This scientific opinion responds to a request from the European Commission formulated by Commissioner Cañete (Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy) and addresses the climate mitigation potential of the suite of technologies that capture CO2 from industrial processes or from the air and which convert it into fuels, chemicals and materials, also known as carbon capture and utilisation or CCU.
The rationale behind the study is the need to develop tools and technologies to reduce CO2 emission to keep global warming during this century well below 2°C. This corresponds to the commitment which the European Union and its Member States took in the context of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The opinion draws on the best available scientific and technical evidence from across Europe gathered in an evidence review report produced by SAPEA, an independent Horizon 2020-funded consortium of European scientific academy networks. The opinion concludes that for CCU to contribute to climate change mitigation, the energy used in CO2 conversion must be of low carbon origin. In addition, and because the converted carbon may be held in the product for a variable amount of time and not always permanently, assessment of the climate mitigation potential of the technologies also depends on a life cycle assessment (LCA) approach which takes into account the fate of carbon once released from the product. Moreover, the opinion recommends that the European Commission develops a regulatory and investment framework to enable the deployment of CCU technologies; and a methodology to allow the calculation of the climate mitigation potential of CCU applications, which is also rolled out beyond the EU.