When the Government passed laws in June 2019 that set binding targets for the UK to reduce greenhouse emissions to net zero by 2050 it was putting down a marker for the rest of the developed world to follow. And that is exactly what has transpired, with most other major industrial nations – including the US, and even China – subsequently making their own ambitious commitments in a concerted bid to halt the relentless march of climate change and global pollution.
But targets are there to be beaten so it was particularly heartening to see a heavyweight consortium putting together a £37m project that will decarbonise South Wales – the UK’s second largest emitter of C02 – by 2040, a full decade ahead of the national target.
Led by construction giant Costain in partnership with Associated British Ports, the South Wales Industrial Clusters (SWIC) consortium includes major industrial companies (e.g., Shell, Tata Steel and Tarmac), law firms, regional agencies, utility companies and universities. The bid has been made as part of UK Government’s Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Decarbonisation Fund, with industry offering to put £18m towards the project.
From a local perspective, Dr Chris Williams, who is heading up SWIC for Industry Wales, pointed out that “Not only would it benefit the environment locally, as well as globally, but it would also mean that we are sustaining and reinvigorating the industries that South Wales has relied on for over a century.”
An allocation of grant funding from UK Research and Innovation will support the first phase of the SWIC Roadmap which will seek to identify the best options for cost-effective decarbonisation of industry. The projects will carry out urgent engineering studies to keep South Wales on target but will also look at the infrastructure required for the development of the Hydrogen economy, for large scale CO2 capture, usage and storage (CCUS) and transport. If the entire project is given the green light, it will create the UK’s first large-scale carbon dioxide shipping industry.
From where I stand, the future of a ‘clean’ South Wales’ industrial sector would be assured, the UK’s 2050 target would be underpinned by hard facts and the planet would benefit, too – in fact, we would have a ‘win, win, win scenario’. As a carbon negative company headquartered in South Wales, we are proud to play our part in supporting the decarbonisation programme.