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Photo: Christopher Burns on Unsplash
The Committee on Climate Change, advisers to the UK Government on climate action, has today published an update on the UK’s progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change.

Are we on track to delivering carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology at the scale required for the UK’s decarbonisation pledges? Recent funding announcements by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) – including for the CCUS Innovation 2.0 Competition, greenhouse gas removals R&D and a high-impact industrial decarbonisation research centre – might suggest that we are.

Unfortunately, the CCC’s report paints a rather different picture. UK Government ambition on CCS is languishing far behind the CCC’s own emission reduction pathways; a current commitment of 10 million tonnes of CO2 per year across four industrial clusters to 2030 compared to the CCC’s 22MtCO2 p.a. across at least five industrial clusters.

Among more than 200 policy recommendations covering all areas of government, the CCC has called for a much greater commitment to CCS. It recommends phasing out all unabated gas-fired electricity generation by 2035, with the proviso that this is “subject to ensuring security of supply”.

Energy from Waste plants are also tagged as requiring urgent action on rising emissions, and there are recommendations for the timely delivery of bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS), which will also require access to CO2 pipeline and storage infrastructures. This can be delivered, says the CCC, as part of the wider deployment of CCS in the early 2020s and then expanded to handle CO2 from BECCS or DACCS.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said:

The UK Government is excellent at making plans and strategies, and the UK is already successful at decarbonising. But the gap between promise and actual deployment needs to be bridged if the Government is to deliver ‘world-leading’ climate protection, a just transition for fossil fuel-based communities, high-value jobs for young people and its stated levelling up ambitions.

Since 2005, the UK has acknowledged CCS as being essential for climate protection. Government and industry have now been round the analytical loops three times. It’s entirely possible that the first UK projects may start storing CO2 in UK North Sea storage sites by 2025 or 2027. Meanwhile, we have been overtaken by Norway and the Netherlands with their own North Sea projects, and by the USA, Canada and China, all with more rapid delivery of commercial schemes. There are great UK projects so close to realisation; we could and should build them faster.

Download the CCC’s Progress Report here.

Photo: Christopher Burns on Unsplash

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