Environmental bonds and the challenge of long-term carbon sequestration

David Gerard, Elizabeth J. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The potential to capture carbon from industrial sources and dispose of it for the long-term, known as carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), is widely recognized as an important option to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions. Specifically, CCS has the potential to provide emissions cuts sufficient to stabilize greenhouse gas levels, while still allowing for the continued use of fossil fuels. In addition, CCS is both technologically-feasible and commercially viable compared with alternatives with the same emissions profile. Although the concept appears to be solid from a technical perspective, initial public perceptions of the technology are uncertain. Moreover, little attention has been paid to developing an understanding of the social and political institutional infrastructure necessary to implement CCS projects. In this paper we explore a particularly dicey issue-how to ensure adequate long-term monitoring and maintenance of the carbon sequestration sites. Bonding mechanisms have been suggested as a potential mechanism to reduce these problems (where bonding refers to financial instruments used to ensure regulatory or contractual commitments). Such mechanisms have been successfully applied in a number of settings (e.g., to ensure court appearances, completion of construction projects, and payment of taxes). The paper examines the use of bonding to address environmental problems and looks at its possible application to nascent CCS projects. We also present evidence on the use of bonding for other projects involving deep underground injection of materials for the purpose of long-term storage or disposal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1105
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon capture and sequestration
  • Carbon capture and storage
  • Environmental regulations
  • Financial assurance requirements
  • Performance bonds
  • Policy instruments
  • Site closure and long-term maintenance


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