Committee (2nd Day)

Part of Energy Bill [HL] – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 9th September 2015.

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Photo of Lord Teverson Lord Teverson Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 4:45 pm, 9th September 2015

My Lords, I am a great disappointment to the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, because over the years, I have become a CCS sceptic in all sorts of ways. The reason for that is not because it is not necessary or a good way to move forward the decarbonisation agenda but because, exactly as he himself said—I have been talking about this for the nine years that I have been privileged to be a Member of this House—we have got a very short distance in terms of making it happen. Obviously there has been important progress, with projects in the formative pipeline at the moment, but one reason for that is that CCS is large scale, demonstration projects are very expensive and it stands aside from the fossil fuel-based industry that it is trying to help. The two are not directly tied up.

What I like about the amendment, and why I have put my name to it, is that it tries to find a number of ways through that puzzle. First, it says that CCS is important, and is a future technology. I really welcome the Government’s positive messages about this. From where I stand, the decarbonisation agenda seems to be rather on the back foot and going in the wrong direction, but in this important area I really welcome the Government’s positive mood music. But there are a couple of other things. One was referred to strongly and effectively by the noble Baroness, Lady Worthington. If there is greater stakeholdership of CCS by the fossil fuel industry, there is likely to be more push for there to be a real effect and for something to happen. It is also an ongoing basis on which this technology can be funded, rather than on the erratic one-off mega-subsidies and funding systems that we have at the moment.

For those reasons, this is a really positive suggestion and a way in which we can start to move forward. It is also in line with the philosophy, with which we all agree, that the polluter pays—or it is in that ballpark, if not absolutely perfectly. For that reason, I was very pleased to put my name to the amendment, as it helps to bring that forward. But as other noble Lords have said, clearly this is the start of an idea. That is why it is absolutely right that the amendment talks about a consultation process, rather than saying that it should happen. So I very much welcome this amendment and welcome the Government’s positive view towards CCS, and I hope that this can be seen as a way of moving this agenda more practically forward than we have achieved in the past.