Global Warming Expert: $800 Billion a Year for Carbon Capture

October 25th, 2007 5:45 PM

If you thought doing your part in waging the war against global warming was as simple as attending one of Al Gore’s mid-summer “Live Earth” concerts, think again.

One of the authors of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Carbon Capture and Storage, Dr. Ken Caldeira, said on September 5 at the annual conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists there “would be an annual expense of perhaps $800 billion to capture carbon from centralized power plant,” as reported by Bud Ward, editor of The Yale Forum on Climate Change & The Media.

Caldeira said his 2005 IPCC Report estimated a cost of about $100 per ton of carbon (not just carbon dioxide) for carbon capture and storage costs in ideal locations.

“We put out about 8 billion tons of carbon each year from all sources, globally,” Caldeira told the Business & Media Institute. “Preventing emissions from some sources will be much cheaper than $100 per ton and from other sources much more expensive, but $100 per ton [of] carbon is a reasonable ballpark estimate for an average.”

It’s a matter of simple mathematics according to Caldeira.
“So, that $800 billion comes from multiplying the 8 billion tons per year emission times the $100 per ton ballpark price,” Caldeira said.
Caldeira admitted it was “not a precise number.”

“Less than the cost of medical care, and a bit less than the global military budget, but still a lot of money,” Caldeira said at the September 5 conference. “We could do it, but it's a major investment.”

Based on world population estimates of 6.6 billion people, the share of each man, woman and child would be $121 a year to capture and store carbon from power plants alone. Of course, it’s likely the United States would be expected to carry a large share of that cost.