Feb. 7 (UPI) -- Australian energy company BHP Billiton issued a call to policymakers to do more to advance development of carbon capture technologies.
The International Energy Agency described carbon capture and storage as a necessary addition to other low-carbon energy technologies meant to drive down global greenhouse gas emissions. The process involves capturing carbon dioxide from sources like power plants and storing it in such a way that it won't enter the atmosphere.
To meet the benchmarks outlined in the Paris climate agreement, the IEA said CCS "will not be optional." Fiona Wild, a vice president in charge of climate change issues for the Australian company, said advancing CCS as a commercial option requires more industry and government support.
"Policies must be embedded in long-term strategies that recognize a range of abatement options will play a role in the future," she said in a statement. "In the nearer term, industry and government must work together to develop pilot projects, demonstration plants and 'first of a kind' commercial scale operations."
The IEA said there are already 15 large-scale CCS projects in operation and six more are on schedule to start this year. BHP Billiton added it was 20 years since the start of the first large-scale CCS project, at Sleipner in Norway. The United States, meanwhile, hosts the largest CCS project of its kind, the Petra Nova project in southwest Houston.
For its part, BHP Billiton is working to advance the technology for China, but Wild said more can be done.
"The challenge is to scale up CCS development at a pace that keeps us on track for credible decarbonization," she said. "The longer that action is delayed, the more critical CCS will become."
Between 2003 and 2013, global carbon emissions increased by an average of 2.3 percent annually, but have since slowed to around 0.2 percent.