The Instigator
Pro (for)
6 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

ODT: Carbon capture and storage should not be required.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/19/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,795 times Debate No: 24780
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (2)




Carbon capture and storage (or carbon capture and sequestration, CCS) is the process of collecting the carbon dioxide emissions from a fossil fuel power plant or other large industrial facility and storing the CO2 so it does not enter the atmosphere. Some general background is given in a Wikipedia article [1.].

This debate is about whether the costs of CCS outweigh the benefits. The debate is to be judged on the preponderance of evidence for one side or the other. The scope of the debate is limited to large point sources of CO2.

This debate is in the DDO Official Debate Tournament 1. [2.]

Thanks to my opponent for taking up this topic. As far as I know, it hasn't been debated before on this site.


This opening round is for definitions and acceptance only. I will give the Pro case at the start of the second round.

Standard debate conventions apply. I list them here for the benefit of new debaters and readers. I believe there is nothing tricky or eccentric. Both sides agree to the following rules, and that violating the rules is a conduct violation, with anything contrary to the rules to be ignored by readers judging the debate:

DR 1. All arguments must be made in the debate. Evidence may be cited or linked from the debate, but only in support of arguments made in the debate. Arguments made in Comments are to be ignored.

DR 2. Source links or references must be included within the 8000 characters per round limit of the debate. No links or sources are permitted in comments.

DR 3 Any term not specifically defined before use is to be taken with the ordinary dictionary definition of the term that best fits the context of the debate. The definitions given in the challenge stand as a condition of acceptance.

DR 4. No new arguments shall be made in Round 4. Arguments and evidence may be presented in R4 in rebuttal to any previous argument, but no new arguments are allowed.

DR 5. DDO site rules always apply. Neither side may add or modify rules for the debate once the challenge is accepted.

DR 6. Dropped arguments are not immediately counted as concessions. They may be taken up again or left to be judged as part of the case.



Many thanks for RoyLatham for initiating this debate.

All of us share a single planet. While science fiction enthusiasts may disagree, this is the only planet we have got for foreseeable future. It is important for us to manage our resources wisely and to dispose wastes in a sustainable manner, so that we can pass on a beautiful planet to the next generation.

To take informed decisions about our future, we need knowledge about technologies available to us. Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) is an important technology which is not very well known by general public. We hope that this debate will serve to enhance the awareness of our dear readers.

Pro will argue that the benefits obtained from large scale deployment of CCS are not worth the costs for the foreseeable future. The Pro position does not deny further research into the technology.

Con will argue that CCS technology is already good enough for us to move ahead with gradual and mandatory deployment at industries which produce large amount of CO2 (such as Thermal Power Plants). Con position does not imply that we should switch over to the new technology overnight.

Waiting for opening arguments from my esteemed opponent.
Debate Round No. 1


If the United States immediately began phasing in carbon capture and storage, the maximum potential is to reduce 3 degrees of global warming by 0.1 degree, at the expense of increasing the cost of generating electric power from coal by at least 50%. It's better to focus on nuclear power, adapting to climate change, and spending more on climate engineering research.

1. CCS would provide negligible reductions in global warming

The total world production of carbon dioxide in 2011 was about 30,398 million tonnes. of which the United States accounts for 5424 million tonnes. [3. ] 27% of the total U.S. emissions is from electric power generation, 1464 million tonnes. CCS has the potential to reduce emissions by 90%, 1317 million tonnes.

There is agreement among CO2 alarmists and skeptics that carbon dioxide has a logarithmic effect on global temperature. That means that if doubling CO2 concentrations produces a certain temperature increase, then doubling it again would produce the same increase. If the effect were linear, it would be four times the increase rather than just twice. The controversy in climate change is over climate sensitivity, which is the amount of warming to be expected from doubling CO2 .

In the last hundred years, CO2 concentrations have increased from 280 ppm to 396 ppm, and temperatures have risen 0.74 degree C. In the decade from 2000 -2009, CO2 levels increased by about 2 ppm. [4.] If the past hundred years reflects climate sensitivity, with causes other than CO2 canceling out over the period, then climate sensitivity is about 1.5 degree per doubling of CO2 . Skeptics claim that the earth has been warming due to natural causes since the end of the Little Ice Age in the early 1800s, so climate sensitivity is probably less than 1.5 degrees C. The IPCC Report, cited as authoritative by CO2 alarmists, claims “[climate sensitivity] is likely to be in the range of 2 to 4.5 °C, with a best estimate of about 3 °C.” [5.\]

Let's start assuming climate sensitivity of 3 degrees. Application of CCS reduces CO2 emissions by at best 4.33%. Assuming that starts immediately and is maintained, instead of CO2 doubling it would rise to 1.956 of its starting value. So instead of getting 3 degrees of temperature rise, we would get 3 * log (1.956) / (log 2) degrees = 2.90 degrees.

The 0.1 degree projection is too optimistic. No large scale CCS facilities have ever been built. The technology has to be perfected, the costs lowered, and the capital costs of implementation absorbed. Retrofitting CCS is very expensive, so as a practical matter it will probably only be added to new power plants. Plants have a life of about 50 years, so if the technology is ready in 10 years and takes 50 years to phase in, perhaps half the CO2 savings might be achieved. Also, the U.S. contribution as a percentage of the total world

It's not going to be substantially easier to cope with 2.9 degrees of temperature increase rather than 3 degrees. If skeptics are right, then the difference might be 0.97 degrees rather than 1 degree.

But might the whole world follow the U.S. example and implement CCS? It's not likely because it's a pure extra cost. Perhaps Europe could be convinced, but that only yields another 0.08 degree. Developing countries cannot afford the technology, as discussed below.

2. The Cost Makes CCS Impractical

The costs of CSS include adding the equipment to new power plant, the reduction in power output that results (about 10%), transporting the CO2 (by pipeline). and storage of the CO2 (by injecting into underground brine). Adding the costs together, an M.I.T. study "found that carbon dioxide capture increases the busbar electricity cost (COE) from 5.0 to 6.7 ¢/kWh at IGCC plants, from 4.4 to 7.7 ¢/kWh at PC plants, and, finally, from 3.3 to 4.9 ¢/kWh at NGCC plants." [6.]

Currently, nearly all power from coal uses pulverized coal (PC). A new technology converts the coal to gas then burns the gas. CCS cost more to apply to pulverized coal plants, by the newer gasification technology (IGCC) has a higher cost for the plant. The bottom line is that coal power generation costs rise by about 50%. This has been confirmed by multiple studies. “a 2007 study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University estimated that, compared to an IGCC plant without CCS, a new IGCC plant built with CCS that captured 90 percent of CO2 emissions would produce electricity at a 42 percent higher levelized cost” [7.]

Developing countries are unlikely to spend more on power generation than necessary. for example, China, now the largest emitter of co2, has made only vague promises to reduce emissions "per unit of GDP" -- in other words only to improve efficiency. [8.]

3. Nuclear, Adaptation, and Climate Engineering are Better Alternatives

Nuclear power has no carbon emissions. About 75% cost of nuclear power lies in the construction of the plant. The main thing that affects construction costs are delays in the permitting process, which ties up capital. In the most famous case in the U.S., the nuclear power plant in Shoreham, New York was completely constructed when the State decided at the last minute to prevent it from going into operation. The entire investment was lost. With the government regulatory risk, investors demand extra compensation.

The basic cost of nuclear power is about 3 ¢/kWh. [9. ] That can be achieved if construction costs are kept to $1500 per kW. Australia and China are figuring nuclear costs at those levels. As a consequence of the regulatory problems in the U.S., construction may be as high as $3500 per kW. That implies a generation cost of about 6 ¢/kWh, still cheaper than coal with CCS. To reduce carbon emissions, the focus should be on reducing the nuclear costs.

If CCS is considered a good investment, then nuclear is a better investment. With a better regulatory system, nuclear is even cheaper than coal without CCS. That would phase out carbon emissions with a cost savings.

Most of the world's fossil fuel is consumed in as liquid fuel for transportation, which is not subject to carbon capture. If coal generated power were made prohibitively expensive by a carbon capture requirement, then a likely avenue would be to convert the coal to liquid fuel for use in transportation, and let nuclear take over for power generation. that would evade CCS.

Instead of attempting to control about 4.3% of CO2emissions with CCS, much more money ought to be invested in research on climate engineering. Climate engineering techniques encompass a variety of methods for cooling the planet a whole. A panel of international experts recently cited a paper on the potential of climate engineering,

Current government policy focuses on reducing carbon emissions, but Bickel and Lane's report says that even if these reductions begin, it could take hundreds of years for the climate to stabilize — a scenario that's troubling to scientists who warn that the climate may contain "tipping points" that, once crossed, trigger large and irreversible changes to the Earth. ...Climate engineering holds the potential to limit warming, and it's also the only technology that could possibly cool the Earth quickly enough if needed. So it plays an important risk management role." [10.]

CCS is expensive and largely symbolic. Nuclear power is cheaper, and reseach on climate engineering is a better use of limited funds.

The resolution is affirmed.



From an economic point of view, why are pollution, global warming and climate change such big problems. The problem is that they are negative externality of industrial operations [1]. The idea is that the cost of pollution is paid by the world community; where as the entity which indulges in pollution reaps immediate benefits. The best economic solution would be where the polluter has to pay the cost of clean up as well.

Thermal power plants (TPP) account for a large proportion of CO2 pollution as they burn large amount of fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide (CO2) capture and storage (CCS) is a process consisting of the separation of CO2 from industrial and energy-related sources, transport to a storage location and long-term isolation from the atmosphere. CCS is a neat idea which can reduce fossil fuel emission from thermal power plants by over 90% [3]. It also internalizes the cost of clean up into cost of power production using TPPs. Whatever is the cost of power production today, it does not include the cost of cleaning up the atmosphere later on. If that cost is also considered as part of production of power, CCS will definitely turn out to much cheaper.

The status of CCS was raised dramatically in 2005, when IPCC found CCS to be fundamentally feasible scheme and argued for research to fill in the gaps in the knowledge [4]. Since then lots of progress has taken place in this field making it one of the foremost tools to tackle global warming. International Energy Agency (IEA) prepared a target of converting 30% of power using fossil fuel to CCS by 2040 [5]. In December 2011, 7th session of Kyoto Protocol accepted CCS as the major mechanism for reducing global emission and worked on its modalities [6]. Coal Utilization Research Council expects that CCS technology will cost less than conventional method by 2025[7]. In its roadmap CURC lists at least 12 CCS projects which are under development in United States alone [8].

== Rebuttals ==

Roy relies on some rough back of the envelope calculation to argue against CCS. The calculations actually bolster my case, once some questionable assumptions are addressed.

Negligible reduction in global warming: Effects of global warming will be felt across the globe. The whole world will have to naturally work together in mitigation effort. Roy assumes that this is a United States policy debate and tries to prove implementation of CCS in United States will have negligible effect on global warming. He succeeds in doing the opposite.
As per his calculations, United States can achieve (1317/5424)*100 ~= 24% reduction in emissions by using CCS alone. This is no mean achievement.

24% reduction in emission by US amounts to (1317/30398)*100 ~ 4.5% reduction in global emission. This is also a large amount once it is considered that this reduction would be the contribution of United States alone, by only working with thermal power plants.

Pro correctly points out the effect of CO2 increase on global temperature may not be linear. Some extremely approximate calculations are used to argue that by the time global temperature rise by 3.0 degrees Celsius, CCS would have reduced it by 0.1 degree Celsius. Pro ignores the fact that effect of temperature rise on our planet may be exponential. However we will ignore that for the moment.

However even this is significant once we consider that this is the contribution of United States alone. Let us extend this calculation to rest of world.

Globally, power generation accounts for 10 billion tonnes of carbon emission [9]. If we can save half of this through CCS, the savings will be of 5 billion tonnes. Adapting my opponent’s calculations:

Percentage saving in emission = (5 / 30)*100 ~ 16.7%
Over an unspecified period, instead of doubling carbon rises by 1.83
Increase in temperature ~ 3*log(1.83)/log(2) ~ 2.6 degree celcius.

The savings are indeed significant.

Cost makes CCS impractical: As per study presented by my opponent:

...carbon dioxide capture increases the busbar electricity cost (COE) from 5.0 to 6.7 ¢/kWh at IGCC plants, from 4.4 to 7.7 ¢/kWh at PC plants, and, finally, from 3.3 to 4.9 ¢/kWh at NGCC plants.

There are two factors to be considered.
  1. This is the extra cost based on current technology. A major factor which is contributing to cost is that this technology is relatively new. As per CURC the cost of energy production using CCS is likely to level off with conventional production by 2025.
  2. The cost of. CCS internalizes the cost of pollution. If the cost of removing CO2 from atmosphere is factored into cost of conventional production, CCS will turn out to extremely inexpensive.
CCS does not come free. However considering the benefits offered by this technology, CCS offers value for money.
Pro uses weird and old argument that 'China' would never do it. Let us get thing straight. We are talking about global warming. Major global players will have to work together on this issue. If United States and China, both use 'they won’t do it' excuse to wriggle out of any action, no efforts to mitigate effect of global warming are going to succeed. Pro should not be allowed to use such arguments in this debate.

3. Nuclear, Adaptation, and Climate Engineering are Better Alternatives: Pro throws in major red herrings into the debate.
There is no doubt that nuclear power is a good option. However there are some major problems with using nuclear power to replace fossil fuels.

I accept that nuclear power poses very little risk if proper safety precautions are taken from design stage itself. However the human and economic cost of accidents is disproportionately high. If the cost of accident relief is internalized into production cost, nuclear may not remain a very feasible option.
  • If Pro is urging for world-wide adoption of nuclear power, nuclear technology will have to be given to large number of countries. This could be problematic.
  • In case of world-wide adoption it is possible that the safety standards will go down, increasing the risk of accident.
  • After the Fukushima Daiichi accident in Japan, there has been huge political opposition to nuclear power. This makes widespread adoption unfeasible.
  • If Pro is arguing for adoption of nuclear power by United States only, his own calculations can be used to show that the impact on global scale would be negligible.
Pro mentions adaptation, however he fails to explain what he means by it. He mentions research into climate engineering. While I do support further research; as an old parable goes, 'a bird in hand, is worth two in bush'. Pro offers no evidence that any solution which may be offered by climate engineering is likely to be less expensive.

If the only alternative which Pro can offer is nuclear, that makes my case for world-wide adoption of CCS stronger. We can always adopt both nuclear and CCS options to reduce emissions.

== References ==

Debate Round No. 2


Global Perspective

People concerned about global warming tend not to talk about global warming, but rather about carbon. The question is if we spend X billion dollars inhibiting carbon, how many degrees of global warming are claimed to be prevented?

CCS requires spending a substantial amount of money, effectively increasing the cost of generating electricity by about 50%. The question for our debate is whether the cost is worthwhile. Since we don't know the costs of global warming, let's consider three scenarios:

1. CO2 is responsible for most of global warming, and the warming looms as a potential world disaster. If this is true, then using CCS will not make enough difference to mitigate the problem substantially. We might get 2.9 degrees of warming rather than degrees. that's because most CO2 emissions are from mobile use, heating, and small industrial facilities. Climate engineering, however, has the potential of solving the problem.

2. Most of global warming is natural, not CO2 induced, but still looms as a potential disaster. If so, CCS is a waste of money because reducing CO2 won't help. Climate engineering is then the only method that would solve the problem.

3. Global warming, whether from CO2 or natural causes, is not so severe as to require global action. People will adapt to increased warmth. If so, we shouldn't spend money on CCS.

These are not the only possible scenarios. We might face natural cooling or there might be new technology that offers other possibilities. But these three will suffice to discuss CCS.

In the first scenario, I have made the claim that CCS won't do much good, and we'll argue that in more detail. However, notice that climate engineering proves the only means to avert disaster if the second scenario is the correct one. Moreover, everyone seems to agree that climate engineering methods are relatively cheap. The problem is that they have risks, and we don't know what will be most effective. Because CCS isn't ready to implement widely yet and is only practical when implemented in a new power plant and power plants have a life of 50 years, the CCS alternative isn't going to have a measurable effect for 50 years. That means that if climate engineering can be made practical in 50 years, we will be well ahead on solving the larger climate problem. Therefore, money should be spent on research in climate engineering instead.

Global warming is not like air pollution

The resolution doesn't say who should require CCS if it is required. Because it is so expensive, it's extremely unlikely that it could be required in any place other than the US and Europe. But if it were required in the developing world, the economic effects would pose an immediate disaster. It would means diverting scarce resources away from food production, infrastructure development, education, health, and other critical needs into the profitless task of burying carbon. It won't happen because it shouldn't happen.

Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant in the conventional sense. It doesn't cause anyone to get sick nor does it do any direct damage to anyone's property. Increased CO2 helps plants grow and warming is an economic benefit to countries with cold climates. We don't know how much the extra CO2 in the environment would cost, so there is no grounds for claiming it ought to be treated like a pollutant that makes people sick. If electric generating costs are increased by 50% due to CCS, those costs will be born by the users of the electricity. That's nearly everyone. If there is a cost effect of climate change, it will also be born by a very large population, generally less in the tropics and more in temperate zones. So shifting costs to electricity users does little, especially because the CCS costs are high and the climate costs are unknown.

If we are concerned about potential costs of CO2-induced warming, then we ought to use the cheapest method possible to treat them. For example, we have seven billion humans on earth each exhaling CO2 24/7. So why not require each person to exhale into a balloon and turn the balloon in for proper disposal each day. That's ridiculous, of course, but why? It's because the expense of requiring each person to do that is excessive for the small benefit obtained. It my be fair and just to charge each person for their alleged damage to the environment, but it's not the practical way to solve the overall problem. CCS has a similar problem. It costs too much to accomplish too little.

CCS would provide negligible reductions in global warming

Con claims that despite the costs, CCS can be effectively imposed on the entire world. If so, he calculates that a potential 3 degrees of global warming can be reduced to 2.6 degrees. Con claims that 0.4 degree savings from 3 degrees is significant, but I don't see why 13% less warming would make an appreciable difference in coping with the warming. However, if CCS were imposed on large power plants, the extra cost would likely cause people to respond by building smaller power plants to evade the requirement.

The Cost Makes CCS Impractical

Con objects that the costs I cited assume present technology. They do not, they are projections of what the costs will be if the technology is perfected and widely implemented. The references make that clear. The current costs are several times higher.

Moreover, because the technology is in it's infancy there are risks that may drive up the cost. Organic chemist Dr. James Singmaster says, "The plants and the pipelines will be an easy terrorist target with just a stick or two of dynamite to cause a major escape and/or fire taking perhaps taking more lives that the Sept. 11 attack. A second factor that may lead to never-ending NIMBY [not in my backyard] protests is the odor of the capering chemicals. Tons of highly flammable chemicals are used and will be getting into the venting smoke of the coal fires that will be be cleaned of the carbon dioxide but be emitting odors." [11.]

Con cites a Wikipedia article that gives costs as high or higher than my sources.

Con claims that the cost of CO2 in the environment is higher than the cost of carbon capture. He provides no data to support that claim. I believe that it's not possible to quantify the costs in the environment because we do not know how much warming is caused by CO2, we don't know the cost of coping with a warmer climate, and we don't know the incremental cost of coping with, say, 3 degrees rather than 2.9 or 2.6 degrees. Therefore, if we are concerned about global warming we ought to focus on the most cost-effective alternatives.

Nuclear, Adaptation, and Climate Engineering are better alternatives

Alternatives are not irrelevant because we are debating a resolution that says we should impose CCS regardless of cost or economic effect. I question the feasibility of extending the mandate to countries that cannot afford it, but Con persists that it should be done regardless. If we assume that things can be successfully mandated, then we ought to use that assumed power to mandate action as wisely as possible. Therefore its reasonable to propose that a cheaper alternative be used instead.

If nuclear power plants are properly sited away from population centers, the costs of potential accidents are minimized. The expected cost is also a function of the probability o an accident. The Fukushima accident was a result of a very old design. New facilities will use modern, safe, designs.

There is no objection to having nuclear power spread around the world, so long as there are safeguards against diversion for nuclear weapons development. If countries either refuse to agree to inspections or cannot be trusted then they must be included. That has no effect on CO2, because those countries aren't going to obey CCS mandates either.

I have discussed climate engineering as being the only feasible solution to whole problem. That's where the money should go.


Roy Latham is considered as the best debater at DDO. However this is not one of his best debates and he appears to be clearly distracted. In R3, he has ignored many of my arguments, dropped his own arguments and posted ‘quotes’ which are actually comments on some other blog. Reader will also notice that there appears to be no continuation between arguments made by him in R2 and R3.

== My arguments ==

My arguments were brief. However as they have been ignored by Pro, I will first recapitulate them.

  1. CCS internalizes cost of CO2 removal from atmosphere into production.

  2. CCS is technically feasible, as confirmed by organizations like IPCC, IEA and CURC.

  3. IEA is already working towards global adaptation. Countries which are part of Kyoto protocol have already accepted it, at least in principle. Modalities of global implementation are being worked out.

  4. It is projected to be as cheap as conventional method once the technology is widely accepted.

  5. Pilot projects are already being implemented worldwide, including 12 sites in United States. This is remarkable for a technology which only gained prominence in 2005.

== New arguments by Pro ==

Pro introduces a number of new arguments without any theme:

Global Warming / Cooling and its cause: Suddenly it turns out that Pro is not sure whether global warming is real and is caused by CO2 emission into atmosphere. This is just a cunning debate tactic. If we are debating economics of CCS, it should be obvious that we are concerned about global warming caused by CO2. There is no point in debating CCS, if my opponent believes that global cooling is going on. Note that Pro does not even specify what he believes in. He just tries to present all possibilities and inflate the scope of the debate.

There has been lots of research on the result of global warming [1]. Even the most optimistic ones sound eerie.

Unfortunately for my opponent, his lack of awareness of recent research makes his tactic worthless. Global warming is taking place and it is caused by burning of fossil fuel. This is the inescapable conclusion of a research conducted by Berkley Earth Group [2]. This is the conclusion of a team of 11 leading scientists including Robert Muller and Saul Perlmutter. Saul Perlmutter won the Nobel Prize for physics last year.

This paper is still under peer review process. There are no shortcuts in science. However it is obvious that this path breaking research has settled the debate on cause of global warming. I will argue the readers to read the New York Times article by Robert Muller [3] announcing key components of his team’s work.

Climate Engineering: Pro would like to invest as much as needed in ‘climate engineering’. I have no problem with further research. However rejecting a solution we already have in favor of an unknown solution which we don’t even know even exists is not rational. Pro not only assumes that a solution exists and will be found, he also assumes that the solution is going to be cheap and would solve all the problems all alone.

Too expensive to be globally accepted: Pro thinks that this technology will not be accepted globally. However he ignores the fact that it is already being globally accepted. He thinks only US and Europe would use it. As it turns out, lots of work on CCS is being done by China. [4]

Costs of CO2 unknown: There is no doubt that exact costs of removing CO2 emission are not known. However unknown costs does not mean no costs. Voters will agree with me that the cost is likely to be high. It is better to shift too CCS whose costs are comparatively well known.

I am not arguing for internalizing cost of CO2 removal just because it is fair. Internalizing cost is an essential component for any stable and pragmatic economic solution to the problem.

CO2 is not like a normal pollutant. However it may interest my opponent to study effects of global warming.

Balloon baloney: Pro offers an extremely non-serious alternative to CCS. Everyone should blow into balloon. However he fails to explain.

  1. Feasibility of scheme

  2. Cost of scheme

  3. How much of CO2 is emitted by human beings, and whether he plans to extend it to animals as well

  4. How he plans to dispose the balloons

Until he can present more serious proposal, voters are argued to ignore it as a juvenile attempt to derail a serious debate.

== Rebuttals ==

CCS would provide negligible reductions in global warming: Pro considers 13% reduction in temperature increase to be insignificant. It can be argued that this is significant since this is the contribution from a single industry.

I am not saying that CCS alone would solve all global warming problems. However it is clear that Pro is not having any better proposal at present from power industry.

The Cost Makes CCS Impractical: Pro wrongly asserts that the costs are projected future costs without providing any quotes. Here is the relevant quote from the article Pro quoted [5]

All studies were made using commercially available technology and include the cost of compressing the captured CO2 to about 100 atm for pipeline transportation. The results do not include cost of CO2 transportation and injection, which will add about $10/tonne of CO2 avoided.

Another problem is that this is a 1999/2000 paper. A lot has changed in this industry since then.

I admit that cost of coping with CO2 in environment is not precisely known. However my argument was that cost of CCS should not be compared to cost of conventional production directly. It should be compared with cost of production and the cost of removing the excess CO2 from atmosphere. The cost of CO2 damage to our environment is likely to be high.

To buttress his arguments Pro raises the issue of risk with CCS and it’s associated cost. Unfortunately he has posted ‘quotes’ which are actually comments on some other blog. There is no doubt that there are some risks associated with CCS also. However as per IPCC reports the risk associated are comparable to risk associated with current hydrocarbon activities. [6]

Nuclear, Climate engineering and adaptation: Pro has ignored most of my arguments against nuclear power and rather relies on few assertions. Pro asserts that if nuclear power is located away from population centre, the cost of accidents can be minimized. I agree, that is not feasible for many countries including India. Also that is not the only problem with nuclear power. I listed several problems, which Pro has ignored.

In any case, there is no reason why both CCS and nuclear cannot be used. There is no sense in debating nuclear power unless my opponent wants to take the extreme position that all methods of power production except nuclear should be abolished.

Pro blandly asserts that there is no problem to spread of nuclear power. This is clearly not true. The biggest problem is that the Pro’s own country refuses to trust a large part of globe. I do not want a full international politics dispute here. It should be clear to readers that while nuclear is controversial, CCS is being enthusiastically welcomed by everyone except my esteemed opponent.

Roy believes that climate engineering offers the only solution. Problem is, climate engineering has not got any solution at present.







Debate Round No. 3


Debate issues

Con says "Roy Latham is considered as the best debater at DDO. However this is not one of his best debates and he appears to be clearly distracted." I'll survive, but that's a personal attack and a conduct violation.

When anything is proposed as a requirement it's fair to argue if whatever is proposed is really required at all to treat a problem, if the new requirement will solve the problem, and if there are better, cheaper ways to solve the problem. I agreed at the outset that the climate is warming and that we ought to be concerned over the warming. There is a possibility that warming will not be so severe as to require any government action, I granted that indeed we ought take a cautious approach and prepare for a scenario of significant warming even though the amount of warming and how much of it is natural are in dispute.

Con seems to believe that the only legitimate grounds for supporting the resolution is that it is not technically feasible. Con says, "If we are debating economics of CCS, it should be obvious that we are concerned about global warming caused by CO2." No, there is no such implication. If the resolution were, "People should be required to arm themselves with silver bullets," it does not assume that everyone believes vampires exist, and it's only the feasibility of equipping people with silver bullets to kill them. One may deny a vampire problem or propose carrying garlic as a better means of protection.

I grant that CSS technology is feasible in the sense that no one doubts it is possible to build such facilities. I argue it is too expensive, does little to solve the problem, and that there are better ways to spend money to secure a solution.

1. CCS would provide negligible reductions in global warming

We have a point of agreement in that the maximum achieved by CCS, assuming alarmist projections of CO2 effects, is to lower 3 degrees of warming by 13%. It's actually much less, because even the high costs are only achieved when incorporating CCS into a new plant built from scratch. That means it will be 50 years before it is even half implemented.

Con argues that CCS ought to implemented because the costs, whatever they are, are assigned to the producer. I argued that power companies are not going to pay the costs, but rather the customers consuming electricity. The broad base of users therefore ought to be able to choose cheaper and better methods of fighting global warming.

I put forth the idea of requiring people to exhale into balloons and asked why the requirement would be ridiculous, which I clearly stated it was. If all we are allowed to consider is narrow technical feasibility and putting the burden on the source, then it should be a good method. The simple reason that it is ridiculous is that there re better, more practical methods, never mind the idea of burdening sources.

2. The Cost Makes CCS Impractical

Con claims that CSS is "projected to be as cheap as conventional method[s]." Okay, what are conventional methods and what do they cost? Con gives no quantitative estimates. My ref [6] projected costs to the current year, and ref [7] projected costs to future plants as being a 42% premium. Con's cost reference was a Wikipedia article that gave very similar estimates, saying "Capturing and compressing CO2 may increase the fuel needs of a coal-fired CCS plant by 25%-40%. These and other system costs are estimated to increase the cost of the energy produced by 21-91% for purpose built plants." (Note that the percentage increase would be lower if the initial power cost is high.) Those are clearly projections to future implementation.

There is nothing in the technology that's subject to dramatic technological innovation. It's pumps, chemicals, compressors, pipelines and drilling. It's not like computers that are subject to dramatic cost reductions. In fact the risks are that they will prove higher. I cited organic chemist who point our the potential difficulties with siting the foul smelling plants, and Con did not disagree.

Con claims that China is involved with the technology, but his reference strongly implies that their interest is solely in selling CCS equipment to the West, not in increasing their electricity costs by 42%. They're eager to sell windmills and solar panels as well. They only are interested in local use to perfect their products.

I argued that developing nations should devote resources to providing food, health care, and essential infrastructure rather than sequestering carbon. con did not explain why CCS should be a high priority for poor nations. They are better off being warmer and not starving.

3. Nuclear, Adaptation, and Climate Engineering are Better Alternatives

Con seemed to me to grant that the alternative of using nuclear power lowers the cost of electricity from current levels and reduces CO2 emissions to zero. I pointed out tat there is no objection to widespread use of nuclear power, so long as the plants are properly monitored. Therefore, it's an alternative superior to CCS under any assumption of the bad effects of CO2.

If we take global warming seriously, we should seek a solution that works whether the cause is CO2 or natural or some combination of the two, and we should solve 100% of the problem not a fraction of 13% of the problem. The idea of spending unlimited money doing everything that can be imagined does not work because money is finite. The alternative of seriously developing climate engineering technology is the only route that is both economic and promises a full solution.

Thanks to my opponent for an interesting debate. I hope readers will get a better understanding of costs and strategies from our interchange.

CCS should not be required because alternative accomplish more at lower cost.
The resolution is affirmed.


Roy Latham thinks I am attacking him personally. However I praised him as the best debater on this site! I did comment that he appears to be a distracted due to strange features of his arguments. This is not a personal attack, rather a serious attack on the quality of his arguments. Attacking his arguments is definitely within the scope of this debate.

What is more interesting is that he has not responded to the criticism I had presented. I would list it below so that readers can verify that the criticism is valid.

  1. My arguments were ignored
  2. Lack of coherence between Pro R2 and R3.
  3. Dropping arguments from R2 in R3.
  4. Quoting comment by a reader on someone else’s blog as an authentic source.

== Arguments ==

Apart from the cost factor, Pro has not disputed any of my arguments. I will address the cost factor in rebuttals. Pro has conceded that CCS is technically feasible for global adoption.

== Rebuttals ==

Global Warming / Cooling: Pro seeks to defend his introduction of global cooling into the debate. This is a technical debate on an important issue. To have an in-depth discussion, it is essential that we limit the scope of debate to essential points. If the issue of global warming is introduced in this debate and Pro is ‘undecided’ on the issue, the burden on Con increases considerably. This is clearly undesirable in a serious debate.

After balloon baloney, Pro again shows lack of seriousness by comparing existence of global warming to existence of vampire. I have already answered the principle issue. I would argue the readers to ignore the analogy.

In any case, this meta-debate is moot, since it has already been established by science that global warming exists and is anthropogenic in origin. Pro has dropped the research presented by me in the last round.

Too expensive to be globally accepted: This is being merged with discussion of Cost.

Cost of CO2 removal unknown: Pro has dropped my arguments that cost of removal of CO2 produced by fossil fuels is likely to be huge.

Balloon Baloney: It turns out that the intent of Pro was a huge straw man on my arguments. I did not say that any scheme which internalizes cost is perfect, irrespective of cost. I showed in the first round that pollution is an externality of industrial activity. Pro did not dispute this argument. In R3, I said:

I am not arguing for internalizing cost of CO2 removal just because it is fair. Internalizing cost is an essential component for any stable and pragmatic economic solution to the problem.

It would be obvious to readers, that my opponent’s analogy is a straw man fallacy. Internalization of cost should be considered as a positive point in favor of CCS.

Negligible reduction in global warming: The figure of 13% reduction in temperatures was obtained using extremely rough calculation. We assumed half of emissions are prevented over an unspecified time period. The figure of 3 degree rise in temperature was not significant in our calculation, and 13% reduction should be obtained whatever temperature sensitivity is assumed.

Pro wants us to consider the effect of delay in conversion. However that was the major reason we assumed that only half of carbon emission will be curtailed. The rough calculations we have used prevent us from making any more precise estimate.

We have a dispute whether 13% reduction is significant. TPPs account for 33% of global emission of CO2. CCS provides 13% reduction in global temperature increase. This is clearly significant. It is even more important to note that this decrease is over a scale which is logarithmic.

Cost makes CCS impractical: I had already explained that Pro’s source 6 specifies current cost. Pro’s source 7 is even more interesting. The article does not explain whether the cost is based on current technology or future technology. It refers to Carnegie Mellon study on the subject. A quick look at the study [1] confirms that they are talking about current cost (i.e. 2007) which they find to be in order of 15-30%.

I saw no need to present my own figures for cost since I accepted the cost presented by Pro for current technology. For future cost projection I did refer to Wikipedia [R2:7]. Pro did not challenge that earlier. The Wikipedia referred to CURC roadmap, which I used as source [R2:8]. The complete cost projections are presented on page 19 of roadmap. Readers are welcome to read that.

Pro does not believe that costs can decrease in any technology. When a new type of industry is built for first time, there are lots of extra costs and delay. This is essential since all design assumptions have to be validated at each stage. Once the technology becomes popular, it is possible to copy large part of design and move ahead with production. It becomes more economical to produce some components with specialized parts. With a technology like CCS, it can be hoped that better processes will develop leading to lower costs.

I presented evidence to show that China is developing CCS. There is little doubt that they would like to sell it to the world. However it also shows that they will be able to afford the technology. Further, just like Americans, Chinese are also human beings and our fellow citizen of planet earth. Just like we are debating merits of CCS, it is hoped that they too will discuss it and switch to CCS to control emissions. An argument which is good enough to convince an American and Indian is likely to be good enough for Chinese also.

Pro also believes that ‘poor’ nations should focus on ‘poverty’. It is a typical useless advice. In India we have reduced poverty significantly through developments in industry and service sectors. It is not possible to remove poverty by focusing on poverty. It can be argued that projects like CCS will create jobs and boost technical skills of developing countries.

Nuclear, adaptation and climate engineering: Pro wants us to wait for solution from climate engineering research. However we don’t really know whether this will provide us a solution at all. Even if it does provide a solution, it may be expensive, risky or the impact associated with it may be small. We already have a reasonable solution in our hand and we should go ahead with it. Trusting the future of planet to a field of scientific research in its infancy is naïve.

Pro again tries to present a false dichotomy between nuclear power and CCS. Nuclear power should not have any bearing on this debate unless my opponent thinks that the world should switch to nuclear power completely. Otherwise both CCS and nuclear power can be used.

I admit there are several advantages of nuclear power. However readers would also be aware of several problems. These issues were presented in R2, however Pro has not addressed them. He has asserted that there is no problem with nuclear power and all that is needed is monitoring. Readers would be aware that monitoring itself is a controversial issue.

== Conclusions ==

We have spent lots of time in going through Pro’s rebuttal, since my arguments were either conceded or dropped by Pro.

CCS offers us a way of curtailing CO2 emissions from thermal power plants by 90%. Pilot projects are already on in various parts of world. At current level, costs of power production increases by around 50%. This is good enough for us to move ahead with technology. Once the technology becomes popular the cost should be same as that for conventional production. Unlike nuclear, it is globally popular and non-controversial. It has been recommended by various agencies and welcomed by large number of countries. While we don’t know about future, as of now CCS looks like a very good option. Good enough for us to continue moving ahead with it.

Thanks to my esteemed opponent for a very enjoyable debate.


Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Apollo.11 5 years ago
Ya. This one goes to Roy. I don't have the time to write a detailed RFD so I won't vote unless Roy's winning status is changed.

But good debate, baggins.
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
Part 2:
On global warming/cooling: Pro won even assuming that the mainstream consensus on global warming is completely correct, so it doesn't matter.

There might be other points I missed here, but ultimately nothing else in the debate matters if Con doesn't prove that CCS has any benefits.

So since Con failed to fulfill his side of the BOP and show the benefits of reducing global warming, and Pro showed that adopting CCS had significant costs, Pro wins the cost-benefit analysis.
Posted by LaissezFaire 5 years ago
Part 1:
The debate is about cost-benefit analysis, and Con never substantiates any benefits to CCS. Reducing global warming isn't necessarily a good thing (as Pro points out, global warming has both costs and benefits), and even if it is, Con would have to show how much benefit there is to prove that the benefits of CCS outweigh the costs. Con says that the costs of CO2 are unknown, but that "Voters will agree with me the cost is likely to be high." Even if I did agree with him, I couldn't include that in my decision--you have to provide evidence of your assertions to fulfill your burden of proof in a debate. But I don't agree with him. The costs of global warming are uncertain--no one knows exactly how much it would be. But they aren't completely unknown--there have been many economic studies attempting to calculate the costs and benefits of global warming. The evidence that exists does not show that the costs of global warming are "likely to be high"--rather, it leads me to conclude that global warming is not a serious problem, and we can safely ignore it and worry about more important things.

There were other points raised, but I don't think they're relevant.

Alternatives do matter. If cutting off your leg would get rid of your cancer, then the benefits of cutting off your leg may outweigh the costs if the only other alternative is doing nothing. But if there's a drug that'll treat your cancer and let you keep your leg, then clearly the doctors should use that instead, and shouldn't cut off your leg. But since I thought Pro won the cost-benefit analysis anyway, this doesn't matter.

The argument about the benefits of just the U.S. adopting CCS vs. the whole world doing it seemed irrelevant. If the costs outweigh the benefits for the US, then they probably also outweigh the benefits for the world--there's a greater reduction in global warming if the whole world does it, but it also costs more, so it's a wash.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Apollo, Yes, it's about 2 ppm per year, 20 ppm for the decade.
Posted by 16kadams 5 years ago
The main point if carbon capture is too decrease global warming. Pro proves it would be ineffective throughout the debate at enormous cost. Too me this is painful too con, as mandating a costly and ineffective is not practical. Cons rebuttal for its effectiveness where weak. Pros analysis on companies would find loopholes was convincing and just stuck.

If we assume co2 causes warming climate sensitivity is key to the debate. Pro showed high estimates which provided proof for his case. He also concluded sensitivity is likely lower and it's effect even smaller then expected. Too show the ineffectivness had a cost too it he turned to monetary costs. He showed its cost is as much as coal production increasing by 50%, and that other options, nuclear power, is cheaper and actually reduces GW (assuming it's co2 driven).

Pro really won this debate. When cheaper more effective versions are on the market (pro #3) it would be illogical to mandate an idiotic alternative. This point combined with 1 & 2 on balance held too it's conclusions that it should not be mandated.
Posted by Apollo.11 5 years ago
"In the decade from 2000 -2009, CO2 levels increased by about 2 ppm."
Does Pro mean '20' PPM?
Posted by baggins 5 years ago
Just in time :)
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