over all other forms of renewable energy. Solar and wind are nice, but they don’t come with negative emissions. Running the meter backwards is exactly what the climate needs.

Again, the new merit order would assign priority to BECCS projects regardless of their cost. This would lead to slightly higher electricity costs in the short term, but as long as we don’t see a big boom in BECCS installations, it would not have much influence on the big picture. If we do see such a big boom, that’s a nice problem to have.

Which leads me to my second comment. The report gives a number for the expected cost of mitigation efforts on page 17. It says:

Scenarios in which all countries of the world begin mitigation immediately, there is a single global carbon price, and all key technologies are available, have been used as a cost-effective benchmark for estimating macroeconomic mitigation costs. Under these assumptions, mitigation scenarios that reach atmospheric concentrations of about 450 ppM CO2 equivalent by 2100 entail losses in global consumption – not including benefits of reduced climate change as well as co-benefits and adverse side-effects of mitigation – of 1% to 4% (median 1.7 %) in 2030, 2% to 6% (median 3.4%) in 2050, and 3% to 11% (median 4.8%) in 2100 relative to consumption in baseline scenarios that grows anywhere from 300% to more than 900% over the century. These numbers correspond to an annualized reduction of consumption growth by 0.04 to 0.14 (median 0.06) percentage points over the century relative to annualized consumption growth in the baseline that is between 1.6% and 3% per year.

This is a surprisingly low value. It is only 600 ppm.

It is probably good news that these experts think that even with such a lukewarm and cheap effort global warming can be solved. On the other hand, I certainly don’t agree that this kind of investment is adequate considering the risks involved. 600 ppm investment may lead us right to a 600 ppm CO2 World.

I for one think that at least 2 percent of global GDP need to go into mitigation efforts. Not 0.06 percent.

Bonus link to my own idea on how to easily solve global warming in a week or two.


Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003,

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