Business groups have written to the Chancellor and a number of other Cabinet colleagues urging them to support negative emissions technologies to “build back better” from the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter, industry heavyweights Drax, Heathrow Airport, BA owner IAG and the CBI called on ministers to show a “clear, unambiguous commitment” to support the development of the sector.
“With COP26 fast approaching, there is a real and compelling opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate to the world it is taking a leadership position on negative emissions.
“Conversely if the UK does not act quickly, it could jeopardise the delivery of projects in the 2020s that can support innovation, learning by doing and the scale-up of negative emissions in the 2030s”, it added.
It said that developing such technologies should go hand-in-hand with attempts to decarbonise sectors such as heavy industry and aviation.
The group, called the Coalition for Negative Emissions, pointed to a number of technologies already being developed as examples of the kind of projects the government needs to support.
These include Drax’s plans to develop a negative emission power plant in North Yorkshire using biomass with carbon capture technology, and BA’s work with Velocys to develop net zero jet fuel.
“It is essential that government works with industry to bring forward early projects in the 2020s that are viable and represent value for money”, the letter added.
Ministers should also use the COP26 climate summit next year to “make a statement” about the steps the UK has already taken.
“This statement would be particularly powerful as it can be credibly supported by several pioneering projects already being undertaken by British businesses and research organisations in this space.”
Last week Boris Johnson unveiled £160m in new funding for the UK’s offshore wind industry.
The government now plans to develop an extra 10 gigawatts of the renewable energy source by 2030.
If successful, the UK will have 40 gigawatts of wind power capacity by the end of the decade – enough to power the equivalent of every home in the country.
The money is the first step in a 10 point package of measures to decarbonise the UK’s economy, which will be laid out later this autumn.
Ministers have also said that they will publish the long-awaited energy white paper in a similar time frame.