Environmental campaigners have called on the Scottish Government to come up with a plan to ‘plug the gap’ in their climate plans after the Carbon Capture project at Acorn once again failed to gain funding from the UK Government.

In 2020 the Scottish Government Climate Change Plan update pledged approx 19% of efforts to meet 2030 climate targets will be achieved by negative emissions technologies such as carbon capture, rising to 25% of emission reductions by 2032. The Scottish Government had forecast that Acorn would be in operation from 2024. 

Climate campaigners say that instead of being over-reliant on these ‘dangerous distractions’ Ministers should be rolling out ready to go climate solutions that will rapidly reduce our use of fossil fuels such as increased home insulation and the expansion of affordable and accessible public transport.

Ministers have previously been warned by Holyrood committees, the UK Climate Change Committee and climate activists that they need a ‘plan B’ for when carbon capture fails to deliver. Despite admitting that carbon capture will not deliver in time to help meet 2030 targets, the Scottish Government has neglected to act to address the shortfall in climate action.

Lack of progress on Acorn will be a major blow to the proposals to build an additional gas-fired power station at Peterhead which was predicated on the ability to add Carbon Capture to the plant at some unspecified later date which Acorn would have supported. 

Friends of the Earth Scotland climate campaigner Alex Lee said

“The story of carbon capture in Scotland is one of continuous, expensive failure. The repeated failure of Acorn to get off the ground means that the Scottish Government must act now to plug the huge gap in their climate plans. 

“Humza Yousaf and his new cabinet must wake up and realise that carbon capture and other so-called negative emissions technologies are a dangerous distraction from the urgent and necessary work of cutting emissions at source and delivering a just transition away from fossil fuels. 

“After nearly 20 years of industry promises and a complete failure to deliver, investment must be redirected to climate solutions such as home insulation and improved public transport that we know can improve peoples’ lives as they deliver immediate cuts to emissions.

“The UK Government should not continue to throw billions of public money at the fossil fuel industry, prolonging its climate-wrecking activities through the carbon capture fantasies at Acorn or anywhere else. Politicians must stop subsidising some of the most profitable polluters on the planet.”

Politicians and companies have been pleading for more public money for the Acorn project, despite Acorn partners Shell making $40 billion in profit in 2022, and Harbour Energy making $2 billion in profit before tax in the first half of 2022. The Acorn project appears to be totally reliant on further public subsidy to progress.

UK Government CCS track 1 cluster list ​​ https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/cluster-sequencing-phase-2-eligible-projects-power-ccus-hydrogen-and-icc/cluster-sequencing-phase-2-track-1-project-negotiation-list-march-2023

The Acorn project was previously rejected for track 1 status in October 2021.

Scottish Government Climate Change Plan update – p253 details the proportion of emissions reductions attributed to Negative Emission Technologies.

Detailed timeline of 20 years of CCS failure, along with sources, is available at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1km5E_MmrD-Dkuf2LRGCqffqNIXyoCqeEzR1IR6lw63Q/edit?usp=sharing

Screengrab from the Acorn website in 2020 showing their predicted timeline of Carbon Capture deployment https://drive.google.com/file/d/1p1OoAldVtToaB2yCTDnhOzjOp0c-P-P9/view?usp=sharing

Partners in the Acorn project https://www.theacornproject.uk/about-acorn/our-partners

Friends of the Earth Scotland is:
* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation
* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland
* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 73 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.