Closing Keynote from Baroness Bryony Worthington – Cambridge Biannual April 2014

Written by Bappah Umar, PhD researcher at the University of Aberdeen who was a recipient of the UKCCSR Meeting Fund enabling him to attend the UKCCSRC Biannual in Cambridge, 2-3 April

The closing keynote was given by the Labour Peer and Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) Baroness Bryony Worthington. She started by expressing her happiness to be back at her alma mater for the UKCCSRC Biannual. She noted that since the theme of the meeting is CCS in Bigger Picture she would talk not just on the UK but also internationally.

She highlighted the impact assessment report from the IPCC which indicated that there is huge problem in terms of the global carbon budget. Currently, we have emitted half of that budget, and by the current level of emissions the remaining half will be emitted before 2050. She stressed that the issue of fossil fuel is in fact a great problem.

The exploitation of fossil fuels across the globe at the moment is considered high. She noted that she thinks we can actually make renewables cheap enough and easily accessible to challenge the Government to help move the market, but there is no way would we can  stop exploiting the fossil fuels at the moment.

She challenged the CCS community to look at what is happening around and make the most of the opportunity, for example, industrial fracking. CCS has a potential message here because climate change is part of what the politicians target but they don’t understand it. CCS has an enormously potential role to play but we have a long way to go. At the moment there are few visionary documents that summarise what CCS is going to bring to UK and there is a need for such documents. She emphasised the need to get the attention of the politicians by bringing forward CCS plans towards achieving the Government’s decarbonising target of 2030.

She also mentioned of the possibility of reviving coal mining activities in the UK through which another source of energy would be provided and the CO2 that will be emitted can be captured and re-injected back into the ground in the same way it is practised in some other countries e.g. Germany.

A lively question and answer session then followed and here is a summary of some of the questions/comments:

Utilisation of CO2 produced

One of the delegates noted that for all the CO2 produced only 3% is utilised

How low carbon technologies will get into the plan of the next Government?

Here Lady Baroness responded by saying that the Labour party is absolutely committed to 2030 decarbonisation target and that poses political challenge. The party needs to know if CCS can deliver. They want to know how soon will CCS start achieving that target. What kind of vision will make that achievable and at reasonable cost. There is the feeling that such technologies are costly, so they need to know transparently and reasonably that there is value for money. She thought the CCS community to work out what range of particular assistance will make projects reasonably achievable.

Another comment was made on the issue of UK going back to coal production which Lady Baroness hinted during her speech. The speaker said he did not agree with the issue of going back to coal exploitation/production in the UK, noting that the UK has just managed to recover from the impacts of coal exploration.

She said she agreed that coal is horrendous, but it provides an enormous portion of the globe’s energy and is cheap. She emphasised that she did not say the UK must have another industrial revolution based on coal, but there is political advantage on having it. If we are going to rely on coal let’s make it as clean as we can.

At the end of her closing remarks she presented gifts to the UKCCSRC Secretariat team for their efforts in making the Cambridge meeting a memorable one.

UKCCSRC Director Jon Gibbins then thanked Bryony and all for attending the meeting and wished everyone a safe journey home.