Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary evidence from the Government, letter from Malcolm Wicks MP, Minister of State for Energy

  I am writing in response to your request, at the Science and Technology Committee meeting of 14 December, to give an indication of the timescales my Department is working to in order to clarify the regulatory frameworks affecting carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

  As I stressed to the Committee we are still at an early stage in considering the full-scale deployment of CCS and therefore it is unrealistic to give precise timescales or targets. Indeed several of the relevant regulations are international and will need wider agreement, taking account of the concerns and aspirations of other parties to these treaties.

  As we discussed during oral evidence the key areas requiring additional/modified regulation are:

    —  London and OSPAR conventions that are designed to control marine pollution.

    —  Regulating the abandonment and long-term liability for geological storage sites for CO2.

    —  Monitoring and verification standards for CCS to participate in the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU-ETS).


  My department's submission to your inquiry, and our CAT Strategy, set out how these treaties impact on CCS such that certain methods for sub-seabed storage of CO2 are permitted while others are not. This reflects the fact that both treaties were established before CCS was identified as an option to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  We are working with other parties to the treaties to achieve appropriate revisions, starting with the London Convention and its 1996 Protocol. The 27th Consultative Meeting of the London Convention established a process to consider whether the Convention and Protocol, needed to be clarified and/or amended, in order to facilitate or regulate CCS in sub-seabed geological structures. A meeting is planned for April 2006, which will report to the 28th Consultative Meeting in October 2006, at which Parties will consider and decide on what clarifications or amendments are needed. The timescale for change will be influenced by the type of amendment agreed. Some changes would require ratification by Parties, but others could be agreed within the annual Consultative Meetings. The best estimate at this stage is that the process could take two to three years.


  This has been recognised as a gap in UK regulation. My officials have discussed options with regulatory bodies, and are examining options, which will need to take account of existing and prospective EU Directives.

  It is not possible to give timescales at this stage of the work, though I recognise the need a for satisfactory way forward for CCS projects, including the forthcoming BP/Peterhead project, to proceed.


  Monitoring and verification standards and methods need to be agreed before CCS projects can participate in the EU-ETS. The UK has taken an active lead on this by commissioning a report on options with input from other Member States. The European Commission has decided to take this forward as part of the European Climate Change Programme, and is establishing a Working Group on CCS which will meet during February to May of 2006. This group will produce policy recommendations on EC/EU regulation of CCS, including arrangements for its inclusion in the EU ETS.

  I hope this information is helpful to the Committee. As I stressed during our meeting CCS has come a long way over the last two years, but there is still much to be done.

January 2006

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