The Regulation of Geoengineering - Science and Technology Committee Contents

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) (GEO 13A) (LETTER TO THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE)

  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to examine the transcript of the oral evidence session of your enquiry onto the regulation of geo-engineering last month at which Professor David MacKay and I gave evidence. We have no corrections to make to the transcript but I hope you will permit me to provide some clarification on a couple of points raised during the session.

We were asked for the Government definition of geo-engineering. The Royal Society broadly defines geo-engineering as the "deliberate large-scale intervention in the climate system" and I would like to make clear that the Government agrees with this, recognising that this encompasses both carbon dioxide removal and solar radiation management techniques and the distinction made between the two categories.

  With regard to the question of carbon capture and Government priorities, we do not consider conventional carbon capture and storage (CCS) coupled to coal-fired plants to be a form of geo-engineering as the carbon dioxide is captured at source and does not enter the climate system. CCS when coupled with bio-energy plants, however, is included in our broad definition of geo-engineering. In this case, carbon dioxide is removed directly from the atmosphere by biomass which is then harvested for use as fuel. Use of coal CCS technology is a Government priority in our transition to a low carbon economy.

  I hope this clarifies our position and I await the outcome of your enquiry with interest.

Joan Ruddock

February 2010

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