Greenhouse gas removal technologies   |   Study

Engineered greenhouse gas removals

The final report of our study looking at the potential for this technology to help the UK achieve its net zero emissions obligations.

Published: Updated: Tagged: Environment

In brief

Engineered greenhouse gas removals will become a major new infrastructure sector for the UK over the coming decades. The UK needs engineered removals to offset its hardest to abate emissions and achieve net zero. And it needs to act now.

Some of the UK’s most carbon intensive industries currently have no obligations to cut their emissions. But to achieve net zero, all sectors must reduce, prevent or offset all their emissions. Mitigation efforts are vital to deliver net zero. But for sectors like agriculture and aviation, there are currently no available technologies that can reduce or prevent all the sector’s emissions. This means net zero will not be possible without engineered removals.

Removing carbon dioxide from the air is expensive. This new sector could have revenues of £2 billion by 2030, and in the tens of billions by 2050. In the long term, polluting industries, not taxpayers, should bear these costs, paying for the engineered removals they need in a competitive market. But the costs should be phased in over time, and vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in society should be protected.

In the near term, government will need to support the initial deployment of a portfolio of engineered removals, using policy mechanisms to bring providers to commercial readiness. In time, government should support the transition to a competitive market, which will be the most efficient solution.

To achieve this, the Commission recommends:

  • government commits to deploy engineered removals at scale by 2030
  • removals must not reduce action on cutting emissions
  • a robust, independent monitoring regime is put in place
  • obligations on polluting sectors to buy removals should be phased in
  • government supports the first engineered removals plants to get a range of technologies to scale
  • polluters pay, but vulnerable groups in society are protected
  • ensuring the energy, water, and transport networks are prepared
  • ensuring carbon transport and storage networks are in place on time.

Too often, the UK has been too slow to deliver new infrastructure. With engineered removals, government has a chance to get ahead, act decisively, and deliver the sector in a well-managed way. Engineered removals are vital for the UK to deliver its ambitious climate targets. Therefore, government should ensure the first engineered removals plants are up and running no later than 2030, delivering 5-10 MtCO2e of removals per year

Drax Power Station at sunset, near Selby North Yorkshire

Status:  Completed

Greenhouse gas removal technologies

A study examining how emerging greenhouse gas removal technologies can support the UK's climate ambitions.

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Latest Updates

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Distributional impacts analysis of engineered greenhouse gas removals

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Policy mechanisms for supporting deployment of engineered greenhouse gas removal technologies

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Call for evidence submissions to greenhouse gas removals technology study

29 Jul 2021

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