Three energy firms announced plans on Tuesday to develop the world’s first net zero-emissions industrial zone in the northeast of England by 2040, a move they said could help Britain meet its climate targets.
The United Kingdom earlier this year set a target to reach net zero emissions by 2050. It has made good progress in reducing emissions from the power sector but emissions from industry have so far proven harder to curb.
Under the scheme, power firm Drax, oil company Equinor and power grid operator National Grid plan to cut emissions at several industrial sites around the Humber estuary, using technology to capture, store and use carbon dioxide emissions and by using hydrogen as an emission-free fuel for heating and transport.
“By working together across industry sectors, we can protect UK jobs, drive further economic growth and help the country achieve critically important climate goals that will significantly benefit current and future generations,” said Jon Butterworth, chief operating officer, Global Transmission at National Grid Ventures, in a joint statement.
The region is host to two of the country’s six major oil refineries, several chemical factories and British Steel’s Scunthorpe steelworks.
If the project is successful, around 53 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or around 15 percent of Britain’s annual emissions, could be captured each year, according to research carried out by consultancy Element Energy on behalf of the companies.
The project would also help to safeguard around 55,000 jobs in the region, the companies said.
The companies said government support would be needed to take the project forward, and called on all British political parties to adopt the plans in their manifestos ahead of a December 12 general election.
The announcement coincides with the decision by United States President Donald Trump to formally inform the United Nations that it is pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement.