MPs hit out at government’s free pass for greenhouse gas emitters

1st April 2022


Web carbon capture concept free pass for greenhouse emitters credit Dmitry Kovalchuk shutterstock 2117999006

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IEMA

Government policy on technologies that take carbon out of the air could see heavy emitters dodge their responsibilities to cut emissions, MPs have warned ministers.

Greenhouse gas reductions and removal targets are combined in policy, offering little incentive for industries to prioritise cutting emissions when the future option of negative emission technologies (NETs) is available, according to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee.

While recognising the value of NETs in industries such as steel and cement, where options to decarbonise are more limited, the MPs claim the government is failing to take swift enough action to roll out technologies, with both bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and direct air carbon capture and storage (DACCS) at close to zero levels of deployment in the UK.

In a letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the committee said that reviewing expert evidence for its inquiry into the issue has revealed fears that the government’s thinking “has been limited and opportunities risk being missed”. It says the government has yet to specify which sectors could benefit from NETS, and has no direction on the transport and infrastructure projects for rolling them out. MPs also warn that net zero cannot be met without technologies that remove emissions from hard-to-decarbonise sectors.

The committee heard in evidence that the UK is well situated to deliver engineered greenhouse gas removals, with its access to some of the best geological storage in Europe. The sector’s “number one ask” is for economic support to generate private investment to help projects go further, and the committee is pressing ministers to set out their strategy.

“Presently there is little in terms of incentive, and very little in terms of any government direction or clarity,” said committee chair Philip Dunne. “The fact that removal and reduction targets are combined enables many sectors averse or unable to cut emissions to dodge their responsibilities. Transparency and accountability must be improved by separating these targets out and highlighting the work that needs to be done.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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