UK government attacked for short-termism for treatment of CCS

The UK’s Prime Minister is being heavily criticised by proponents of carbon capture and storage for dropping £1bn in funding for the technology.

Last week David Cameron told a parliamentary committee that while he believed in the technology he said it was ‘not working’.

"The government hoped the costs would come down. But they did not.”

CCS process
Plans to build a ground-breaking CCS plant at Peterhead ground to a halt following the news the competition for development money had been scrapped.

Sam Gomersall of Pale Blue Dot energy consultancy told the FT this week that the decision was another example of short-termism blinkering politicians.

“To date, UK and international progress on CCS has been slow. This is because long-term political vision and commitment are required for CCS and the nature of the electoral cycle inhibits politicians from thinking long term. If we are to meet the COP21 target of significantly less than 2C global average temperature rise, then CCS needs to be part of the mix.”

Industry representatives described finding out – not from a minister but a Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) official – about an hour before the formal notification that the investment was to be dropped.

Richard Simon-Lewis, financing director at developer Capture Power, said the news came as a huge disappointment, given the organisation had been working with DECC on the project for a number of years.

Chris Littlecott, who leads climate diplomacy and energy policy expert E3G’s work on CCS, said the treatment of the project by the government was “shabby”.

He added: “It reflects very badly on the UK Government’s relationship with business and their ability to drive long-term investment. This was a fundamental change in government policy masquerading as a spending decision. The government appears now to not believe in its own energy policy.”

He also said he would welcome the expansion of the regulator Oil and Gas Authority’s remit to include CCS.

A DECC spokesman said: “Our priority is to ensure that hardworking families and businesses have access to secure, affordable and clean energy supplies they can rely on.

“It remains the case that CCS has a potential role in the long-term decarbonisation of the UK.”


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