• Research shows reliance on CCS endangers climate safety goals
  • 81% of Carbon captured to date has been used to increase fossil fuel extraction
  • CCS labelled ‘dangerous distraction’ from working climate solutions of renewables, energy efficiency

A new report released today (11/1/21) from climate experts reveals that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology cannot meet the urgent need to reduce climate emissions.

The research identified that, despite enthusiastic support, the technology is not a viable option for the rapid emissions cuts required in energy over the crucial years to 2030.

There are no operational CCS plants in the UK today and significant deployment is not expected until at least the next decade. Globally, there are just 26 CCS plants in operation, far short of projected development over the last two decades. The technology has consistently failed to deliver on projections with several schemes initiated and ultimately abandoned.

The report by the Tyndall Centre, commissioned by Global Witness and Friends of the Earth Scotland, also revealed that the vast majority (81%) of carbon captured globally to date has been used to extract more oil via the process of Enhanced Oil Recovery.

The report highlights that industry, and its supporters in Government, have a long history of over-promising and under-delivering. Two £1bn CCS competitions run by successive UK Governments over a period of 8 years failed to produce a CCS demonstration scheme.

In the UK Governments’ recent 10-point climate plan, Boris Johnson pledged a further £200m investment into CCS initiatives. In December’s update to the Climate Change Plan, the Scottish Government announced £80 million of funding to support the development of Carbon Capture and Storage and other ‘Negative Emission Technologies’ in Scotland.

Campaigners are instead calling for a re-direction of investments to back a range of readily deployable renewables and energy efficiency for homes which would create more jobs, more quickly, cut climate emissions and improve people’s quality of life.

Friends of the Earth Scotland’s Climate Campaigner Jess Cowell said:

“The world needs urgent cuts to climate emissions every year of this decade but CCS can’t deliver anything meaningful until the 2030s, if at all. Politicians and CCS’ backers in the fossil fuel industry want us to trust them with a technology with a long history of over-promising and under-delivering.

“The shocking revelations that the small number of existing Carbon Capture plants in existence are almost all being used to increase fossil fuel extraction must give pause to anyone who is pushing this as a realistic solution to the climate crisis.

“The Scottish Government plan of relying on CCS to do the heavy lifting of emissions cuts by 2030 isn’t remotely credible when there isn’t a single working CCS plant anywhere in the UK.

“Public money would deliver more jobs, faster emissions cuts and bigger boosts to wellbeing if it was invested in a range of renewables and energy efficiency measures instead of being wasted on more illusory Carbon Capture projects.

“This report makes it clear that Carbon Capture and Storage is a dangerous distraction from the necessary action to cut climate emissions from our energy sector in this crucial decade. Instead we need a bold plan setting out steps to phase out fossil fuel extraction and use, while ensuring a just transition for workers and communities dependent on the industry.

“Carbon is already captured and stored underground in fossil fuels. We should be leaving it there instead of spending billions trying to invent technology to solve this problem of our own creation.”

Key findings from the report:

  • Global operational CCS capacity is currently 39MtCO2 per year, this is about 0.1% of annual global emissions from fossil fuels and less than Scotland’s territorial emissions in 2018.
  • There is no operational CCS capacity in the UK yet the UK Committee on Climate Change project CCS capacity of up to 176MtCO2 by 2050. This would mean that the UK would require quadrupling the entire current global CCS capacity.
  • There are just 26 operational CCS plants in the world, with 81% of carbon captured to date used to extract more oil via the process of Enhanced Oil Recovery [EOR], and at this stage CCS planned deployment remains dominated by EOR.
  • G8 committed to launch 20 large scale projects by 2010, IEA set a goal of 100 projects by 2020, only 5 materialised, two £1bn UK competitions have failed to deliver any demonstration projects.
  • Fossil fuel-based CCS is not capable of operating with zero emissions. Many projections assume a capture rate for CCS of 95%, however, capture rates at that level are unproven in practice. In the context of fossil fuel hydrogen, the report explicitly states that there must be consideration of whether this energy is sufficiently low-carbon relative to remaining carbon budgets.


“A Review of Role of Fossil Fuel-Based Carbon Capture and Storage in the Energy System”
Tyndall Centre, January 2021

This page includes a link to the full report along with summary briefing of the report findings

Carbon Capture and Storage is a system of technologies involving separating and capturing carbon dioxide from other gases before it enters the atmosphere, converting the gas into a liquid form for transport by pipeline or tanker. The carbon dioxide is then usually to be pumped deep underground with monitoring essential to ensure long-term storage.

Tyndall Centre Manchester undertakes world-class research to deliver agenda-setting insights on energy and climate change.

Scotland’s Climate Change Plan Update (Dec 2020) included the launch of a £180 million Emerging Energy Technologies Fund to support the development of Scottish hydrogen and Carbon Capture and Storage industries, and support the development of ‘Negative Emissions Technologies‘

Prime Minister’s Ten Point Climate Plan (Nov 2020) included an extra £200 million of new funding for CCS

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, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.

Global Witness is an international organisation with offices in London, Washington DC and Brussels. Our goal is a more sustainable, just and equal planet. We want climate-critical forests and biodiversity to thrive and fossil fuels to stay in the ground. We want corporations to respect the planet and human rights, governments to protect and listen to their citizens, and the online world to be free from misinformation and hate.