IPCC Report Author Estimates $800 Billion Annual Cost to Capture Carbon from Power Plants

     There will be a little more required to stop global warming than making “small changes to your daily routine,” as Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” Web site has suggested.


     One of the authors of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage estimated the worldwide cost could run an astonishing $800 billion annually.


     Stanford University Energy and Environmental Sciences Professor Dr. Ken Caldeira said his 2005 IPCC Report estimated a cost of about $100 per ton of carbon (not just carbon dioxide) for carbon capture and storage costs in ideal locations.


     According to the World Coal Institute (WCI), the technology allows "emissions of carbon dioxide to be 'captured' and 'stored' – preventing them from entering the atmosphere.”


     One example of this technology is the capture of carbon dioxide gas. “CO2 can be stored in geological formations such as saline aquifers or expired oil and gas reservoirs,” according to the WCI’s Web site.


     “We put out about 8 billion tons of carbon each year from all sources, globally,” Caldeira told the Business & Media Institute. “Preventing emissions from some sources will be much cheaper than $100 per ton and from other sources much more expensive, but $100 per ton [of] carbon is a reasonable ballpark estimate for an average.”


     It’s a matter of simple mathematics according to Caldeira.

     “So, that $800 billion comes from multiplying the 8 billion tons per year emission times the $100 per ton ballpark price,” Caldeira said.

     Caldeira admitted it was “not a precise number.”


     “Less than the cost of medical care, and a bit less than the global military budget, but still a lot of money,” Caldeira said on September 5 at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists. “We could do it, but it's a major investment.”


     Pegging a cost for the United States’ share is a little more difficult. Even if it were considered a global effort – as this cost is derived from a United Nations-sanctioned report – it would be quite expensive.


     Money from the U.S. taxpayer already makes up 22 percent of the United Nations’ budget, despite the fact that there are 192 member nations. In 2006 the budget was $1.92 billion.