Speaking to EurActiv in an interview, Frisvold makes no concessions in describing the challenges the world faces in reducing carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels use. What's more, hailing from one of the world's largest oil-producing countries, Norway, Bellona believes it has a special role to play.
"Norway is one of the richest countries in the world because we have exported fossil fuels that other people have burned, and that has led to climate change," says Frisvold. "When you are from a country responsible for close to 3% of global CO2 emissions you cannot remain indifferent."
However, when it comes to finding solutions to reduce emissions, Frisvold says there is no "silver bullet". "I hate to use that cliché," he says, [but] it's not a panacea and it's not the only solution".
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas - will continue to dominate the energy mix for decades. And carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the only technology to date which allows CO2 emissions to be taken out of them.
Moreover, if the world is serious about reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50-80% by 2050 - the level at which dangerous climate change can be avoided, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - the Bellona foundation believes three things will be required: (1) increased energy efficiency, (2) more renewable energy production and (3) a wide implementation of CCS technology.
Question over the 'mathematics of renewables'
But unlike other NGOs such as Greenpeace, Bellona believes renewable and energy-efficiency alone will simply not be enough to do the trick. "We are not opposed to renewables," says Frisvold, "but we don't believe in the mathematics of going straight to renewables".
However, there are many doubts about whether CCS technology can be deployed quickly enough to meet the challenge, especially in the emerging world which is heavily relying on coal.
Rolling out CCS to China's coal-fired power plants
This is why Frisvold says there is urgency. "Some of the demonstration plants should be in emerging economies like China and India – precisely to minimise their lock-in of CO2-intensive power generation while allowing them to continue using their most abundant and accessible energy source. That is why we are in a hurry - we need to get the cost down for this technology."
According to Frisvold, a global climate change agreement is therefore crucial to allow the deployment of CCS technology. "We need to ensure we have a global agreement at COP15, the UN climate summit in Copenhagen next year," says Frisvold. "We need a commitment from China to reduce its growth in emissions and get the rich countries to play a part in the installation of this technology in China. We need to get the industrialised countries to acknowledge that we have polluted this world by exploiting fossil fuels and are not in a position to tell China to stop using fossil fuels."
"As the cradle of the industrial revolution and the fossil economy, Europe has a moral duty to invest in new technologies. We must enable the developing world to grow out of poverty without jeopardising the climate."
CCS in Europe: Public money needed for start-up phase
At European level, EU leaders agreed, at a summit in March 2007, to have 10-12 CCS demonstration plants up and running by 2015.
But the question of how to finance the technology, which is very expensive and is still in its infancy, is proving to be a contentious issue as some fear it will drive public money away from investment in renewable energies or support for energy-saving measures.
For its part, the European Commission has pinned most of its hopes on the EU's flagship emissions trading scheme for CO2, which was launched in 2005. But it is still not clear how CCS plants will be treated under the scheme.
"By 2020, most observers agree the ETS should be able to incentivise CCS on its own, without government support, as it will be more expensive for industry to emit CO2 than to install CCS technology," says Frisvold.
"But in case the ETS is not a sufficient incentive by 2020, a mandatory emission ceiling should be established for power plants, so that no new fossil fuel power plants start operating without CCS after 2020."
"We agree with other NGOs that there should be no public money going to power companies using CCS after 2020," says Frisvold. "But we need to provide incentives for private investment in developing technologies with such huge potential, whether it be CCS, offshore wind or concentrated solar power."
"CCS should not draw public money from investing in renewables."
Using the Emissions Trading Scheme 'in an innovative way'
To support the demonstration phase of early CCS installation, Frisvold believes the EU's emissions trading scheme for CO2 could be used "in an innovative way".
"One way is the idea to provide double EUAs [EU Emission Allowance, a permit to emit one tonne of carbon under the EUETS] for the demonstration projects," says Frisvold.
However, he also admits the idea could create problems with other industries, which could be placed at a disadvantage. "The challenge with this is that if the Commission opens up that door, other causes will queue up to benefit from the same mechanism such as the renewables industry and all other kinds of low-carbon technologies."
In its energy and climate change package of January, the European Commission suggested that every tonne of CO2 which is prevented from entering the atmosphere using CCS technology should be counted as such – i.e.: non-emitted. In that way, CCS would be treated just like any other technology.
But the Bellona foundation, together with other NGOs and companies including Vattenfall Shell and Alstom, have launched an appeal for the EU institutions to support CCS by giving it double credits under the scheme – once as not emitted and another in the form of tradable permits under the ETS.
In a joint letter sent to EU environment and energy ministers, who will meet in Paris for an informal meeting on 3-5 July, they write: "We jointly call for urgent decisions by the EU institutions to support a transitional project demonstration mechanism whereby industrial actors operating CCS demonstration projects would obtain allowances for the full chain of capture, transport and verified storage of CO2 that would be traded in the EU ETS."
Making CCS mandatory?
The other key part of the debate is whether to make the technology mandatory or not. "If we want to use CCS, then the best signal for the market is to mandate all new power plants to use CCS by 2020, and for all existing plants to install it by 2020-30," says Frisvold.
"The battle in the Council and Parliament at the moment is whether or not to make this mandatory. It is already in the Commission's proposed ETS review to provide credit for the CO2 stored. The question is the financial incentives for demonstration projects, and the mandatory issue."
"It will be interesting to see whether it is the double credit mechanism [which gets the go-ahead] or a percent of that to apply to the demonstration projects. That is the battle that is being fought right now."