Product has been added to the basket

House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee - Future Challenges in Energy and Climate Change Policy

The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change has launched an inquiry into the work of the committee over this parliament and asks what are the immediate challenges which need to be overcome in the next parliament. Details for the inquiry, along with the Terms of Reference can be found on the government website. The submission produced by the Geological Society can be found below:

Submitted 15 December 2014

  1. The Geological Society’s reputation for providing high-quality evidence on matters in which we are expert depends in part on recognising the limits of our remit. It is beyond our competence to offer recommendations about the overall shape of the UK’s energy system at 2030 – a matter of political and economic judgment which must draw on a wide range of expertise, including our own. Instead, we highlight below some of the opportunities and challenges identified by those in the geoscience community, which may inform these judgments.
  2. Effective public communication about climate change is vitally important. At present, the science underpinning public discourse on climate change is dominated by a limited range of disciplinary approaches and evidence bases, principally atmospheric science and predictive climate modelling, making it vulnerable to attack on these aspects of the science base. The geological record contains abundant evidence of how Earth’s climate has changed over hundreds of millions of years, including during periods of rapidly increasing atmospheric carbon levels (see Paying greater attention to this independent evidence base, and developing alternative narratives of environmental change which draw on it, has the potential to deepen public understanding of climate change, and to add resilience to efforts to build the trust of the public.
  3. Our responses to inquiries into shale gas by the ECC Committee and others ( have addressed the geoscience relating to shale gas exploration and extraction, local and global environmental risks, and energy security. Fossil fuels will remain a crucial part of the energy mix in the medium term, however rapidly we decarbonise the system. The UK has substantial shale resources, together with relevant expertise and infrastructure to extract them. This can be done safely, given sufficient care and attention, and, alongside other domestic energy sources, could contribute to our energy security. This does not mean that natural gas (conventional or unconventional) can be extracted and used with impunity. We agree that shale gas extraction at scale would increase the ‘urgency of bringing carbon capture and storage technology to the market and making it work for gas as well as coal’ (Select Committee Announcement 45a, 23 May 2011).
  4. As we will depend on fossil fuels for decades at least (with or without shale gas), rapid development of CCS is crucial to meeting decarbonisation obligations and avoiding dangerous climate change. The significant storage potential under the North Sea and the UK’s strong research base and history of academic/hydrocarbons industry collaboration place the UK ideally to take a leading role in global development of CCS. Full chain demonstration at scale and development of storage capacity are urgently required. (
  5. Nuclear power may also contribute to decarbonising our energy system. In any case, a long-term solution for management of the UK’s substantial volumes of legacy waste is essential. The geological community will play a vital role in siting and implementing a geological disposal facility (GDF), and the Geological Society is closely involved in the revised siting process. Delivery will take many decades, and will depend on sustained political will, economic commitment and public engagement. (