SCCS statement on BEIS Committee report, Carbon capture usage and storage: third time lucky?
The House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has advised the UK Government that it needs to do more, and quicker, on vital technology to tackle climate change.
The urgency of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is becoming increasingly visible – with school strikes and Extinction Rebellion protests in recent months leading to urgent questions in Parliament, and the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg invited to the UK to meet party leaders and ministers.
Some of the thorniest issues about climate change still need to be addressed, such as how to make our homes and transport zero-carbon, and how to keep our industries producing goods without producing greenhouse gases.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS), the topic of the committee’s report, is the most cost-effective – and for some industries, the only – solution to this. It is also something that the UK is uniquely well placed to develop, which means that the country can create a new industry permanently storing carbon dioxide (CO2) and exporting the technology to capture and store CO2 to the rest of the world.
As the title of the report, Third time lucky?, reminds us, the UK has tried to make CCS happen before, so what makes anyone think that this time will be different? The Committee urges the Government to set some firm targets for storing CO2, and to deploy CCS sooner and in more places than its current plan.
Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of CCS at the University of Edinburgh and SCCS Director, said:
We strongly welcome the Committee’s report, and urge the Government to act on its recommendations. We are pleased to see the Committee focusing on the ‘how’ rather than the ‘why’ of CCS. It has been shown time and again that CCS is not just the lowest cost way of decarbonising the UK economy. It will be essential if the world is to achieve the climate ambitions of the Paris Agreement.
There are five potential CCUS clusters of high-emitting industries, which want to reduce their emissions by capturing and permanently storing the CO₂ they emit. Each cluster has different and complementary strengths, and the UK Government needs to support them to collaborate, not pit them against each other in a competitive arena.
There is still the question of how development of carbon storage will be paid for, and how networks of networks of pipes to transport the CO₂ will be funded. It’s clear that a new business needs to be created, with CO2 as its subject.
The appetite for rapid change to tackle CO2 emissions is clear, but the vagueness of government policy, and the lack of dedicated funding for CCS, continues to act as a brake on these ambitions. We could be well on our way to decarbonising the whole economy in 2023, if the UK Government takes the Committee’s recommendations on board.