The Legal Framework for Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage in Canada

Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School

Columbia Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming

35 Pages Posted: 10 Mar 2021

See all articles by Romany Webb

Romany Webb

Columbia University - Sabin Center for Climate Change Law

Michael Gerrard

Columbia University - Law School

Date Written: February 1, 2021

Abstract

Averting catastrophic climate change requires immediate action to prevent additional carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere. However, even that may not be sufficient, with many scientists now warning that it will likely also be necessary to reduce the existing atmospheric carbon dioxide load. That could be achieved using negative emissions technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store or utilize it in some way. One promising technology is direct air capture (“DAC”) which uses liquid chemical solutions or solid sorbent filters to capture carbon dioxide from the air and concentrate it into a pure stream.

Current DAC technologies are highly energy intensive and must be powered by renewable energy sources to achieve negative emissions. Ideally, DAC equipment would be co- located with a renewable energy facility, at a site where carbon dioxide can be stored or used. There is growing interest in the possibility of locating systems offshore in areas with high wind energy capacity and sub-seabed geologic formations that are suitable for storing carbon dioxide. One possible site off the west coast of Canada—known as the Cascadia Basin—is currently being explored in a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions study, called Solid Carbon. This paper was developed as part of that study. It provides a comprehensive analysis of legal issues associated with deploying an offshore DAC system, powered by offshore wind turbines, in Canadian waters and storing the captured carbon dioxide in sub-seabed rock formations.

Keywords: climate change, carbon capture and storage, direct air capture, carbon removal

Suggested Citation

Webb, Romany and Gerrard, Michael, The Legal Framework for Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage in Canada (February 1, 2021). Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, Columbia Law School, Columbia Public Law Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3800493

Romany Webb (Contact Author)

Columbia University - Sabin Center for Climate Change Law ( email )

Jerome Greene Hall
435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Michael Gerrard

Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States

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