Product has been added to the basket

HoC Energy and Climate Change Committee - Leaving the EU: implications for UK climate policy

Following on from the EU Referendum in June, the Energy and Climate Change Committee have launched an inquiry into the impact of leaving the EU on UK climate change policy. Details of the inquiry can be found on the committee website.

The submission produced by the Geological Society can be found below:

Submitted 23 August March 2016

1. The Geological Society (GSL) is the UK’s learned and professional body for geoscience, with about 12,000 Fellows (members) worldwide. The Fellowship encompasses those working in industry, academia, regulatory agencies and government with a broad range of perspectives on policy-relevant science, and the Society is a leading communicator of this science to government bodies, those in education, and other non-technical audiences.

2. There are a number of ways in which Brexit could have an impact on the future of UK climate policy and much of this will depend upon the outcomes of future negotiations. The prevailing uncertainty following the vote is having a destabilising effect on all areas of government, whether directly or indirectly, through impacts on research, the economy and business.

3. The loss of a UK voice in EU negotiations on climate change and setting decarbonisation targets will have an impact on EU (as well as UK) climate policy. As a global and cross-border issue, the value of influence on climate change policy cannot be overstated. The UK has had a strong voice in EU climate negotiations and if the EU’s 2030 target is recast without the UK there is a risk that the ambitious headline goal of a 40% emissions reduction on 1990 levels will be lowered.

Climate change is more effectively tackled with broad multi-lateral agreement rather than policies of individual nations. The Paris agreement was a welcome step in the international effort to tackle Climate Change but the effect of leaving the EU on both the EU and UK governments could result in a delay in ratification which will put further pressure on decarbonisation timelines.

4. Following the cancellation of the UK Government’s £1bn carbon capture storage (CCS) fund at the end of 2015, the EU is now the sole remaining funding source for CCS commercialisation projects via the New Entrants Reserve programme (NER 300). In 2014, the White Rose CCS project in Yorkshire won €300 million from the NER 300 fund. Since then, as a result of the cancellation of the UK commercialisation competition, it has been announced that the White Rose project will close and there have been no further updates on the future of UK CCS either from the former Department of Energy and Climate Change or the new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

5. In order to meet UK climate change targets and those outlined in the Paris agreement, in light of the continued use of fossils fuels, rapid development of CCS is crucial to avoiding dangerous climate change. The significant storage potential under the North Sea and the UK’s strong research base and history of academic/hydrocarbons industry collaboration ideally place the UK to take a leading role in global development of CCS. Full chain demonstration at scale and development of storage capacity are urgently required. The carbon storage potential of the North Sea is only viable while existing infrastructure is in place (pipelines and platforms).

The recent decline in oil price will accelerate the decommissioning of many older, less economic fields which reduces the options for reinjection of CO2 and therefore the window of opportunity is closing. The potential loss of further CCS funding streams puts the CCS programme, and therefore successful meeting of the UK’s decarbonisation targets, at significant risk.