Researchers from the University of Oxford have proposed a policy to combat climate change that holds the largest emitters accountable for their emissions.
The proposal, titled The Carbon Takeback Obligation, was designed by Oxford Net Zero, a research initiative within the University of Oxford, dedicated to achieving climate neutrality.
The proposal would require fossil fuel producers to permanently sequester a percentage of the carbon dioxide generated by their products. According to the researchers, the percentage would start at 1% in 2023, and then increase to 10% in 2030, eventually reaching 100% by 2050.
The idea was first proposed as an amendment to the UK’s 2015 energy bill, but was ultimately rejected due to opposition from lobby groups.
To achieve this CO2 “take back”, the researchers call on one critical technology, carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS separates CO2 from other gases and compresses it, before injecting it deep underground and preventing the CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
CCS has formed part of a wider toolkit of technologies to achieve net zero emissions for some time, but, its adoption has been sluggish due to the high costs and bespoke nature of projects.
However, supporters of the proposal believe it is a viable pathway towards net zero, by encouraging further adoption of CCS by key industry players, which in turn would reduce the cost through economies of scale.
It is estimated that energy accounts for more than two-thirds of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally, so by targeting fossil fuel producers, the proposal aims to tackle the problem at the source.
But, The Carbon Takeback Obligation is not without its critics. Aside from fossil fuel companies, some argue that it is simply a licence to continue extracting fossil fuels rather than investing in renewable alternatives. Others argue that the hurdles to implementing such a scheme are too great and that the associated costs would ultimately be passed on to consumers.
The researchers form a University of Oxford interdisciplinary research initiative dedicated to climate neutrality, and other climate-focused organisations.
Oxford Net Zero is an interdisciplinary research initiative within the University of Oxford, dedicated to achieving climate neutrality. Working with leading climate researchers, the platform brings together policies and tools to help businesses and policymakers achieve that goal.
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