Net zero minister Grant Shapps has confirmed the UK will back President Biden’s drive to remove and store global carbon emissions as it forges closer links with the United States on energy security.
The announcement came last week as Shapps undertook a four-day visit to the US, aiming to strengthen the relationship between the two nations. The primary objective of this trip is to bolster energy security for the UK by minimising its reliance on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s influence in global energy markets.
During his visit, Shapps held meetings with high-ranking officials from the Biden administration, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The discussions focused on exploring collaborative opportunities with an initiative put forward by President Biden called the Challenge.
Launched at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate Change (MEF) in April, the Challenge encourages participating countries to prioritise decarbonising their energy systems, putting an end to deforestation, and advancing the development and adoption of technologies for carbon removal.
“Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine has had the exact opposite effect from what he wanted – rather than wilting in the face of his tyranny, we’ve stood firm and united and are neutralising his blackmail,” said Shapps.
“Our resolve has strengthened our relationships around the world, and nowhere more so than with the US, where we are forging ever-closer links to deliver cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy – ensuring the likes of Putin can never again hold the world to ransom.
“We’re world leaders in renewable technologies and by supporting President Biden’s Carbon Management Challenge we are taking a step closer to realising our huge potential and be at the forefront of this exciting industry of the future.”
Carbon capture controversy
Critics of carbon removal technologies argue that it is still in the early stages of commercial development, and should not be relied upon by businesses as the primary solution for reducing emissions. Those involved in the carbon removal market admit these technologies should not replace decarbonisation efforts, but rather complement them, particularly in challenging sectors like power generation, cement production, and steel manufacturing.
According to the UK Government, the country is well placed to pursue carbon storage, with vast storage potential in the North Sea and other carbon sinks, also boosting the economy by £8 billion and creating 50,000 new jobs.
The private sector is also on-board. Alongside initiatives focused on avoiding carbon emissions, some companies, like Shopify, have embraced the technology. Announcing in 2021 that it had purchased the largest amount of Direct Air Capture (DAC) carbon removal in history.
Start ups as a solution
Shopify isn’t alone in a push for carbon capture. The Frontier Fund is a $925 million “advance market commitment” (AMC) set up by software firm Stripe to invest in carbon removal offsets — along with funding from corporate giants Alphabet, Meta and McKinsey.
The fund focuses on evaluating early-stage startups that are actively engaged in carbon removal to provide financial support to accelerate the development of the technology.
Announced earlier this week, the fund signed its largest deal to date, worth $53m (£43m) with start-up Charm Industrial to remove as much as 112,000 tons of carbon by 2030.
Since starting operations in 2021, Charm Industrial claims to be one of the first companies to successfully remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere permanently, having to date injected over 6,000 tonnes of previously atmospheric CO2 into solid underground rock storage through its technology pilots
Peter Reinhardt, co-founder and CEO of Charm Industrial, said the agreement would enable the firm to further accelerate the roll-out of its technology.
“An offtake, especially one of this size, lets us move meaningfully faster than we’d otherwise be able to, accelerating essentially all aspects of our technology and operations,” he explained. “Frontier has been an incredibly rigorous buyer, testing and pushing our limits across science, operations, engineering, finance, and our future cost curves.”
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