Carbon dioxide removal is the process of removing carbon pollution from the atmosphere via natural and technological methods, and will be an important tool for restoring a safe climate — once we’ve pretty much stopped sending more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Carbon capture and storage/sequestration (CCS), on the other hand, refers to scrubbing the carbon dioxide out of the emissions from fossil fuel plants, and is essentially a pipe dream that the fossil fuel industry invokes to pretend its continued existence is compatible with a stable climate, which it’s not. CCS is also a major part of the policy platforms of conservatives who want you to think they care about climate change (but not enough to actually reduce fossil fuel extraction or pollution).
Late last year, the Government Accountability Office published a report showing the $1.1 billion spent on CCS by the Department of Energy since 2009 was largely wasted. That money was for 11 projects, of which only three were built (the other eight were cancelled). And because managers at the DOE waived some cost controls, the government spent an additional and unnecessary $300 million on four of the unbuilt CCS projects. The single CCS project at a coal-fired plant that actually got built was the US’s only real CCS facility — and it shut down in May of 2020.
“Federal investments for CCS are greenwashing – they are simply fossil fuel subsidies by another name,” Grassroots Global Justice Alliance policy director Adrien Salazar told The Verge.