Select Committee on Science and Technology

No.21 of Session 2005-06 9 February 2006



Carbon capture and storage (CCS) must be developed to provide the UK with a valuable means of reducing CO2 emissions and safeguarding energy security, according to a report published by the Science and Technology Select Committee today (February 9).

The Committee wants urgent Government action to ensure British expertise in CCS technology plays a leading role in mitigating CO2 emissions not just in the UK, but internationally.  It warns there has been a worrying lack of strategic vision in Government decision making on this issue.

The Committee highlights the burgeoning consumption of fossil fuels in countries like India and China which will have a profound and potentially catastrophic impact on global atmospheric CO2 levels unless CCS is embraced now.

Carbon capture readiness should be a requirement for statutory licensing of all new fossil fuel plant in the UK, where the technology and skills to achieve CCS already exist. Full scale demonstration projects could be up and running by 2009 if the Government provides the financial and regulatory framework to give these initial projects the go-ahead. This experience would prove to the world the viability of this technology, and enable the expertise gained to be applied elsewhere.

The Government has an important role to play in supporting these demonstrations and must use the current energy review to provide a long term incentive framework to encourage industry to invest in CCS and other carbon abatement technologies. 

Providing such incentives would not be sending a green light for more fossil fuel burning but should be seen as just one part of a comprehensive energy package that would help to safeguard security of our future energy supply and meet CO2 emissions targets.

Chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee Phil Willis said: “The harmful effects of CO2 on climate change are beyond doubt. The UK is struggling to meet its targets, while growing energy demand in countries such as China and India is expected to fuel a dramatic and potentially disastrous increase in global emissions.

“The Industry must be given a clear framework as a matter of urgency so that it can plan long term investment in CCS but the Government is just starting to wake up to the enormous potential of CCS.

“The UK is well placed to take a leading role in this technology. All the evidence to date suggests that CO2 can be safely stored in both depleted oil and gas fields and aquifers. Not only are the skills and expertise already in place but there is the enormous theoretical storage potential offshore the UK.”

The Report will be published at 0001 on Thursday 9 February 2006 as HC 578-I and II; the text of the Report will be available via the Committee’s internet homepage:  from the time of publication. Copies can also be obtained from TSO outlets and from the Parliamentary Bookshop, 12 Bridge Street, Parliament Square, London SW1A 2JX (020 7219 3890) by quoting the appropriate HC number from the day of publication.

For media inquiries please call Laura Kibby on 020 7219 0718. For any other information please call Ana Ferreira, on 020 7219 2793.

Notes to editors:

• Under the terms of Standing Order No. 152 the Science and Technology Committee is empowered to examine the “expenditure, policy and administration of the Office of Science and Technology and its associated public bodies”. The Committee was appointed on 19 July 2005.

• This inquiry was announced on 21 July 2005 in press notice No 4 of Session 05-06

• Evidence sessions were held on Wednesday: 16 November when evidence was heard from Government officials and UKCCSC and BGS; 7 December when evidence was heard from industrialists and Environmental NGO’s; and 14 December 2005 when evidence was heard from the Minister of State for Energy and Government officials.

Membership of the Committee

Mr Phil Willis (Lib Dem, Harrogate and Knaresborough)(Chairman)
Adam Afriyie (Con, Windsor)
Mr Robert Flello (Lab, Stoke-on-Trent South)
Mr Jim Devine (Lab, Livingston)
Dr Evan Harris (Lib Dem, Oxford West & Abingdon)
Dr Brian Iddon (Lab, Bolton South East)
Margaret Moran (Lab, Luton South)
Mr Brooks Newmark (Con, Braintree)
Anne Snelgrove (Lab/Co-op, South Swindon)
Bob Spink (Con, Castle Point)
Dr Desmond Turner (Lab, Brighton Kemptown)