* China, EU among those wanting stress on risks of
* Extracting carbon untested as climate fix, many say
* U.N. panel meets to issue report on slowing climate change
By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent
OSLO, April 8 Many nations want a draft U.N.
report to tone down prospects for sucking greenhouse gases from
the air to help fix global warming, reckoning the technologies
are risky, documents seen by Reuters show.
Government officials and scientists are meeting in Berlin
this week to edit the report, which says time is running out to
keep warming below an agreed ceiling of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6
Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial times.
The study, focused on solutions to climate change, is meant
to guide almost 200 governments in preparing a U.N. pact due by
the end of 2015 to curb rising emissions and help limit heat
waves, floods, droughts and rising seas.
China, the European Union, Japan and Russia were among
nations saying the draft, to be published on Sunday, should do
more to stress uncertainties about technologies that the report
says could be used to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere
and bury it below ground to limit warming.
Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) "technologies are currently not
available and would be associated with high risks and adverse
side-effects," the German government said in a comment on the
draft by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
"There are no CDR technologies by now," Russia said. The
technologies would go far beyond the traditional focus on
cutting emissions from burning coal, oil or natural gas.
Several nations were especially sceptical about the draft's
mention of stripping greenhouse gases from
electricity-generating facilities burning biomass - wood or
other plants - to bury them underground as a way to extract
carbon from nature.
Plants soak up carbon as they grow and release it when they
rot or burn. Chemicals can extract carbon from the exhaust fumes
from burning crop waste, for instance, or from fermentation of
corn to make ethanol.
Among projects, Archer Daniels Midland Co has a
facility in Illinois to inject 333,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide
a year into the ground from a factory producing ethanol from
corn. Husky Energy in Canada produces carbon dioxide
from ethanol for injection into oil wells.
Many nations said that the draft should do more to mention
drawbacks of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS),
such as the amount of land needed to grow plants and risks that
it would compete with food production.
Internal IPCC documents show that China said BECCS "bears
great uncertainties". Japan said that "considerations of
trade-offs with water, land and biodiversity are crucial to
avoid adverse effects" with CDR technologies.
A sub-chapter of the report says that BECCS has the
theoretical potential to extract up to 10 billion tonnes a year
of carbon dioxide from nature - roughly equivalent to China's
carbon emissions - but would cost between $60 and $250 a tonne.
Other methods for extracting greenhouse gases from the
atmosphere include simply planting trees or fertilising the
oceans to promote the growth of algae, hoping that the tiny
carbon-rich plants would fall to the seabed when they die.
Among other debates in Berlin on Tuesday, delegates said
that Saudi Arabia, the world's top oil exporter, objected to a
line in the report pointing out that fossil fuels were the
overwhelming cause of rising emissions in the past decade.
(Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Tom Heneghan)