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Carbon Capture

Volume 447: debated on Thursday 22 June 2006

10. What discussions he has had within the EU and with China on climate change, with particular reference to the development of carbon capture and storage technology. (79351)

As a key element of the EU-China partnership, the UK is leading the first phase of a three-year feasibility study for a near-zero emissions coal with carbon capture and storage demonstration plant in China, and supporting it with £3.5 million of funding. We are also working closely under the EU climate change programme to establish a regulatory framework on carbon capture and storage within the EU, including a recognition of CCS projects in the EU emissions trading scheme.

I thank my hon. Friend for his extensive answer, and I am sure that he will agree that there is no better example of the UK Government’s efforts than the agreement on carbon capture that was signed by Sir David King with the Chinese in Beijing. However, will my hon. Friend look further afield and take a look at the American systems of dealing with carbon capture and come to an agreement with the Americans, so that we can start to reduce in greater volumes the carbon emissions that come particularly from that country? Will he also look at the benefits that that will create for the workers and business in the United Kingdom?

I certainly agree with my hon. Friend about the importance of carbon capture and storage technology. I am pleased that it is recognised as such by the European Commission, and he will be aware of what Commissioner Dimas said recently about carbon capture and storage. We are very interested in talking to the Americans about CCS technology. Along with a number of colleagues, I visited Canada recently and was very interested to hear about the Canadians’ plans and proposals for CCS technology. It is an important technology for the future, and it is right that the UK is involved at its leading edge.

How much confidence does the Minister have that the European Union can carry through this project, given that it could not even open up the gas market in continental Europe? That led to people in this country having to pay £186 extra last year, because of the failure of the Government and the EU.

Across Europe, there is a wide interest in carbon capture and storage technology, not least because of the coal reserves that exist in Europe and issues to do with security of energy supply. I am optimistic about progress over the coming months and years in respect of CCS technology, and about ensuring its inclusion in the EU emissions trading scheme. That will be an important benefit: it is the kind of advantage that we need to provide to incentivise CCS technologies to come on stream.

As well as pressing for carbon capture and storage in China, should we not be working to demonstrate it here, so that, with clean-coal technology, our indigenous British coal industry can have a future? Will the Minister press for that during the energy review?

My hon. Friend makes a good point, and that matter is indeed being looked at as part of the energy review. Carbon capture and storage is an important technology, and it will be essential for our future internationally. CCS is part of a package of measures that we will need if we are to achieve our target of a 60 per cent. reduction in CO2 by 2050.