30th March 2023, London – Responding to today’s “Powering Up Britain” announcement by the UK Government, Alice Harrison, Fossil Fuels Campaign Leader at Global Witness, said:

“Today’s announcement comes at a time when our global dependence on fossil fuels is driving crisis after crisis, from Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine to soaring energy bills, and of course climate breakdown. How a government can respond to this collision of crises with anything short of phasing out fossil fuels is remarkable in its short-sightedness.”

“What we needed from today was bold and transformative action to match the scale of the problems we face, to free us from the crippling cost of oil and gas and volatile fossil fuel markets. What we got was a rehash of tired half-measures that will further enrich a handful of oil and gas companies that have been making a fortune from the trio of crises they have created.”

“What the vast majority of people in the UK want is energy that’s cheap and clean, like wind and solar. Instead, £20 billion of taxpayer’s money is going to be handed to fossil fuel companies for more carbon capture and storage – a project that has already failed and is a get-out-of-jail free card for industry to continue polluting.

“This is a government that is prioritising the interests of energy companies over its citizens and our climate. Any attempt to brand these measures as tackling the climate crisis or benefitting people struggling with bills is pure window dressing. Today is a bonanza day for the likes of BP and Shell, but for people and the planet this news is about as bad as it gets.”

A key part of today’s announcement will relate to the government’s commitment to invest £20 billion in eight carbon capture and storage projects around the country.

  1. ·       Carbon capture and storage technology still doesn’t exist at scale despite the billions that governments around the world have pumped into it for decades.
  2. ·       A 2021 study of 263 state-supported CCS projects announced since the 1990s shows that of the large-scale ones, 78% had been cancelled or suspended.
  3. ·       The high project failure rate means that globally, existing CCS projects have the capacity to capture only 17% of the carbon emissions that announced CCS projects aimed to capture.
  4. ·       Importantly, CCS doesn’t remove existing carbon from the atmosphere – it only captures it at source. This means it’s not a climate-fixing solution – it's only ever intended to make fossil fuel production slightly less polluting.
  5. ·       We need to spend money on other investments that we know work. For example, retrofitting the UK’s housing stock has many benefits and is estimated to cost the government only £5bn, while creating 100,000 jobs, reducing energy bills and carbon emissions.