Explaining some of the major problems with the speculative technologies that big business is pushing as climate solutions.

Years of climate inaction has meant that many governments around the world are trying to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as well as cutting emissions. The attempts at removing these carbon dioxide emissions are often called Negative Emission Technologies (NETs), many of which are unproven, expensive and inefficient to meet our climate commitments.

There is a real risk that relying on these false solutions and speculative technologies will divert support, resources and money away from proven and far more effective solutions to the climate crisis. If Scotland is to meet its climate commitments and contribute its fair share we must take urgent action today rather than waiting for these speculative solutions.

This page will guide you explain some of the major problems with these technologies.

Hydrogen

Currently, hydrogen is being marketed as a way to decarbonise sectors like transport, heating and heavy industry. However, despite what proponents claim, hydrogen production is incredibly inefficient, expensive to produce and the vast majority of it is still made using fossil fuels.

Relying on hydrogen to cut emissions and meet our climate targets is incredibly risky and runs the risk of diverting resources and finances away from more readily available and proven solutions to the climate crisis which don’t keep us locked into fossil fuels.

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is supposed to work in three main phases: capturing carbon dioxide (e.g from an energy plant), transporting the captured carbon dioxide to a desired location, and then storing it deep underground.

However, the reality is that CCS has for decades been proposed as a silver bullet solution for cutting carbon emissions. Despite billions of dollars in funding and years of research, there are no CCS plants anywhere in the world that effectively capture and store carbon dioxide at the scale promised.

Crucially, CCS plants do little to stop the extraction and burning of fossil fuels, instead relying on them as a fuel source to create things like hydrogen.

Kemper County Coal CCS plant in 2013. The project failed in 2017.
Credit: XTUV0010 via Wikicommons

Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS)

Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS) refers to the process of growing crops of plants or trees, cutting them down and burning them for fuel to generate energy. The carbon dioxide emissions that come from this process are theoretically meant to then be captured and stored deep underground.

To date, there are no known BECCS plants that can capture and store carbon. If they ever became feasible at the required it could have disastrous impacts on wildlife and nature as well as food, land and water availability. Vast amounts of land and chemical fertilisers would be needed to produce the crops and trees.

Climate solutions that work

Instead of these dangerous and unproven technologies, we should implement the solutions that we know will work to cut emissions and improve lives. A programme of climate action can create thousands of good jobs across the country while setting us on the right path to meet our climate commitments.

We have spelled out 10 steps for the Scottish Government to take to achieve this and deliver a Just Transition away from fossil fuels.

Learn about Carbon Capture & Storage

What is Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), how feasible is it and why should we be worried about its false positioning as a climate solution?

This briefing answers these questions, and sets out our deep concerns about the growing push for public investment in CCS from fossil fuels companies.

Learn about Hydrogen

There are large scale plans to develop hydrogen in Scotland to use in heating, transport and other ways. This guide explains why we should be deeply sceptical about these projects

It shows how Blue Hydrogen relies on both fossil fuels and unproven Carbon Capture Storage (CCS) technology. Meanwhile, Green Hydrogen is an inefficient and expensive use of renewable electricity.

Learn about BioEnergy with Carbon Capture (BECCS)

BECCS is a highly speculative technology, unproven at the scale imagined in the UK. But it is being considered by the Scottish Government as part of its climate plans.

This briefing spells out the threat it poses in terms of destroying forests, creating vast monoculture plantations, and increasing pressures on land and resources.