UK to join Biden’s carbon emissions removal scheme
Net-Zero minister Grant Shapps has confirmed plans for the UK to join US President Joe Biden’s global challenge to develop and scale carbon removal technologies.
As part of a US trip to strengthen ties between the two nations, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero Shapps has confirmed that the UK will take part in President Biden’s Carbon Management Challenge. The Challenge was launched at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change (MEF) in April 2023 and encourages nations to decarbonise energy, end deforestation and promote and develop carbon removal technologies.
Shapps met with senior members of the Biden administration, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, to discuss partnership opportunities under the Challenge. The Challenge calls on nations to share announcements at COP28 later this year on how they plan to develop carbon removal technologies.
“Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine has had the exact opposite effect from what he wanted – rather than wilting in the face of his tyranny, we’ve stood firm and united and are neutralising his blackmail,” Shapps said.
“Our resolve has strengthened our relationships around the world, and nowhere more so than with the US, where we are forging ever-closer links to deliver cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy – ensuring the likes of Putin can never again hold the world to ransom.
“We’re world leaders in renewable technologies and by supporting President Biden’s Carbon Management Challenge we are taking a step closer to realising our huge potential and be at the forefront of this exciting industry of the future.”
The UK has huge potential when it comes to carbon storage, with the North Sea and other carbon sinks able to hold up to 78 billion tonnes of carbon permanently, the Government notes. Tapping into these sinks could be worth £8bn to the UK economy, creating around 50,000 new jobs.
Critics of carbon removal technologies often point to the fact that they are in their relative commercial infancy and, as such, should not be used by businesses as a substitute for delivering steep reductions in emissions in the first instance. Those operating in the removals market note that they play a “different role” than emissions reductions – and should not be used as a substitute for decarbonisation. Swiss carbon capture firm Climeworks, for example, states that removals should only be used for hard-to-abate emissions and, in the longer-term, to achieve net-negative emissions.
Microsoft, for example, recently struck an agreement to utilise carbon removal solutions with British farmers, using crushed basalt rock to improve carbon sequestration on agricultural land.
UK US deals
Earlier this week, Transport Secretary Mark Harper met with US Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg to discuss how a partnership between the new nations can accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs).
The nations will explore a partnership on how SAF plants can be developed at scale, while growing jobs in a bid to gain a leadership role in an SAF market that could deliver a £10bn boost to the UK economy.
A new independent evaluation of the UK’s SAF value chain, authored by Philip New, warns that producers are presently seeing the EU and US as more cost-effective markets in which to build plants. Airlines and airports have previously warned that, without further policy support, British SAF projects would only be able to produce around half the levels of fuel required to meet the mandate.
During the four-day trip, US and UK representatives will also discuss partnerships on renewables, methods to cut household energy bills and reducing fossil fuel imports and usage.
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