By Nina Chestney
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will struggle to meet its goals for emission reductions after it shelved a billion-pound scheme to help commercialize carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology last year, lawmakers said on Wednesday.
In December, nearly 200 nations agreed in Paris to limit greenhouse gas emissions to slow global warming. CCS, which captures carbon dioxide and stores it underground to stop it escaping into the atmosphere, has been seen as an important tool to achieve that.
CCS is ready to pilot on power stations on a large scale, but the transportation and storage infrastructure needed requires a large up-front investment.
The government's decision last year to abandon a scheme to commercialize CCS will delay the technology's development in Britain and could make it more difficult for the country to meet its emission-reduction commitments agreed in Paris, the Energy and Climate Change Committee said in a report.
"If we don't invest in the infrastructure needed for carbon capture and storage technology now, it could be much more expensive to meet our climate change targets in the future," Angus MacNeil, chair of the committee, said in a statement.
"Getting the infrastructure in place takes time and the government needs to ensure that we can start fitting gas-fired power stations with carbon capture and storage technology in the 2020s," he added.
The government's Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it had not closed the door to CCS technology and it is considering the role it can play as it should come down in cost.
"As part of our ongoing work to get Britain’s finances back on track, we have had to take difficult decisions to control government spending," a DECC spokesperson said.
The committee also urged the government to assess the financial benefits of using existing oil and gas infrastructure in the North Sea to help commercialize the technology, such as using depleted oilfields.
(Reporting by Nina Chestney; editing by Dale Hudson and Jason Neely)