July 19, 2021

Cate Bonacini,
Tamra Gilbertson,
Collin Rees,

Over 500 Organizations Call on U.S. and Canadian Leaders to Reject Carbon Capture and Storage as a False Solution to Climate Crisis

Washington, DC / Ottawa, ON — In an open letter sent today to leaders in the United States and Canada, more than 500 US, Canadian, and international organizations called on policymakers in both countries to reject Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) as dangerous distractions and to end the “carbon capture of climate policy.” To raise public awareness of the growing threat of CCS at a time when lawmakers in both countries are proposing massive subsidies for a sweeping buildout of carbon capture technologies, key messages and demands from the letter were published as full-page advertisements in DC’s Washington Post and Ottawa’s Hill Times newspapers.

The organizations’ message is clear: carbon capture is unnecessary, ineffective, exceptionally risky, and at odds with the needed energy transition and the principles of environmental justice. “Carbon capture and storage is not a climate solution,” the groups say. “It is a dangerous distraction driven by the same big polluters who created the climate emergency.”

“We don’t need to fix fossil fuels; we need to ditch them,” signatories said. Sinking public funds into CCS technology, they warn, only prolongs reliance on fossil fuels and delays their replacement with cheaper renewable energy alternatives. Worse still, captured carbon drives more oil production through enhanced oil recovery, contributing to the very climate crisis the technology purports to solve.

“CCS just makes dirty energy more expensive and energy-intensive,” the groups assert, and “more dangerous for frontline communities.” Echoing the conclusion of the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council that CCS will not benefit communities, the groups warn that carbon capture presents significant environmental, health, and safety risks, particularly for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities targeted for CO2 pipelines and storage.

The groups call on policymakers to: “Stop subsidizing CCS. Stop permitting CCS. Stop using CCS to justify climate inaction.”

“Instead of bankrolling CCS,” the letter declares, “public funds should be boosting sustainable, job-creating solutions to the climate crisis, for fossil-dependent workers and communities: phasing out oil, gas, and coal; investing in energy efficiency and non-combustion renewable energy sources; and protecting forests and other ecosystems that naturally capture and store carbon.”

Organizations among the more than 500 signatories include Center for International Environmental Law, Oil Change International, Center for Biological Diversity, Climate Justice Alliance, Environmental Defence Canada, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth US, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, Indigenous Environmental Network, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, and, and hundreds more representing grassroots, environmental health, climate activists, Indigenous Peoples, labor groups, faith communities, and businesses from across Canada and the United States.

Advertisements: The Washington Post and The Hill Times

Full text of the letters to policymakers:  U.S. letter and Canadian letter

Quote Sheet: 

“Carbon capture and storage isn’t just a colossal waste of money and an environmental justice disaster — it’s a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry and politicians unwilling to stand up to Big Oil and Gas. The desperate focus on false solutions like CCS is a dangerous distraction from the critical work of ending fossil fuel subsidies and winding down the fossil fuel era with a just transition,” said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International.

“Carbon capture is being used as a Trojan horse by oil and gas executives to continue, and even expand, fossil fuel production. It’s a dangerous distraction driven by the same polluters who created the climate emergency. The Government of Canada should not use any kind of financial support or tax incentive to prop up false climate solutions that only serve to delay the necessary transition off of fossil fuels.  Instead, we should be focused on real climate solutions including renewable energy and energy efficiency that are job-creating, safe, affordable and ready to be deployed,” said Julia Levin, Senior Climate and Energy Program Manager at Environmental Defence Canada. 

“Carbon capture is an unproven technology, and there’s no certainty it will ever be economically feasible. It is downright dangerous to pin our hopes on such a speculative technology to address the dire climate emergency humanity already faces. The U.S. government should stop incentivizing this technology through the tax code, or funding a buildout of carbon capture infrastructure through the various infrastructure proposals under consideration,” said Basav Sen, Climate Policy Director at Institute for Policy Studies. 

“It’s simple: the world cannot meet its climate targets relying on carbon capture. The majority of CCS that exists is being used to extract more oil, ultimately driving more climate pollution. There is only one winner when it comes to these unproven and costly technologies: fossil fuel companies, who are trying to cash in on the climate emergency while being propped up with government handouts. The Biden administration must say enough is enough, and prioritize real climate solutions, good green jobs, and the health of our communities over the interests of polluters’ profits,” said Zorka Milin, Senior Policy Advisor at Global Witness.

“Industrial carbon capture utilization and storage is a false solution to this global climate crisis.  Once again, Black, Indigenous and poor communities will be sacrificed just to ensure profit for polluting industries.  We must reset our priorities to put people before profit. Let’s choose to use this moment to put people to work toward a healthy, safe and equitable future,” said Colette Pichon Battle, Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy and National Lead for the Red, Black & Green New Deal at the Movement for Black Lives.

“Incentivizing carbon capture is simply throwing a lifeline to the fossil fuel industry, when we need to be throwing a lifeline to the planet. The US government has already spent billions of dollars on carbon capture to no end. Continuing to do so is throwing good money after bad; diverting resources that could be put to use actually confronting our climate crisis. We demand Congress to end support of carbon capture and invest in truly renewable energy,” said Mitch Jones, Policy Director at Food & Water Watch.

“Why are Senate Democrats putting Big Oil talking points into policy at the expense of frontline communities already overburdened with pollution? When it comes to CCS and the harms that would result from this polluter gimmick, the Administration should heed the recommendations from its own White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council,” said Sarah Lutz, Climate Campaigner at Friends of the Earth. 

“We can’t burn our way out of the climate crisis. CCS technologies are being touted as a magic bullet for capturing the carbon from burning any kind of fuel — including woody biomass. This ignores the other harmful health and environmental impacts along every step of the fuel production chain, particularly in low-income communities of color where wood pellet production facilities and biomass power plants are disproportionately sited. There is a much better way of capturing carbon and effectively storing it while safeguarding the health of our communities — it’s called letting our forests grow,” said Laura Haight, U.S. Policy Director at Partnership for Policy Integrity. 

“Driving up more funding for carbon capture technology is a subsidy for the fossil fuel industry. Oil, coal and gas will use these funds to build out more pipelines and concentrate fossil fuel pollution on already impacted Indigenous nations and environmental justice communities. Billions of dollars for carbon capture essentially redirects money away from renewable energy like solar and wind. We do not have time and money to waste on more questionable carbon capture infrastructure,” said Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director at Indigenous Environmental Network. 

“Promoting dangerous carbon capture and storage is just one more way a dying fossil fuel industry is trying to save itself at the expense of our climate and communities. We don’t have time or money to waste on fossil fuel deception in a climate emergency. Instead of propping up dirty energy, we need to focus on proven clean energy solutions like solar and wind,” said Victoria Bogdan Tejeda, Staff Attorney at Center for Biological Diversity. 

“Carbon capture technology is still in the early stages of development and not at a scale necessary to curtail the climate crisis. It is being used by industry and governments as a diversion to avoid addressing the climate crisis in a timely way using proven green technology,” said Dr. Randi Pokladnik of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. 

“Carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies are false solutions that perpetuate and exacerbate existing burdens for frontline communities. They enable the perpetuation of toxic emissions along with very real potential risks of environmental damage is a glaring red flag for lawmakers. For Latino/a/x and other disproportionately pollution burdened communities, continued investment in carbon capture technology and subsidies amounts to a continuation of a long history of environmental injustice. We call on Congress to stop investing in CCS and instead focus investments on energy efficiency and renewables that facilitate a transition to a lower carbon and pollution-free future,” said Lydia Cardona, Climate and Clean Air Program Manager at GreenLatinos.

“The climate crisis is upon us, it’s impacting every facet of our lives as well as taking far too many lives in its perilous process. Unfortunately, far too many of our lawmakers have become ensorcelled with profligate and unproven mechanisms to address the climate crisis including so-called carbon capture technology. These false solutions are the latest climate disinformation campaign by fossil fuel cartels and their political acolytes to beguile the people at a time when we need to scale up and scale out proven solutions rooted in frontline and Indigenous wisdom. Worse yet, these lawmakers, including Administrator McCarthy, are ignoring the voices and recommendations of leading Environmental Justice practitioners, including those who sit on the President’s White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council, who have stated emphatically that they don’t want these false solutions in their communities. It must, therefore, be stated lucidly that support for CCS is an exacerbation of environmental racism, an affront on Tribal/Indigenous sovereignty, and nothing more than a perverse lifeline to industries that profit off of death and calamity, said Anthony Rogers-Wright, Director of Environmental Justice at New York Lawyers for the Public Interest. 

“False promises abound as big business salivates over the money to be made in appearing to care about the climate crisis that they created. The push for Carbon Capture and Storage is just another example of corporate controlled mechanisms being promoted as solutions when they actually cause harm to communities and the planet and have not been proven to do what needs to be done to address climate change — reduce emissions at source. If the fossil fuel and gas industries really want to atone for their sins they should immediately abandon this market- based scheme and fund truly renewable and regenerative community controlled approaches to a Just Transition, not ones that sacrifice frontline communities, yet again,” said a representative for the Climate Justice Alliance. 

“CCS is life support for the fossil fuel industry — and a death sentence for the planet. We need to ditch fossil fuels, not ‘fix’ them with technologies that are dangerous, costly, unproven at scale, and at odds with environmental justice. Rather than bankroll the buildout of massive and risky CCS infrastructure on top of polluting industries, policymakers should finance the future, by replacing fossil fuels with renewables and creating sustainable jobs,” said Nikki Reisch, Director of the Climate & Energy Program at the Center for International Environmental Law.