Today’s 50th anniversary of Earth Day falls during unprecedented times, when the focus of the world is quite rightly on fighting COVID-19. However, we can use Earth Day to reflect on what can be done to fight climate change within the current restrictions, and what needs to be done in the future. We must ensure the momentum behind climate change mitigation is maintained once this global pandemic is over.
Although COVID-19 has resulted in an unprecedented shuttering of great swathes of the global economy, CO2 emissions for 2020 are predicted to only fall around 3-5%. Even with global economic activity at levels lower than previously imaginable we are still emitting CO2 at a rate which will have catastrophic impacts on our fragile environment. This further strengthens the case for urgent and rapid deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, which most experts agree will be necessary in some form if we are to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Earth Day is a good opportunity to remind ourselves that once the ongoing health crisis recedes and the attention of worlds’ nations turns to rebuilding and repairing their economies, this should be done so in a way that is sustainable, just, safe and resilient.
The momentum behind developing the CCS industry and decarbonising industrial clusters in the UK has been very much in the public eye during the last few months:
- The government pledged to spend £800M in the March budget, demonstrating the commitment of the UK to developing this important technology along with supporting infrastructure.
- Drax power station – Europe’s largest decarbonisation project – has been front and centre in advancing plans for the Humber cluster, including continued work with C-Capture’s technology in their incubation area.
- Public consultations were carried out by Net Zero Teesside, one the UK’s most advanced clusters.
- The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund announced it is providing funding to six industrialised areas to help them reach net zero by incorporating CCS.
- HRH The Prince of Wales met experts and senior leaders from various sectors, including C-Capture’s chairman Tristan Fischer, to discuss how to accelerate the deployment of CCS technologies.
This momentum must be maintained, and at C-Capture we are continuing to develop our innovative carbon capture technology to be ready for full scale deployment. Most staff are working from home, with some technical work by small isolated teams, taking the utmost precautions for safety, continuing in our labs. We are working hard to develop the solutions that will enable long term resilience in a sustainable power and industrial sector to be built.
The timelines for funding streams for CCS are not currently impacted and work is continuing in earnest amongst industrial and academic partners to develop projects, roadmaps and business models for industrialised areas to capture, transport and store their CO2. Many conferences and webinars continue online, bringing leaders from industry, academia, finance and business together to develop strategies to avoid the disastrous consequences of climate change.
If we can work together to deploy the technology to capture CO2 and effectively store or utilise it, we can prevent a return to business as usual – we have the technology which enables us to build a better future.