The European Commission is working on plans to speed up investment in capturing and storing CO2 emissions, it said on June 9, as the bloc prepares to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
In a public consultation on the plans, the Commission said infrastructure to capture and store CO2 underground or use it in industries was not developing fast enough, impeded with factors including high costs to develop storage sites.
To try and boost the industry, the Commission said it will carry out an EU strategy that could include 2040 and 2050 targets for CO2 storage infrastructure, or EU-wide standards on CO2 quality and access to carbon capture infrastructure.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) projects are in their infancy in the EU and have a history of controversy in countries including Germany, where states blocked past efforts to bring out projects. Some campaign groups have also opposed the technology on the grounds that it could be used to extend the life of coal power plants and polluting industries.
But plans to remove CO2 have regained some traction as countries map out how to achieve net zero emissions - which will require some CO2 elimination to balance out remaining emissions from industries that cannot reduce their CO2 output to zero, such as aviation or agriculture.
"Emission reduction remains the highest priority of EU climate policies," the Commission document said.
The EU already has targets in place requiring countries to expand forests and other natural ecosystems that can absorb and store CO2.
Brussels proposed a target in March for the EU to be capable of storing 50 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2030, and has said this may need to reach 550 million tonnes by 2050 to hit the bloc's net zero emissions goal.
For comparison, the EU's total CO2 emissions from energy use were nearly 2.4 billion tonnes in 2022, according to Eurostat.