Anthropogenic energy-related CO2 emissions are higher than ever. With new fossil-fuel power plants, growing energy-intensive industries and new sources of fossil fuels in development, further emissions increase seems inevitable. The rapid application of carbon capture and storage is a much heralded means to tackle emissions from both existing and future sources. However, despite extensive and successful research and development, progress in deploying carbon capture and storage has stalled. No fossil-fuel power plants, the greatest source of CO2 emissions, are using carbon capture and storage, and publicly supported demonstration programmes are struggling to deliver actual projects. Yet, carbon capture and storage remains a core component of national and global emissions-reduction scenarios. Governments have to either increase commitment to carbon capture and storage through much more active market support and emissions regulation, or accept its failure and recognize that continued expansion of power generation from burning fossil fuels is a severe threat to attaining objectives in mitigating climate change.