Environmental groups respond to carbon capture funding pledge in UK Budget
In his first UK Budget, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has confirmed that the country will invest £800m in a carbon capture and storage (CCS) infrastructure fund to establish CCS clusters in two sites by 2030.
“Carbon capture and storage is precisely the kind of exciting technology where Britain can lead the world over the next decade,” said Sunak, while discussing the funding. The plan is to establish one cluster by the middle of this decade and a second by 2030. “Once up and running, these clusters will store millions of tons of carbon dioxide that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. The new clusters will create up to 6,000 high-skill, high-wage, low-carbon jobs in areas like Teesside, Humberside, Merseyside or St Fergus in Scotland.”
However, environmental campaigners have opposed the move, with a group of international NGOs and activists commenting on the proposed clusters, which likely include the Humber CCUS Cluster set up by Drax last November as no other bioenergy with CCS (BECCS) scheme is currently proposed in the UK.
“Public funds should not be used to support BECCS at Drax Power Station,” said a representative of the group. “The Government should not be subsidising energy generation that has no evidence that it will contribute to the UK’s net zero emissions target. Any such program to subsidise BECCS will be ineffective in tackling the climate emergency and waste public resources that are better invested elsewhere.”
“Drax’s long experiment with burning wood for electricity has shown that it exacerbates climate change just like fossil fuels, threatens forests and diverts scarce public resources from low-cost, low-risk alternatives like solar and wind. Now is the time to end subsidies for large scale bioenergy and significantly increase support to real climate and clean energy solutions, not waste time or more money on the latest Drax experiment - the combination of bioenergy with carbon capture storage. BECCS, as it is called, is the wrong and most risky place to start when it comes to carbon dioxide removal. Because most bioenergy use for electricity generation results in increased carbon emissions, adding carbon capture use and storage to these plants, including Drax’s pilot project in North Yorkshire, does not result in net carbon dioxide removal from the atmosphere.
“Instead of wasting money on BECCS, the UK government should invest in energy efficiency, solar and wind, as well as innovative technologies that help manage demand for electricity and battery storage. Restoring forest ecosystems, protection of intact forests, and improved agricultural practices are more effective carbon dioxide removal investments than BECCS. In addition to pulling CO2 out of the air and storing it in organic materials, these approaches can secure food supplies, improve the resilience of ecosystems, and enhance biodiversity.”
The group includes Friends of the Earth UK, Dogwood Alliance, Southern Environmental Law Center, Biofuelwatch, Fern and Natural Resources Defense Council.