Britain’s climate change envoy has said energy-starved Bangladesh could lobby donor partners to finance coal-fired power stations that are part of the first wave of “carbon capture and storage” (CCS), a means of mitigating the effect of fossil fuel emissions on global warming, reports UNB.
John Ashton, who acts as the British foreign secretary’s special representative for climate change, believes it is “clearly not reasonable” to expect countries like Bangladesh to bear the additional costs that arise from implementing the technology for CCS, but that the funds becoming available to tackle climate change in the form of “fast-track funds” can be used to finance “one of the first demonstrations of CCS” in the world here.
“That would be an interesting proposition to make to the World Bank, DFID. I would encourage it, I would do what I can to support it,” said Mr Ashton, who has been actively involved in climate change issues for almost 15 years now.
While acknowledging the supply of electricity to meet rising demand as a “particular bottleneck” for the Bangladesh economy, Mr Ashton would not lose sight of the fact that coal is “right at the heart of the problem” as far as climate change is concerned. According to him, countries face two choices for a sustainable future: either stop using coal, or move towards technologies that will “make coal carbon-neutral”.
CCS is part of the second choice, and with Bangladesh sitting on top of 2.5 billion tonnes of high quality coal in its northern districts, may contain the answer to unlocking some of the obstacles that have stood in the way of many coal-based projects getting off the ground.
Mark Muller, an experienced mining geophysicist, carried out an independent technical review of the country’s coal reserves recently that put the total figure between 3.2 and 4.7 billion tonnes. Some say that is enough to serve the energy needs of the country for the next fifty years. But a lack of vision and political commitment has held back the development of this abundant resource.
Well into its third year now, the present government has still not finalised a new national coal policy to replace the provisions in the national energy policy formulated by the last BNP-led government in 2004, even though it has consistently said that it is close to doing so.
Mr Ashton, who was talking to the media on the second day of his first visit to Bangladesh on Friday, believes that with CCS, a way to move forward with coal-based projects that deals with the argument that they contribute to global warming, has opened itself up for the country.
“The technology is proven, it’s just that they haven’t been combined with power generation on an industrial scale. But it’s not something that’s over the horizon. As long as the geological conditions are there to support CCS, we know how to do it,” Mr Ashton said.