42- www. world- petroleum. org 4.1- A sustainable future Yet despite the media's fascination with cli-mate change, despite the campaigning by ce-lebrities, despite the prevalence of green think-ing, the global recession has taken steam out of the movement. Governments feel restor-ing economic growth is a more pressing prior-ity, and green projects that could abate global warming look like pricey luxuries. That lukewarm approach to the climate is-sue has been evident from the way the main parties who will be expected to agree terms in Copenhagen - the big economies such as the US, EU and China - have gone about preparations for the meeting. Normally, multi-governmental treaty meetings come after months of work by busy " sherpas", the diplo-mats who specialise in horse- trading across conference tables. The idea is to have an agreement in place, so when senior officials jet in they just have to hammer out the last few fine details. This time around things have been low- key. Indeed, half way through 2009, Germany's environment minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said the meeting could be a " disas-ter". The preparatory meetings had failed to bring any " movement" towards Copenhagen. Mega sticking point There's one mega sticking point. Who is re-sponsible for emissions and who should pay to fix the problem? Take the case of China. Building a new coal- fired power station every week, China has been the bugbear of envi-ronmentalists in the West. The country has now overtaken the US as the world's biggest carbon emitter. If we can't stop China's emis-sions, what's the point of doing anything our-selves? Why should we take a financial hit and let China off? That, in a nutshell, was one argument opponents of Kyoto in the US used to derail their ratification of the treaty. But hang on. China has prioritised eco-nomic growth over the environment, true. But when you break down its emissions in per capita terms - how much each Chinese person emits - the figure is just a fraction of the average per capita emissions in the West. Furthermore, Westerners have had 200 years abusing the environment to get rich. If we hadn't pumped all that carbon into the atmosphere in the first place the world wouldn't be at the tipping point. There are counter arguments to this. The West also grew rich through slavery - and no one thinks the developing world should follow that course. But the dispute is, none-theless, almost intractable. If Copenhagen manages some kind of compromise, it will be a triumph over deep- seated biases. But there is hope, and it comes in the form of the US' new president. Obama has prom-ised to revolutionise the country's stance on climate change It's probably one reason he was surprisingly awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2009. Where the George W Bush administration objected to Kyoto, Obama promises leadership in Copenhagen. He's also a self- proclaimed multi- later-alist. Many other leaders, under pressure at home, want to bask in his international popularity. And several Kyoto laggards, such as Canada, are well within the or-bit of US influence. Western governments have also been chastened, not to say hum-bled, by their recent economic failures. All of these factors might make for more lis-tening - and less arguing - by the devel-oped and developing world. China, for one, is now promising action. In September 2009, president Hu Jintao prom-ised China would reduce its emissions by a " notable margin" in the next decade. So, be hopeful for an agreement in Copenhagen that makes 2009 the year the world fought back. But don't expect mira-cles. Compromise is the name of the game in international treaty- making, especially when the stakes are as high as they will be in December. Don't be surprised if the diplo-mats fudge in Denmark and bigger decisions are postponed until 2010. We might have to wait while bluffs are called and horses traded. It could take months and probably will. But will the climate wait for us? ??
43- www. energy- future. com 4.2- A sustainable future Cutting emissions: the big challenge Fossil fuels are going to provide a signifi-cant part of our energy needs for decades to come. We need to use green energy, but replacing oil, gas and coal overnight with re-newable or nuclear power would be both im-practical and very expensive. That means en-ergy companies need to make their industry as sustainable as possible by exploring all av-enues to cut carbon dioxide ( CO2) emissions. Their expertise has been important in for-mulating a global response to climate change at forums such as the UN- sponsored con-ference, held in Copenhagen in December 2009. Some of the industry's views are chan-nelled through the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association ( IPIECA), a body with observer status at UN talks, which provides a con-duit for the latest initiatives coming from its members in the oil and gas industry. " The oil and gas industry realises major challenges and opportunities lie ahead in ad-dressing climate- change risks. These include taking actions now to reduce emissions, pro-viding new, more powerful energy options and gaining a clearer understanding to better guide society's response," IPIECA says. But what does this mean in practice? To stem carbon emissions, companies can reduce the emissions they produce in the first place; stop the CO2 and other green-house- gases ( GHGs) they do produce from entering the atmosphere; or help reduce emissions from other sources. Oil and gas firms are active in all these areas. Going underground The technology that has perhaps gener-ated the most headlines in the fight against global warming is carbon capture and stor-age ( CCS), which enables CO2 to be cap-tured at source - at an oil and gas process-ing facility or power station for example - and then buried out of harm's way in de-pleted oil and gas reservoirs, or other un-derground chambers, such as aquifers. This is an enticing prospect, because if that can be made to work, then fossil fuel will be a lot less damaging to the atmosphere over the remainder of this century ( see p94). Although it is a costly technology, which has yet to be adopted on a widespread basis, the signs from pioneering projects around the world are encouraging. Proponents say there is no reason the technology cannot be scaled up for wider use. The coal industry is being targeted initially for CCS use, because coal burning results in more carbon emissions than the combus-tion of oil or gas. But oil and gas companies are not sitting on their hands, as they know their industry also needs to act. Some of the pioneering work was led by the IEA Greenhouse Gas Programme in the early 1990s. Within this programme the first carbon- storage monitoring exercise was set up in the North Sea with Norway's StatoilHydro and its partners. StatoilHydro has managed to keep the CO2 content of Energy firms must make the industry as sustainable as possible by exploring all avenues to cut CO2 emissions