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Geological Society welcomes Energy and Climate Change Committee report on Carbon Capture and Storage

21 May 2014

The Geological Society welcomes the report of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee on Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

The report is right to point out that we can have a high level of confidence in the safe and secure disposal of CO2 underground. The science and engineering associated with CCS are not significant barriers to large-scale delivery of CCS – the principle constraints are political and economic.

Since 2010, together with the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the Geological Society has convened a series of workshops on CCS.  The last of these workshops in April 2014, led by geologists from the University of Cambridge, University of Queensland and University of Texas at Austin, concluded that conventional geological storage of CO2 is safe, and can play a significant role in the transition to a low-carbon economy.

Dr Jerome Neufeld (University of Cambridge), one of the convenors of the workshop, said: “CCS in depleted oil and gas reservoirs and other ‘conventional’ geological settings is a low risk technology with huge potential to reduce future carbon emissions.  If this potential is to be realised, urgent action is needed to develop subsurface storage capacity at a far faster rate than at present.  The geology of the UK’s near offshore, and its history of oil and gas exploration and production in the North Sea, presents a major opportunity for the UK to play a leading role in the global development of CCS technology.”

The rocks beneath our feet contain extensive evidence of past changes in climate. This evidence is entirely independent of present day atmospheric measurements and climate modelling.  It shows that when large amounts of carbon have been released into the atmosphere in the distant past, the result has been increased temperatures, more acidic and less oxygenated oceans, and widespread extinction of species.  (See the Geological Society’s 2010 statement and 2013 addendum on ‘Climate Change: Evidence from the Geological Record’ at 

Humankind is well on its way to repeating such an event. Controlling our emissions of carbon by storing  CO2 safely underground would go some way towards dealing with the urgent threat of climate change.

Notes for editors

  • The Geological Society of London, founded 1807, is a learned and professional body of over 11,00 Earth scientists with a remit to investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence. The Society offers advice to Parliament and Government, at individual and corporate levels. Registered Charity No. 210161.