I met John Hutton, Secretary of State for Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform at the launch of the “London Accord”, in the Mansion House. I tackled him about the cancellation of the Carbon Capture and Storage that BP were going to pilot at Peterhead. In 2003, I had been part of a Citizens’ Panel on CCS organised by the Tyndal Centre. Phil Willis MP was the chair of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
21st December 2007
To John Hutton MP
Dear Secretary of State,
It was good to meet you at the London Accord launch. Thank you for speaking to me.
You may remember I mentioned that I had recently spoken to Phil Willis about the Carbon Capture project at Peterhead. It seemed that he was very frustrated that it has not gone ahead. I understand the argument that you put forward: that if it had gone ahead with government support, without a proper bidding process, then ten other companies would be complaining that BP had an unfair advantage. But it does seem that the project has been put back, at least a year and possibly indefinitely. BP could also take their skills elsewhere: China, Australia & etc.
Carbon capture is obviously an important technology in the fight against climate change. China is completing several coal fired stations each month. Phil Willis told me, if I remember correctly, that a Chinese minister had said to him about carbon capture “When you it. We’ll do it.” Even allowing for any Chinese whispers effect, there is a clear message here.
Whether carbon capture can actually play a real part in combating climate change is not the crucial point. The impression appears to be that the British Government is more interested in energy security and less interested in climate change. Support for carbon capture would be a clear indication to the international community that Britain really does take climate change seriously.
Speaking to representatives from BP at the launch, I had the impression that they would still be interested in the Peterhead project. I may be reading too much into the following quote from the London Accord, which is supported by BP, but it seems to summarise the current position:
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies will fail to play a major role in stabilising CO2 concentrations in the next two decades – due to the lack of price signals, plus missing technology and absent regulatory and legal enablers.
I would be pleased to offer some suggestions if you think it would be appropriate. Unless you tell me it would be counter-productive, I will encourage BP to come forward with alternative proposals, which might be within the current legal framework. However, it is my view that this matter is important enough to justify primary legislation.
It was good to meet you.
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