WWF report

A new report on ending Scotland’s contribution to climate change, written by vivideconomics and commissioned by WWF Scotland was published on January 23rd.   ‘A Climate of Possibility: Harnessing Scotland’s natural resources to end our contribution to climate change’ argues that:

Scotland is a country laden with natural advantages for net zero. From our abundant renewable energy resource, to our large land area suitable for carbon sinks such as forests and restored peatlands, to our history of innovation and skilled workforce, this report shows we can hit net zero before other UK nations and be among the global leaders on this issue. 

There’s much to be commended in the introduction to the report. The authors are absolutely right that we have multiple options. However, as the report develops, one option, Greenhouse Gas Reduction through Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), is given prominence. In my view this is unhelpful. CCS is an unproven technology that would be capital intensive (making the involvement of corporations inevitable) and take longer than we’ve got. A specialist paper on CCS notes that

Although technologies regarding the capture and storage of CO2 exist, the overall cost of using current CCS procedures is still high and must be substantially reduced before it can be widely deployed. There are multiple hurdles to CCS deployment that need to be addressed in the coming years, including the absence of a clear business case for investment in CCS, and the absence of robust economic incentives to support the additional high capital and operating costs associated with CCS.

The fundamental point is (see ScotE3 Briefing 3: Time for action ) that the world desperately needs sources of energy which are clean, secure and affordable, and which can be readily put under democratic control. Fossil fuels have none of those characteristics. To continue to extract, burn and rely on them, and depend on greenhouse gas removal to address climate change, would mean continuing with insecurity of supply, oil imperialism and wars (Venezuela and Iran examples currently in the news), and high energy prices in order to meet the profit margin requirements of the big corporations who control their extraction and distribution. A focus on CCS plays into the hands of the corporations.

Mike Downham

NB We’d welcome further contributions on this topic.

image from commons.wikimedia.org