A new report shows it may cost up to $100 billion a year to develop the ability to capture and store carbon dioxide from global oil, gas and coal use.
The estimate is contained in a stock take by the Australian-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, which New Zealand joined earlier this year.
Some of the world's most eminent scientists have called for the urgent development of the technology to pump CO2 from burning fossil fuels into gas or oil pockets deep in the earth.
This would prevent it getting into the atmosphere and contributing to climate change.
The report says to make deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions over the next 40 years could cost as much again as was spent on the entire infrastructure of the hydrocarbons industry during the last century.
Seven carbon capture projects are already pumping CO2 from burning fossil fuels into gas or oil pockets deep in the earth to prevent it getting into the atmosphere and increasing climate change.
Another 55 projects are in development .
The chairperson of the New Zealand CCS partnership, Chris Baker, says the target is to have 20 commercial-scale plants operating by 2020.
He says carbon capture is important for New Zealand to make sure its large lignite resources can be used in future.