Reducing UK emissions: 2018 Progress Report to Parliament

UK CCS Research Centre members will welcome the clear recommendations in the Committee on Climate Change’s (CCC) latest report, ‘Reducing UK emissions – 2018 Progress Report to Parliament’.

Noting that the UK needs to act now to keep long-term options open, the CCC concludes that “deploying CCS at scale in the 2030s will require deployment of CO2 infrastructure and initial capture projects at a level of around 10 MtCO2 per annum being captured and stored by 2030, on the path to at least 20 MtCO2 per annum in 2035.”

The CCC also expects that the availability of CCS will help the UK halve the costs of meeting its 80% emission reduction targets for 2050, and will be even more valuable if we move to net zero emissions, to deliver the Paris Agreement’s long-term targets.

The UK CCS Research Centre’s strategic mission is to help ensure that CCS plays an effective role in reducing net CO2 emissions while securing affordable and controllable electricity supplies, providing low carbon heat and maintaining competitive industries for the UK.  For example, the UKCCSRC’s Bio-CAP project has undertaken some of the earliest research on combining biomass use with CCS to give net-negative emissions (BECCS).  The CCC predicts BECCS may be the UK’s largest source of stored CO2 in 2050.

The UK can take advantage of some of the best secure CO2 storage sites in the world in our offshore oil and gas fields and related deep sedimentary rocks.  We also are one of the front-runners in CCS research and, with a strong home industry to deliver CCC targets, can lead in developing this critical technology for tackling climate change.

Although 2050 may have seemed a long way off when the Climate Change Bill was passed in 2008, this tenth anniversary report by the CCC is a reminder of how little time is now available to deliver current, and possibly more ambitious, emission reduction targets by the middle of the century.  In another ten years the CCC will need to be reporting how UK industry has successfully built and started up at least its first two regional clusters of CO2 capture plants, pipelines and offshore storage sites. 

This is still feasible, provided the Government powers on with its current CCUS initiative and ensures that effective public-private partnerships are funded to start these major infrastructure projects as soon as possible.  As well as providing physical assets, the knowledge transfer from these projects and the enhanced capacity they will build across the UK economy, will be essential to enable perhaps a doubling of our CCS activity in each following decade, plus a wider global transformation.