September 16, 2021

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Technology and compromise! Climate protection is not either/or

Soon we’ll buy an electric car, take the train on vacation, switch to green electricity, eat more plant-based food, and when we go shopping we’ll always stock up so new trees can be planted somewhere. Taking small steps towards the grand goal of saving the planet — and in the meantime, we’re waiting for clever high-tech startups to capture carbon to suck evil CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into animal feed, perfume and gems.

In the Fridays for Future demonstrations, the demands are even more radical. Totally car-free cities, no meat, everything by bike – working without much of what communities have set aside for the past 50 years is the answer. It somehow feels reminded of grandfather and grandmother’s life in the country back then, just with 5G smartphones and delivery drones. Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) recently said that the “only correct approach” is to rely on “innovation and technology”. It would be a mistake to think that something can be achieved by letting go of it.

Carbon capture technology needed to achieve 2050 climate goals

However, it is clear to anyone who has dealt a little with the situation that they need both: abandoning many things in everyday life in order to reduce new CO2 emissions as much as possible, and carbon capture/removal techniques in order to remove old CO2 emissions that already exist. from the environment.

Prototyping is not helping us today

The International Energy Agency (IEA) is relatively clear in its data: “In 2050, nearly half of the reductions will come from technologies currently only in the demonstration or prototype stage. This requires governments to rapidly increase and reprioritize R&D spending – as well as on Demonstrate and deploy clean energy technologies – and put them at the heart of energy and climate policies Advances in advanced batteries, hydrogen electrolysis, and direct air capture and storage can be particularly effective recently in a report.

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The bottom line is that you have to start practicing compromise at the latest now. Because CO2 vacuum cleaners are still mostly prototypes today (Climeworks won’t actually start operating until 2025) or only run very small amounts today to reduce emissions. Huge government spending on research and development and funding will be necessary so that carbon capture technologies can really make a difference. And even if Climeworks, Carbfix & Co. were running at full speed in 2050 – we’d still have to get rid of the other half of CO2 with the money already available – and that’s without it.

Stone, animal feed or perfume: start-ups and big CO2 recycling companies