Energy Bill [HL] - Commons Amendments

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 12th April 2016.

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Photo of Baroness Featherstone Baroness Featherstone Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change) 5:45 pm, 12th April 2016

My Lords, it is our view on these Benches that carbon capture and storage and transportation should have been woven into the principal objective of the OGA. I hear what the Minister says, but it leaves me some concerns. Although the Government have made many arguments and given many assurances about the importance of carbon capture and storage, we on these Benches are not completely convinced.

I wish to raise with the Government some points which still give us great concern about the level of commitment to carbon capture and storage and indeed about their ability to deliver on our legally binding targets. If CCS is not going to be integral to the principal objective and functions of the OGA, we might have had more confidence and assurance if Her Majesty’s Government had agreed to an earlier amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Oxburgh, to which my noble friend Lord Teverson added his name, which would have required the Government to undertake and develop a national strategy for carbon capture and storage. CCS is such a vital part of decarbonisation for the period when carbon is still being produced that we have grave concerns in this regard.

On Report in this House, the Minister made great efforts to assure the House of the Government’s commitment to carbon capture and storage and about the money invested—£130 million since 2011 to support research, development and innovations to foster the next generation of CCS technologies. In Committee, the Minister assured us:

“It is not as though no work is happening on carbon capture and storage. We are committed to a competition with up to £1 billion capital—that is current, and we will make an announcement on it early in 2016”.—[Official Report, 7/9/15; col. 1230.]

That was on 7 September 2015. On 25 November 2015, Her Majesty’s Government cancelled that £1 billion Conservative manifesto pledge, as was stated in this House.

I simply say to the Minister that actions speak louder than words, so perhaps he will understand that we on these Benches would like to trust the Government’s words, but they have made it somewhat difficult. Time will, of course, tell, but I remind the Minister that carbon capture and storage is a vital component of our ability to meet our carbon emissions targets. The establishment of the OGA was an opportunity to embed proper regard and action on transportation and storage. That is now an opportunity lost.