While the fossil fuel industry favours it, many environmentalists say carbon capture is no solution to the climate crisis
Parliament’s business committee has published a report on a controversial way of fighting climate change without hearing from environmental groups.
The committee’s report on carbon capture and storage (CCUS) technology was issued after the committee heard just from businesses, civil servants and ministers.
Carbon capture and storage (CCUS) is an umbrella term for technology which takes carbon emissions out of the environment. It can be used at fossil fuel power plants.
Some environmental groups, like Friends of the Earth, have criticised this way of fighting climate change, arguing that we should stop burning fossil fuels rather than looking for ways of making fossil fuels less damaging.
Environmental website DeSmog has said CCUS is a “lifeline” for big oil because it offers a more socially-acceptable way of burning fossil fuels.
Others, like George Monbiot, have argued that the CCUS technologies currently proposed could have damaging side-effects and that natural solutions like forests and mangroves are preferable.
The committee though, said in its report that, unless CCUS technology was adopted, “many heavy industries” would have to close in the coming decades if the UK’s climate targets are to be met.
The committee criticised the government’s perceived lack of support for the technology.
The government has set an ambition to “have the option to deploy CCUS at scale during the 2030s, subject to costs coming down sufficiently”.
The committee said that this was not enough. Rather than seeking unspecified cost reductions, the government should aim to bring forwards projects “at least cost”.
The committee added: “The scale of deployment targeted in the 2030s is also unclear: the Government’s definition is so broad it is meaningless.”
“We recommend that the Government provides ambition and clarity by adopting specific targets in line with the Committee on Climate Change’s recommendation.”
The witnesses the committee heard from include the chief executive of the Carbon Capture and Storage Association, an adviser to a Norwegian energy company called Equinor and a representative of the Chemical Industry Association.
Other witnesses included representatives of Tata Steel, Cadent Gas, Pale Blue Dot Energy and Progressive Energy.
The committee also heard from the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative. While this sounds like an environmental group, DeSmog describes it as “a coalition of major oil and gas companies created to promote a climate-friendly image for some of the world’s largest polluters”.
Joe Lo is a freelance journalist and reporter for Left Foot Forward
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