SCCS welcomes the report by the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform (ECCLR) Committee on Scotland’s new Climate Change Bill and is pleased to see its support for carbon capture and storage (CCS). Witnesses who provided evidence to the committee’s inquiry emphasised the need for urgent action on climate change, and this message appears to have been heard loud and clear.
We are glad to see the committee recognise the crucial role of CCS in reducing Scotland’s emissions in line with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. CCS technologies are already operational across the world, and Scotland is in the enviable position of having extensive offshore geology that is well suited to the secure and permanent storage of carbon dioxide (CO₂).
Scientists from our partner institutions are carrying out world-leading research to develop and improve CCS technologies further. Together with the SCCS Team, they have also been key partners in the ACT Acorn project, which aims to develop the UK’s first full-chain CCS project in north-east Scotland.
The accelerated delivery of CCS worldwide will be essential if we are to keep global average temperatures below 1.5°C; however, it is not a magic bullet, and it needs to be part of a mix of approaches, including renewable electricity generation, energy efficiency and behaviour change. Support from government is needed for all these approaches, and they should not be pitted against each other. CCS will require investment in new infrastructure for Scotland – although costs can be reduced by re-purposing legacy infrastructure from the oil and gas industry.
The sooner we start to deploy CCS, the sooner we can start making deep emissions reductions in industry, a sector which has so far shown slow progress in reducing its climate impact. Industrial emissions are an area where renewable electricity can have only a limited impact – most CO₂ emissions come either from the process itself, or from a high demand for heat that can currently only be met by fossil fuels. This means that CCS is the only option for high-emitting industries to decarbonise – other than ceasing production, which would be catastrophic for jobs and the economy.
Once CCS infrastructure is in place we can start to produce low-carbon hydrogen in bulk from methane, which opens up new routes to displacing fossil fuels in heat and transport – two other sectors where significant progress on reducing emissions is needed. CCS infrastructure will also mean that we can start achieving “negative emissions” by applying CCS to biogenic sources of CO₂, compensating for emissions which cannot be eliminated. Research shows that the earlier negative emissions technologies are deployed, the less they will be needed in future, which means a lower impact on land use.
CCS has a crucial role to play in a just transition to a low-carbon economy – retaining manufacturing jobs; replacing oil and gas jobs with low-carbon activities; and supporting the construction industry by providing low-carbon cement and steel. CCS helps to provide a viable future for communities currently dependent on a fossil fuel-based economy.
We urge the Scottish Government to continue to work with the ECCLR Committee and other stakeholders to make sure that Scotland has all the tools it needs to play its part in tackling climate change.