By Centre for Law and Environment , on 11 March 2014
On the 6th of March 2014, King’s College, in collaboration with UCL, organised a conference on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), held in Senate House (London).
With contributions from government, industry and academia, discussions were lively, informed, and encouraged a sense of urgency to get CCS on track. Speakers included the Government Chief Scientist, Sir Mark Walport, Dan Byles MP, Prof. Stuart Haszeldine of University of Edinburgh, Ward Goldthorpe (Crown Estate) , David Kennedy (Climate Change Committee) Ashley Ibbett (Department of Energy and Climate Change), Ian Havercroft (Global Carbon Capture Storage Institute) and many others.
The conference deliberately situated the CCS challenge in the UK and in Europe within the wider debate on the UK’s Climate Change Strategy, the role of government, technology choices, and public acceptability. As such it attracted a much broader audience than is usual for many CCS events, with a lengthy waiting list. From the outset, it was recognised that one of the difficulties we face is that of actually framing these complex discussions on CCS in a way fit for policy makers, the public and politicians. One of the big challenges for the 21st century, as was pointed out at several occasions, is that of clear communication. Various speakers insisted that what is currently lacking in the UK, and indeed in Europe, is a clear identification by government of the ‘amount’ of CCS we are aiming for. The industry needs a clear pathway to help build its confidence and encourage it to fully engage. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme has failed to date to price carbon high enough to encourage investment in CCS. Other countries have managed to immediately encourage CCS with a carbon tax (Norway). UK electricity market reforms including Contracts for Difference for CCS may be an important step in that direction, but it is not enough. Moreover, the UK’s strategy should not sit in a vacuum, though at present as a Government official noted, ‘it feels lonely in Europe’. There was strong support for forging stronger alliances with other European countries to ensure the potential of the technology is fully realized. Finally, it became apparent how important it is to reconsider our current approach to engaging with the public in this process. This is an often undervalued aspect of a sound CCS strategy but nevertheless a crucial one, especially when remembering the public acceptance disasters in some European countries, including Germany.
Copies of the speakers’ contributions can be found here.