The UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Select Committee has today issued a report, which has highlighted the lack of government policies in place to deliver its net zero carbon target by 2050.
The committee has recommended ten steps that the government should take to meet this legally binding target, including clear action on carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS).
Specifically, it calls for greater clarity on the details of its CCUS action plan, setting out:
- what it considers to be deployment at scale;
- what constitutes cost-effectiveness or sufficient cost-reduction;
- how it expects to share costs with industry; and
- what the major milestones for the plan are, as well as when they are expected to be achieved.
It also recommends the delivery of a sufficient number of projects, of sufficient scale, to “optimise the chance of successful deployment”, and that knowledge gained from publicly-funded work is shared.
Stuart Haszeldine, Professor of Carbon Capture and Storage at the University of Edinburgh and SCCS Director, said:
There is a continual and widening UK gap between political top-down ambition and delivery by a risk-averse civil service. Fundamental change is required, but the government keeps papering over the cracks instead of fixing the foundations.
The government has commissioned ever more detailed reports, but it must now create the commercial imperatives to pull through innovations into new, potentially world-leading UK low-carbon businesses.
Grasping the nettle of net zero carbon in 2050, leading to a sustained net-negative economy thereafter, means UK storage of more than 10 million tonnes each year of CO2 operating by 2030 and increasing towards 180 Mt a year in 2050.
We need policy decisions that create a market where conventional profits can be made. This also creates value for the UK, not liability. The simplest method, as recommended by many reports to the government, is to legally require all producers and importers of fossil carbon into the UK to store a small percentage of the CO2 liability from their product. That percentage then increases every year to 2050. Business will then find the quickest, most cost-effective and reliable solutions.
Dr Philippa Parmiter, SCCS Project Manager, said:
The UK Government’s action to address the climate emergency is too slow to achieve its stated target of net zero carbon by 2050. Carbon capture and storage offers a lifeline and the means to lock away millions of tonnes of anthropogenic CO2 permanently and securely. It can also deliver negative emissions, and the means of decarbonising heat through links with hydrogen production. As the Science and Technology Committee has urged today, we desperately need clear direction and policy from the UK Government, not procrastination.
“The committee’s report calls for a sufficient number of CCS projects to ‘optimise the chance of successful deployment’. The Acorn CCS project in north-east Scotland is one such project that is waiting in the wings. With the right government backing and policy support, it could be injecting and storing large-scale volumes of CO2 by the early 2020s and feeding ‘blue’ hydrogen to the UK’s gas grid.