The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee has announced an inquiry into efforts to kickstart carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS).

The inquiry will examine the government’s commitment to CCUS and whether it has a “Plan B” to meet the UK’s climate change targets if desired reductions in the cost of deploying the technology fail to materialise.

It will probe how essential CCUS is for the UK to meet its carbon emission reduction targets to 2050.

In addition, it will look at how the government sets targets for reducing the cost of CCUS and how these can be usefully benchmarked. And it will assess the realistic level of cost reduction to aim for and as how the alternatives to CCUS compare.

The government’s Clean Growth Strategy (CGS), published last year, sets out its aim to “deploy CCUS at scale during the 2030s, subject to costs coming down sufficiently.”

The government has established a CCUS cost challenge taskforce to explore options to bring forward cost reductions, which is due to report this summer.

The moves outlined in the CGS follow the abandonment by the government of a £1 billion programme to support research and development into CCUS in 2015.

CCUS is the process of capturing carbon dioxide from waste gases, which can then either be locked up as carbon dioxide in long-term storage or used in industrial processes.

Rachel Reeves MP, chair of the committee, said: “Carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) is expected to play an essential part in meeting the UK’s carbon budgets. Yet the government’s budget to kick-start CCUS has been cut from £1 billion to £100 million.

“In this inquiry, we want to test the government’s ambitions in this area and to examine what policy levers need to be pulled to make large-scale CCUS a reality in the future.

“Clearer policy signals are needed if we are to create a market and commercialise this technology into the 2030s. If the government judge the costs are such that CCUS is not a viable option, then they must spell out an alternative if the UK is to meet its carbon emission reduction targets.”

The BEIS committee is inviting short written submissions to feed into the CCUS inquiry by 22 June.

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