On November 9, 2015, Bellona Europa hosted a first Carbon-Negative Conference in Brussels, in what is hoped to become an annual event. The purpose of the conference was to discuss the opportunities and challenges of, as well as reasoning for, combining sustainable bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS/Bio-CCS) to attain carbon negative emissions. The conference received financial support from the CLIMIT programme of the Norwegian Research Council.
The perception of both technologies is very sensitive, and this is exacerbated when these are used in combination. To that regard, the conference was an invitation-only event gathering NGOs, academics and industry representatives to speak freely and constructively on the matter.
The conference’s purpose included the highlighting of recent experiences with EU bioenergy policy that has led to perverse incentives and unsustainable practices of bioenergy production and use. Furthermore, to shed light on how CCS has been caught between being perceived as a life line to fossil fuels while also being the only currently available option to enable the deep decarbonisation of industrial sectors such as steel and cement.
Conference attendees largely based discussion on the latest IPCC report’s two degree scenario which requires carbon negative solutions, as the basis for the pressing need to progress discussion of BECCS/Bio-CCS.
”Many essential challenges with Bio-CCS were discussed at the conference and we are glad to have brought a good range of actors together to collectively discuss technical and non-technical barriers to Bio-CCS deployment” says Bellona Europa’s organiser of the conference, Marika Andersen.
Bellona Europa Director Jonas Helseth noted that “public acceptance is a shared challenge for all climate actions – what we need is public and civil society support. Support for acting!” It was, however, very interestingly raised that public engagement in CCS projects should be seen as an opportunity and not a barrier to action.
Bellona Europa hopes to develop this conference into an annual event, as carbon-negative solutions deserve much more attention than they currently receive.