COP 27 Decarbonization Day: Unicorn Tech

On 11 November 2022 COP27 “Decarbonization Day”, Extinction Rebellion staged a short piece of street theatre at Open House in Cape Town CBD, to highlight the absurdity of relying on “Unicorn Technology” to solve the climate crisis.

Imagine continuing to smoke when you have lung cancer, in the hope that there may one day be a cure that could reverse the damage done. This way of thinking is irrational and life-threatening. So too is the belief that we can continue burning fossil fuels in the hope that one day there may be technology to remove the C02 from our air and reverse the damage done.

There is emerging technology, known as Carbon Capture and Storage, that catches the carbon emissions before they are released into the atmosphere, e.g. from power stations or cement plants, then stores, transports and buries it underground. Carbon Dioxide Removal is technology that sucks already-released C02 from the air and stores and buries it.

This sounds promising; however, CSS technologies are currently hugely expensive, are only catching a tiny fraction of existing emissions, and very difficult to scale quickly enough in order to capture the amount of C02 needed to ensure we don’t continue to overheat our planet. Believing that CSS allow us to continue with fossil fuels without damaging our planet, is the same as believing that magical unicorns will solve the climate crisis.

Further, scientists warn that as our earth heats, vital planetary systems will be irreversibly disrupted and damaged. This cannot be undone should one day the magical unicorns or the Carbon Capture and Storage technologies become viable.
Extinction Rebellion Cape Town is calling on our government, and the governments of the world, to stop looking to “unicorn technology” to magically save us, but rather to invest in current and effective technology in the form of renewable energy, which is now cheaper, cleaner, safer and more people-centred than fossil fuels.

Our demands

  • The Government must admit the truth about the ecological emergency, reverse all policies inconsistent with addressing climate change, and work alongside the media to communicate with citizens
  • The Government must enact legally binding policy measures to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and to reduce consumption levels
  • A national Citizen’s Assembly to oversee the changes, as part of creating a democracy fit for purpose.

Read the full press release here.