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Fri, 27 November 2020

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The Prime Minister’s 10 point plan must focus on delivery

The Prime Minister’s 10 point plan must focus on delivery

Credit: MPA

Mineral Products Association

3 min read Partner content

The Mineral Products Association cautiously welcomes the Prime Minister’s ten-point plan for the environment but as is too often the case, we are left asking about delivery.

The Prime Minister's commitments on hydrogen and especially Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) are absolutely essential to allow our industry play its part in the UK reaching net zero.

The emphasis on natural solutions is also extremely welcome, as we have been delivering results in the form of planting trees, hedgerows and creating other high-quality habitats for many years at restored quarry sites.

Our members’ products are also essential for other parts of the transition, from renewable energy infrastructure and flood defences to homes that are more efficient to heat and also cool, an increasingly important energy concern in the coming years.

UK Concrete, an initiative launched by the MPA earlier this year, recently published the ‘Concrete and Cement Road Map to Beyond Net Zero’ which sets out how the industry could absorb more carbon dioxide than we emit by 2050. Although cement production accounts for just less than 1.5% of the UK’s emissions, it’s an important part of the industrial sector, which overall accounts for around 20% of emissions, in the transition to net zero.

Our plan uses a series of technology levers to get to net zero, including fuel switching and CCUS, which together with some of the inherent physical properties of concrete, will help to  deliver net negative emissions.

Absolute 2050 CO2 emissions reductions compared to 2018 - contribution to beyond net zero from each technology lever.

The challenge, as always, is delivery. CCUS has been seen as a part of the answer to decarbonisation for a long time but getting to the point of even a demonstrator plant at scale in the UK still feels some way off. In our recent CCUS paper we call on the Government to finance a waste biomass-fueled demonstrator plant.

We just need to ensure that Government works in conjunction with industry in order to deliver and achieve their plan.

There are also plenty of questions that still need answering around how the necessary transport and storage infrastructure will be funded, and what will be done to encourage a market in using carbon dioxide.

Clarity on a financial support model now would help businesses plan to deploy CCUS in the decades to come.

Hydrogen is rightly seen as an exciting opportunity for the future, and MPA and two of its members were awarded funding at the start of 2020 to run a trial at several sites in the cement and lime sectors.

Hydrogen also offers a potential replacement for diesel in the equipment and plant we use in our quarries in the longer term.

Finally, the PM’s enthusiasm for nature recovery is one we share and are already delivering on.

It’s not well known, but restored quarries offer some fantastic opportunities to provide biodiversity and of course natural carbon sinks and have been doing so for around 50 years.

Working with wildlife trusts and other charities at the end of a quarry’s life, our members have a demonstrable strong track record of huge net gain for wildlife, landscape and associated benefit for climate.

We would not expect fully-formed plans in a newspaper column, but to make good on his ambitions the Prime Minister and the rest of Government need to focus now on delivery.

The ambition is obviously there and the goals seem right to us.

We just need to ensure that Government works in conjunction with industry in order to deliver and achieve their plan.

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