Slow government processes holding up roll out of green technologies

Several consultations on negative emission technologies (NETs) are slowing down the deployment of government measures which could suck 5m tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2030. 

Despite the government’s ambition to launch the technologies, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has heard that government clarity is required to roll out NETs. 

Energy Minister Rt Hon Greg Hands MP has written to the EAC in response to a letter from the organisation based on extensive written and oral evidence.  

Mr Hands explained a series of consultations are pending on business models for engineered greenhouse gas removals and core monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV) principles for negative emissions technologies. 

A further consultation is also looking into the role of the UK emissions trading scheme (UK ETS) as a long-term market for carbon extracted from the atmosphere. 

However, the EAC has asked for assurance NETs will not be relied upon by major emitters as a ‘magic bullet’ to avoid cutting their own carbon emissions. 

The organisation also raised concerns that bioenergy carbon capture and storage technologies (BECCS) will threaten the health of the natural environment. 

white and green factory building near body of water during daytime

BECCS technologies approved for use in the UK will use only sustainable biomass and result in net-negative emissions, but the EAC is worried the environment will not be protected from adverse effects. 

This is due to the fertiliser, logging, machinery and transport and large amounts of water used in the process. 

Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said: ‘The Government’s modest response has done little to fill our Committee with confidence that negative emissions technologies can play the important and decisive role in net zero Britain that the Government anticipates. At the current rate of progress, it requires a leap of faith to see how NETs will be deployed to take a mere 5MtCO2/yr out of the atmosphere by 2030, let alone to see the ambitious scale-up plan envisaged for the following decade.

 ‘For an effective roll-out, we need to see adequate environmental protections, frameworks for business models which can drive investment, as well as meaningful deterrents to high emitting companies tempted to rely on negative emissions technologies rather than cutting their own emissions. The Government’s current position has not reassured us in all these areas. I trust that the Government’s actions in response to its consultations will demonstrate that the pace of work in this area will soon accelerate.’ 

Photo by ETA+


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