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As report after report shows we’re just not on track to meet our emissions reduction goals, it’s easy to think carbon capture might be our saving grace. Oil companies are thinking the same thing — but for not-so-climate-conscious reasons.

Shell and its joint venture partners' carbon capture and storage project near Fort Saskatchewan, Canada.
Shell and its joint venture partners’ carbon capture and storage project near Fort Saskatchewan, Canada. Credit: Government of Alberta Newsroom / Creative Commons

Over the past two years, congressional investigations surfaced a trove of internal documents showing how oil companies have misled the public about climate change and their actions to combat it. And as the climate publication DeSmog found in those documents, promoting carbon capture and storage has been central to their strategy.

While carbon capture technology has successfully reined in emissions at fossil fuel power plants and pulled the gas directly out of the air, it’s still incredibly expensive and hasn’t proven itself as a viable, large-scale climate solution. And internally, fossil fuel giants know that: One study from BP noted “high costs” and “few economically viable business cases” hold carbon capture back.

But oil giants are still publicly promoting carbon capture and funding its research, and internal communications show why. As the same BP study notes, carbon capture could “enable the full use of fossil fuels across the energy transition and beyond.” Internal communications at ExxonMobil, Shell and an industry trade group reflect the same idea: Carbon capture is a “golden ticket to continue pumping,” even if it doesn’t end up becoming financially or technologically feasible, DeSmog writes.

Read more on the investigation from DeSmog.

More clean energy news

🌡️ Heat pumps’ tipping point: Recently released industry data shows that heat pumps outsold natural gas furnaces in 2022, driven in part by incentive programs in states like Maine, Massachusetts and California. (Canary Media)

📉 EV prices may finally drop: Increased competition, government incentives and shrinking materials prices could put the cost for some electric vehicles on par with gas-powered cars as soon as this year. (New York Times)

🍳 Now we’re cooking with batteries: Induction stoves still face several barriers to adoption, but one startup is reducing some of them by equipping its stoves with batteries. (Canary Media)

⚡ A clean, power-hungry future: Renewables and nuclear power are poised to meet almost all of the world’s growing electricity demand over the next three years, displacing fossil fuels along the way, the International Energy Agency finds. (Washington Post)

🏙️ Big city, little staff: The federal Inflation Reduction Act relies on city governments to implement some of its huge climate and clean energy-boosting provisions, but many cities lack the staff to do so. (E&E News)

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Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.