Britain must commit to carbon capture to meet climate goals: lawmakers

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain must commit to projects to capture, store and use carbon dioxide emissions to meet its climate targets, a report from a cross-party group of lawmakers said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO – A man walks through Greenwich Park as a haze of pollution sits over the London skyline April 3, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The report comes ahead of a recommendation due next week on whether and how the government could strengthen its climate target to a goal of net zero emissions, by Britain’s independent climate advisers, the Committee on Climate Change.

The country’s current target is to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2050.

“Carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) will be necessary to meet the UK’s existing climate change targets at least cost, the report by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said.

CCUS involves the capture of emissions from power plants and industry to allow them to be compressed and stored for use in industrial applications such as making drinks fizzy.

Campaigners have said the government’s current target does not go far enough to meet pledges made under the Paris climate agreement to try to limit a rise in global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, and that a net zero target should be set.

The BEIS Committee report said CCUS technology would be vital for a zero target to be met.

“Failure to deploy CCUS would also mean the UK could not credibly adopt a ‘net zero emissions’ target” the report said.

Britain last year said it plans to develop the country’s first large-scale project to capture, store and use carbon dioxide emissions by the mid-2020s.

But the report said the government should aim to develop at least three sites by 2025.

It also criticized previous government failures to properly support the technology.

In 2012 the government launched a 1 billion pound ($1.3 billion) competition to help fund a large-scale project to capture emissions from a gas or coal-fired power plant and store them underground.

Despite interest from companies such as Shell and SSE, it then made the shock decision in 2015 to pull funding from the scheme, leaving the projects in limbo.

There are fewer than 20 large-scale CCSU projects in operation globally but many more will be needed to meet the challenge of climate change, according to the International Energy Agency.

The Paris climate agreement, adopted by almost 200 nations in 2015, set a goal of limiting warming to “well below” a rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times while “pursuing efforts” for the tougher goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Reporting by Susanna Twidale; Editing by Alexandra Hudson

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