The UK Government is planning tighter climate laws to deliver net zero carbon emissions – but how? A new report shows how the UK’s unique assets can be used to support this ambition cost-effectively through carbon capture and storage (CCS) but warns that this opportunity must be grasped now, with strategic policy to regain lost momentum.
As MPs and external stakeholders meet today [Wednesday] at Westminster to discuss the potential for industrial CCS in the UK – and in light of the Government’s development of its 2050 industrial decarbonisation roadmaps – the report presents the expertise and opportunities that can create a viable route to a zero-carbon economy. These include:
The report also highlights the potential cost to taxpayers of delaying CCS deployment, the loss of crucial infrastructure through North Sea decommissioning and the risk of a “brain drain” of expertise to countries where CCS is already being delivered.
The Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) report derives from its 2015 annual conference, which brought together policymakers, industry, academia and representatives from Scottish, UK and European governments. It shows how low-carbon, competitive economies can be rapidly and uniquely assisted by CCS.
The authors have called for a reset of objectives and ambition in the UK, and recommend a concerted effort by industry, government and academia in four key areas:
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said:
We must never lose sight of our ultimate goal – a zero-carbon future for the UK as part of international efforts to contain global warming. We welcome the UK Energy Secretary’s recent commitment to tightening climate law to enable this ambition, but these good intentions will hit a significant problem if we delay the deployment of CCS any further. The stark reality is that net zero carbon is unachievable without CCS.
In the UK, we have an enviable set of unique offshore assets that, if used now rather than decommissioned, will deliver a least-cost pathway to a competitive, low-carbon economy. Any delay risks creating a considerable burden for UK taxpayers further down the line, as well missing the opportunity to build a homegrown CCS industry that can support the climate actions of other countries.
The progress and potential of CCS in the UK is much more than a government competition. Our report describes why we need to get one of the most obvious and effective climate change tools back on track and highlights the strengths and opportunities that the UK – and Scotland, in particular – possesses.
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