Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220 - 231)



  Q220  Dr Iddon: What is your view on liability? How would you like it clarified?

  Mr Marsh: Well, I think given the lifetime and the scales in terms of years we are talking about of CO2 staying stored, the Government has to play a role at some point. Obviously after the generation and the company has finished with the plant and is effectively moving out of the site, the Government clearly then has to say that it cannot see any other way of the liability being held.

  Q221  Dr Iddon: Is that agreed?

  Ms Canzi: Yes.

  Q222  Margaret Moran: To ask you the same question as we asked the industry, what is your view on the UKCCS Authority or do you have one?

  Mr Marsh: I have not thought about it. It sounds like it might be a good idea, but I have not really thought about it.

  Q223  Chairman: Could you give us a response to that?

  Dr Parr: Well, I can say what I think now which is that if this technology goes ahead in the UK, then there will need to be either something like a CCS Authority or a section within the Environment Agency or some other regulatory agency which will need to have the expertise and the focus to do verification on the companies' analysis of the stability of the formation and other monitoring and verification activities. There will have to be something that is a separate, new thing. Now, whether it is under the Environment Agency or it is separate, I do not really have a view, but clearly there will need to be something.

  Q224  Chairman: But we should consider that?

  Dr Parr: Yes.

  Q225  Adam Afriyie: I must admit, first of all, I am surprised by your bashfulness on your ability to affect public opinion considering you have been invited here to speak to a Select Committee. Who would have thought this ten, 20, 30 years ago? It never would have happened, so I am a little bit surprised by your bashfulness. I think you have a lot more public influence than perhaps you imagine. Just to narrow it down a tad, climate change, CO2 emissions, acidification of the sea, these are issues which affect everyone on the entire planet, they will affect everyone in the United Kingdom, so do you think it is fair that just industry bear the carbon capture and storage costs? I do take your point about insulation and other ways of reducing energy usage, but on this particular point is it right that industry bear the costs rather than the Exchequer or the country as a whole?

  Dr Parr: Well, my position would be that this is a major issue for the fossil fuel producers and that they should bear the costs of sorting it out, and I think the best way of doing that and signalling that that is what needs to happen would come through a tight cap and a high cost of carbon emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme rather than something that is as technology-specific as CCS support. I think if we had a tight cap, all sorts of other technological possibilities would emerge, but let's not go down there; it is the right way to do it.

  Ms Canzi: We agree with that. We would definitely be unhappy if a lot of public money were to go into this. We accept that there should be some incentives and we think that the best incentive is to have a tight cap on the Emissions Trading Scheme.

  Q226  Chairman: And to include carbon within that?

  Ms Canzi: Carbon capture and storage?

  Q227  Chairman: Yes, for that to be included.

  Ms Canzi: Yes, but the cap has to be tight enough and at the moment it is not.

  Q228  Adam Afriyie: On balance, do you think that the UK policy should favour renewables over carbon capture or one particular area of insulation over carbon capture? Is there a balance in your minds as to which way the incentives or disincentives should be laid down by Parliament?

  Mr Marsh: I think I would go back to my initial point. I think in the short term we should not lose the focus on needing to support and doing more for renewables and energy efficiency. Picking up the point that both Doug and Germana made about the Emissions Trading Scheme, if you get the signals right in the Emissions Trading Scheme and you get a long-term signal in the Emissions Trading Scheme, that will give the incentive and the certainty that the CCS industry and other industries need to make the investments now, so you will not actually be looking at, and necessarily having to pick, a particular technology and that is the advantage of doing it through the Emissions Trading Scheme.

  Dr Parr: My view on that would be that although it is better to have carbon dioxide underground than in the atmosphere, the best way to deal with it is not to produce it in the first place, so we would very clearly prefer renewables and energy efficiency measures over carbon capture and storage.

  Ms Canzi: That is our view as well and any public money that is spent should be prioritising these two technologies.

  Q229  Adam Afriyie: Sort of related to that, you would not differentiate in terms of incentives between what is, I guess, carbon-neutral and carbon abatement technologies? Is that right?

  Dr Parr: Could you clarify that for me?

  Q230  Adam Afriyie: Carbon abatement meaning wind, nuclear, carbon capture and so on as opposed to carbon-neutral in terms of the incentives. In terms of the way the Government is incentivising the various alternatives that are out there, should they be looking to be carbon-neutral or should they be moving towards carbon abatement, as I say, the examples being nuclear, wind, carbon capture and so on?

  Dr Parr: Could you define what you mean by "carbon-neutral"? What sort of measures would that involve?

  Q231  Adam Afriyie: I guess the net effect of producing energy which does not produce carbon.

  Dr Parr: I am not sure I see a huge difference between them, to be honest.

  Mr Marsh: No.

  Adam Afriyie: Well, there is an answer.

  Chairman: I think what we will do is write to you with this question because we are interested in looking at where the incentives should be because I think in terms of our report, we need to make some clear recommendations about the balance between incentives and where the market comes in and whether in fact it should be left entirely to the market which is what has been suggested in other ways. You have made a very clear statement about the carbon trading scheme and industry seems to support that view again, but we will come back to that. I am afraid we have to finish now, so can I thank you very much indeed for coming.

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