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UN May Approve Carbon Capture and Storage for Offset Projects

United Nations climate envoys are set to approve carbon capture and storage projects in the developing world as offsets for companies in industrial nations that are striving to meet their greenhouse-gas emissions targets.

Draft conclusions by delegates give two options for inclusion of the projects in the UN’s CDM, or Clean Development Mechanism, the world’s second-biggest carbon market, worth $2.7 billion last year. Both options would allow the technology to be deployed, providing concerns about leakage, legal liability, environmental effects and measurement are met.

Carbon capture and storage, or CCS, is an experimental technology that has yet to be proven. It would siphon off carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and factories and pump the gas underground for permanent storage. CO2 emissions are blamed for damaging the atmosphere. Decisions about whether to include the technology in the CDM have been delayed for at least two years because of questions about whether CCS will work and whether it’s suitable for developing countries.

“The fossil-fuel industry has plenty of money of its own,” the environmental group Greenpeace said in an e-mailed statement. “It doesn’t need to steal money meant to get renewable energy to the poorest countries, which is exactly what promoting CCS into the CDM would not only allow, but actively sponsor.”

Proponents of the technology, including Norway, the U.K. and Saudi Arabia, have said it will allow countries to keep using fossil fuel while ensuring greenhouse gases aren’t spewed into the atmosphere, where they trap heat and feed global warming.

The draft conclusions are still subject to debate and must be approved by a closing meeting of delegates at UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico on Dec. 10.

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