Firstly, what is carbon capture?

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) refers to different technologies designed to stop carbon dioxide emissions from places like power plants or factories from entering the atmosphere and worsening climate change.

CCS is meant to work in three stages:

simple diagram explaining three stages of carbon capture and storage

The reality is a lot different than that oversimplification. In fact there are many people who think that CCS is a dangerous distraction from the vital climate solution of stopping fossil fuels. Here are just a few of the problems with CCS:

CCS has a long history of failure

CCS has been over promised and failing to deliver as a tool to fight climate change for decades.

Billions of pounds have been spent across the globe trying to prop up CCS technology and yet there are no working CCS plants in the UK, and no consistently working CCS plants in power generation anywhere on earth. The evidence demonstrates that CCS plants continually underperform, or face a myriad of technical issues, or are shut down entirely.

Furthermore, carbon capture does not trap all the emissions created from a polluting source like a power station. For example, the world’s only CCS coal plant in Canada was shown to be regularly breaking down and only capturing 44% of emissions despite the developers promising a 90% capture rate.

Petra Nova CCS project – part of WA Parish Generating Plant in Texas. By RM VM – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=87147959

Carbon capture also does not effectively reduce the extremely potent greenhouse gas methane, which has a global warming potential 25 times higher than carbon dioxide. Methane leaks out from the transportation of fossil gas to the power plant.

An often-ignored problem of carbon capture is known as “the energy penalty”. The process of capturing carbon requires additional energy and therefore creates emissions that tend to go uncounted or not reported on by those peddling the technology.

CCS will keep households locked into high energy prices

What we are seeing in Scotland and around the globe is carbon capture being used to justify the continued expansion of oil and gas infrastructure. Not only is the climate science clear that we must rapidly move away from fossil fuels, but we also know that oil and gas is driving the cost-of-living crisis.

New CCS projects attached to gas infrastructure like Peterhead will keep Scottish households trapped into paying energy bills that are linked to international gas prices.

woman holding handwritten sign reading 'i cant afford oil & gas neither can the planet'
Protestor at Edinburgh Climate March in 2022.

Big energy companies are making record profits while at the same time people are struggling to pay their energy bills and record numbers of people in Scotland are living in fuel poverty.

Instead of keeping people locked into an unaffordable and climate-damaging energy system by backing CCS, we need government funding for mass retrofitting programmes for warmer homes. This must be done whilst providing targeted financial support for those who need it most and backing a clear transition to a renewable energy system that is run in the public good.

CCS could turn the North Sea into Europe’s carbon dumping ground

If carbon is captured in Scotland, companies want to store it in geological formations under the North Sea and the Scottish Government wants to make the North Sea Europe’s carbon dumping ground.

The Scottish Government estimate up to 46 Gigatonnes of carbon could be stored from different projects all over Europe, which is over 1,000 times as much climate pollution as Scotland produces in a year! Polluters from around Europe could end up shipping or piping huge amounts of cabon emissions to attempt to store under the sea off Scotland.

If it ever works at scale, there has been zero government or industry acknowledgement of the burden this puts on future generations who will have to continue to monitor that carbon for thousands of years. The costs will be borne by our grandchildren, and it is their lives and climate at risk from carbon leaking in the future.

There have been carbon pipelines that have burst and consequently poisoned people in Mississippi, USA and even the most studied storage fields in the world in Norway have shown that carbon can unexpectedly move or be rejected by the storage site its injected into.

The fossil fuel industry’s latest greenwash tactic

CCS allows major polluters to keep going with business as usual whilst promising a shiny new technology that’s always just around the corner. This industry propaganda keeps power and profit in the hands of those who are wrecking the planet and props up the same systems of extractivism and colonialism that are driving the climate crisis.

Governments in the UK and around the world are buying the rhetoric that CCS can allow industry to keep polluting without consequence and gambling our climate targets by giving public money to pursue this toxic pipe dream.

However, the Scottish Government have the ability to stop carbon capture from taking hold by rejecting the proposal for a new gas burning power station with CCS being built in Scotland. The Scottish Government have the final say on if this project goes ahead and must heed both the science and moral obligation to transition away from fossil fuels and back a cleaner, greener future instead.

Other proven options to meet our climate commitments already exist

The bottom line is that the most effective way to stop emissions from entering the atmosphere is by not creating them in the first place by stopping burning fossil fuels.

Rich countries like Scotland should be leading the way by rapidly and fairly moving away from fossil fuels and implementing solutions that we know work and are available to deploy now.

1 in 3 households in Scotland are in fuel poverty. If you are one of these people, insulating your home can deliver a long-term reduction in your energy bills and improvements in your quality of life. Compare that to Ministers spending millions on CCS to make the energy that comes to your home slightly less polluting but still as unaffordable.

There is a huge opportunity in scaling up renewables and energy efficiency measures which can help get us off fossil fuels and create green jobs right across the country.

As you can see, the case against CCS is damning. Carbon capture is being pushed by the fossil fuel industry and should not be part of our energy future. The entire scheme to build an additional gas burning plant in Peterhead is built on the rotten foundations of carbon capture.

So stopping the Peterhead plant is critical to stopping this technology being used to extend the life of the climate destroying oil and gas industry.

Sign this petition to call on Scottish Government Ministers to reject new fossil fuel power with CCS at Peterhead