UK firms call on government to support negative emissions technologies

UK companies including Drax, CBI, Heathrow, the National Farmers’ Union (NFU) and Velocys have called on the government to adopt a clear commitment to greenhouse gas removal/negative emissions technologies to create a proper market and regulatory framework to deliver them and to use COP26 in 2021 to lead the world on this sector.

In a joint letter, the organisations announced they have launched a new coalition with a shared vision: to build back better as part of a sustainable and resilient recovery from COVID-19, by developing ‘pioneering’ projects that can remove carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants from the atmosphere.

According to the coalition, which represents aviation, farming, and other sectors, a growing number of independent experts including the Committee on Climate Change, Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering and the Electricity System Operator, have recognised the ‘crucial role’ of negative emissions technologies in fighting the climate crisis.

The letter outlined several ways in which the foundations for building back a cleaner, greener economy in the wake of COVID-19 have already been laid by the coalition:

  • The NFU has set out a net-zero vision for the agricultural sector, whereby UK farmers harness the ability to capture carbon and create new income streams

  • The aviation industry through the Sustainable Aviation initiative has identified negative emissions projects, alongside other measures such as sustainable aviation fuel, as being crucial to greening the industry

  • In North Yorkshire, Drax is developing plans to combine sustainable biomass with carbon capture technology (BECCS) to create the world’s first carbon-negative power station, supporting thousands of jobs

  • In North East Lincolnshire, Velocys, with the support of British Airways, is developing the Altalto waste-to-jet fuel project that could produce negative-emission jet fuel, once the Humber industrial cluster’s carbon capture and storage infrastructure is established

  • Carbon Engineering has partnered Pale Blue Dot Energy to deploy commercial-scale Direct Air Capture projects in the UK that would remove significant volumes of CO2 in the atmosphere

To make the most of greenhouse gas removal/negative emissions technologies, the organisations are asking the UK Government to pursue three “low regrets” interventions to support the industry: adopt a clear, unambiguous commitment to supporting negative emissions in the 2020s and beyond; develop targeted policies to support viable negative emissions projects in the 2020s; seize the opportunity to make negative emissions a point of emphasis at COP26.

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