New Technology Could Bring 4,000 New Jobs to the Tees Valley

30 October 2014

Systems which stop carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere could bring 4000 new jobs to the Tees Valley and protect over 14,000 local chemical and steel sector jobs. These figures were revealed at a major Carbon Capture and Storage conference in Scotland. Labour Member of the European Parliament for the North East Jude Kirton-Darling represented the region at the conference.

Neil Kenley from Tees Valley Unlimited, Jude Kirton-Darling MEP, and Sarah Tennison from Tees Valley Unlimited at the 'Carbon Capture Future for Europe' in Edinburgh

Jude spoke about how Carbon Capture and Storage technology could not only help the environment but create and maintain jobs in the development, manufacture and installation. Carbon Capture and Storage takes carbon emissions that otherwise would be released into the atmosphere and collects and stores them.

Tees Valley Unlimited estimate that Carbon Capture and Storage could create 4000 jobs in the Tees Valley. By making industry and manufacturing more environmentally sustainable Carbon Capture and Storage can also protect tens of thousands of well-paid jobs in local industries.

The Tees Valley is ideally suited to use this new technology and local industry could benefit from environmental improvements. The Government has allocated Tees Valley Unlimited £1m to investigate whether Carbon Capture could be used in the area.

Jude spoke at a conference called 'Carbon Capture Future for Europe' in Edinburgh organised by Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage. While the UK and the North East in particular could be a leader in this area we are in danger of falling behind. Last month a CCS facility opened at Boundary Dam in Canada.

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP said "Together with my Labour colleague Paul Brannen we have made the deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage in Europe one of our key regional priorities for the next 5 years. I believe that the Tees Valley has a particularly strong interest in Carbon Capture and Storage for three reasons: we have industrial, geographic and, most importantly, social interests that see CCS as part of our future.

"The development of CCS and the associated infrastructure further develops our long history of heavy industry and energy production which today employs thousands in the region, particularly across the Tees Valley - my home area - and our North Sea position and the offshore oil and gas network links.

"Carbon Capture and Storage must be a central element in the emerging European plans if we are to tackle climate change and rebalance our economies. CCS investment can create jobs today and protect jobs for decades to come".

Read Jude's speech here:

SCCS Conference: A CCS Future for Europe - Catalysing North Sea Action

29 October 2014

"The Added Value of CCS: Creating a Just Transition to a Low-carbon Economy"

First of all, I'd like to thank Stuart and SCCS for inviting me to address you today. I appreciate the invitation, not least given the recent vigorous debates about the future of the United Kingdom and the consequences of the Independence Referendum. As a Member of the European Parliament for the North East of England, I am personally convinced of the importance of cooperation between regions – both within the UK and across Europe. 

So while I would also like to thank the Scottish public for voting to remain within the UK, I do recognise that there is far more for us to do collectively to re-state the importance of our on-going union in the UK and the importance to the UK of remaining a positive and proactive member of the European Union.

While I’m here today as a ‘friend of CCS’ from within the European Parliament, I should start by highlighting that my engagement on CCS began before my election in May. My interest in CCS is tied closely to my commitment to a Just Transition towards a low carbon economy - this has been the focus of my work over the last decade within the trade union movement on sustainable industrial policy and economic restructuring.

As a union leader in the European TUC, and even before that when leading Europe's steelworkers, I was responsible for a series of projects looking at the need for a renewed industrial policy agenda, and the importance of tying this to the necessary transition towards a low carbon, resource efficient economy - an agenda which has the essential focus on maintaining and creating jobs in Europe. 

Within the trade union movement we had successive joint projects with employers in the social dialogue and within European and national technology platforms, specifically focusing on CCS - e.g. ULCOS in steel or the TUC's clean coal taskforce. I was the first union representative to serve on the Advisory Council of ZEP – so I am well used to the travails of the CCS sector in its attempts to move forward.

Today I represent the people of the North East of England in the European Parliament, notably as a substitute member of the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of the EP. 

Together with my Labour colleague Paul Brannen (who is a substitute member in the Environment Committee), we have made the deployment of CCS in Europe one of our key regional priorities for the next 5 years. 

I believe that the North East has a particularly stronginterest in CCS for three interlocking reasons: we haveindustrial, geographic and, most importantly, social interests that see CCS as part of our future.

Across these three motivations, the development of CCS and the associated infrastructure speaks to our long history of heavy industry and energy production which today employs thousands in the region, particularly across Teesside - my home area - and our North Sea position and the offshore oil and gas network links. 

It is also worth mentioning the North East's knowledge and skills to extract this energy through Underground Coal Gasification/Carbon Capture Technology (UGC-CCT), which is particularly of interest in the north end of the region. 

I know Sarah Tennison from Tees Valley Unlimited in speaking later this morning, to set out our regional strategic plan in which CCS plays a key role for Teesside. So I'll refrain from talking further about the industrial and geographic motivations for our interestand will focus instead on that 3rd element of why regions like mine matter. 

From my perspective, it is the social argument that I think could unlock widespread support for CCS. This is an opportunity not just in regions like my own but across Europe - but currently there are very few people making this case actively and audibly. Collectively, we need to do much better at this.

Before leaving the ETUC, I was involved in initiating a project to bring together actors at the regional level, primarily from within the trade union movement, but also involving employers, regional/local public authorities and regional policy experts, to use a series of regional case studies as a means of identifying and exchanging good practices and drawing together a set of recommendations. The project focused initially on Yorkshire (UK), North Rhein-Westphalia (DE) and Silesia (PL), but the aim was to draw in other interested regions.

These 3 first regions were selected due to their many similarities in terms of industrial heritage and current activity in the energy production and manufacturing industries. They each have peculiarities due to national policy and history. For each region, carbon capture and storage will be a key means of managing the transition minimising the loss of valuable industry and jobs. However, currently the debate on CCS and low carbon technology for industry and power is markedly different in each country included in the project. These differences indicate the difficulties of a joint EU energy and industrial policy strategy. 

So what does this mean for European approaches to CCS?

This parliamentary mandate will be a key period in the battle to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in the EU and globally. 

It is obvious to say that CCS deployment cannot take place without the active support of Member States and private investors. We urgently need to build the societal case for CCS and promote regional ambassadors for its deployment. Using alliances between workers, industry and local communities.

Carbon Capture and Storage must be a central element in the emerging EU plans if we are to simultaneously tackle climate change and rebalance our economies. The developing focus on an Energy Union between EU member states potentially offers us an opportunity as large as the Single Market offered in the early 1980s. When we talk about electricity and gas grids, we must also consider CCS infrastructure. 

We need to ensure we have the EU climate and energy framework right to promote CCS. At the moment, wehave last year's CCS Communication, this January's Communication on the 2030 energy and climate framework, which recognises the key role of CCS, and the review of the CCS Directive. It really concerns me that last Friday, we saw European leaders adopt Conclusions on the climate and energy targets for 2030 with only a passing reference to CCS. Positively, it was in the context of new funding for industrial innovation in the shape of a new NER400 fund. But it doesn’t yet provide a sense of urgency or present clearly a desire from member states for a comprehensive European strategy on CCS.

As noted by the Rapporteur in his notes on last December's European Parliament own intiative report on CCS, "neither the European Union nor its Member States have created a business model that promotes private investment. While developers of renewable energy have received cash subsidies courtesy of electricity users, CCS promotion has depended almost entirely upon carbon allowances being priced so high that investors would seek an alternative to buying them by ensuring that CO2 emissions were avoided". One of the effects of the weakness of the ETS is the lack of incentive to invest in CCS - in yet governments remained silent on how investment could be stimulated.

As a region Europe is falling behind in the deployment of CCS. Last month's opening of Boundary Dam in Canada indicated the level to which we are lagging. We urgently need to build a stronger coalition to ensure we are not completely left behind. The North Sea is an obvious centre of activity and cooperation. Today's conference is testament to that fact. We need to be supporting and developing similar regional initiatives elsewhere too.

CCS offers many opportunities for Europe. CCS can reduce CO2 emissions from both power and industry. And as we've seen with Jonas' work on biomass and CCS, it can even reduce the stock of CO2 in the atmosphere. 

CCS can provide a medium-term future for many of the fuel sources that currently are a vital part of the EU's energy mix, such as natural gas or coal. In January 2014, the Commission set out proposals for climate and energy targets for 2030. On the same day, recommendations on reindustrialising Europe were published by the Commission. A heavy emphasis was placed on regional clusters and innovation policies. While some regions in Europe have developed their local capacity and organised regional industrial clusters, others have not. A concerted attempt to join these 2 objectives is a key way to build regional clusters, grassroots support and industrial-public sector cooperation for CCS deployment.

The review of the CCS directive is also the next opportunity to identify options for supporting industrial CCS as a key job retention technology. The Commission should be looking to come forward with some more creative ideas that reward industry sectors for taking the next big step towards clean production. My experience from within the union movement is that by showing a positive way forward we can engage constructively across sectors and cooperate between regions.

I believe that this is way in which we will rebuild the political support for CCS, so that it is properly integrated into the EU’s thinking for 2030 as part of a low-carbon, resource-efficient and high-employment economy.

Thank you for listening.

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