Extinction Rebellion protest against government's ‘disappointing’ energy strategy

·3-min read
Extinction Rebellion protesters outside Culham Science Centre <i>(Image: Zoe Broughton, Extinction Rebellion)</i>
Extinction Rebellion protesters outside Culham Science Centre (Image: Zoe Broughton, Extinction Rebellion)

Extinction Rebellion was at Culham Science Centre yesterday (March 30) to protest against Grant Shapps’s new energy strategy.

Rishi Sunak joined the Energy Security Secretary at the lab run by the UK Atomic Energy Authority, in Abingdon to unveil the ‘powering up Britain’ strategy.

The strategy prioritises the technology of carbon capture and storage (CCS), with a key part in announcing the UK's first carbon capture sites in Teesside.

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These sites take carbon dioxide produced during the burning of fossil fuels like gas and store them in deep caverns under the North Sea.

According to the Guardian, more than 700 scientists have written to Shapps, asking him to reconsider the reliance on CCS, which is “yet to be proved at scale”.

April Jones, from Extinction Rebellion Oxford, said: "This strategy is heart-crushingly disappointing.

"The overwhelming majority of people in this country want real climate action, they are rightly very worried by what climate change is going to look like over the coming years.

"The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that came out on Monday was very clear that we absolutely cannot afford to develop any more fossil fuel sources if we want a liveable future.

"But Grant Shapps’s plan is basically to keep digging up fossil fuels, crossing our fingers that CCS technology, which hasn’t worked at scale yet, will eventually be able to clean up the mess.

"This is totally irresponsible, and a failure of the British people.”

Tabitha, a local mum who organised the protest, said, “I’m very angry about the new energy plan announced today and wanted to do something.

"The IPCC report has been clear this is our final warning. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. This plan is gambling with our future.

"We need massive investment in technologies, such as renewables and home insulation, that exist today as well as policies that will support us to stop excessive and wasteful consumption.”

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Mr Shapps acknowledged that “we’re not there yet” on carbon capture technology, but said it could eventually “bring in a lot of money”.

He told GB News: “There’s something called carbon capture utilisation and storage, it’s a method of capturing carbon and then storing it largely under the sea, actually in the old oil and gas locations.

“And we probably have the ability to store billions if not trillions of pounds worth of other people’s carbon in those locations.”

When challenged over his use of the word “probably”, the Cabinet minister said: “We know that you can actually do this. It’s technically possible to do. Yes, there are lots of practical implications of doing it. But it could be a market worth trillions of pounds.

“To put this into perspective, we’ve got space to store about 78 billion tonnes of carbon and that would be enough for the whole of Europe’s carbon for 250 years. That could bring in a lot of money to the UK…

“We’re not there yet, but if we get there and Britain has a leading role in this, then we can bring energy security to every single one of your viewers.”