Driving Climate Action: Insights from the Markets and Mandates Workshop, by Olivia Powis, UK Director, CCSA

It’s hard to believe it’s almost 3 months since COP28 and our first Markets and Mandates roundtable in Dubai.  As governments started the new year with fresh vigour, keen to push ahead with carbon management strategies, the CCSA held a further Markets and Mandates workshop, co-organised with Carbon Balance Initiative, Oxford Net Zero and DESNZ in February.

The Markets and Mandates project aims to help bridge the gap between theory and practice in CO2 storage development, in response to a request from the CCUS Council for further policy development on carbon storage mandates. While it has a specific focus on the UK, the implications of the project are expected to have global significance as countries consider policy measures to drive progress in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Representatives from NGOs, academics, government, advisors, and the CCUS industry participated in the workshop, each bringing unique perspectives. What became evident was the diversity of opinions on markets, mandates, and CCS, sparking engaging and insightful discussions. The workshop provided an opportunity to delve into the intricacies of a CO2 storage mandate and assess potential policy scenarios’ efficacy.

Despite enthusiastic participation, not all questions could be addressed due to time constraints. However, the workshop served its purpose by raising more questions than answers, highlighting areas for further investigation and economic modelling.

One key takeaway for me was the lack of confidence among attendees in existing market measures to drive sufficient CCS deployment. Many discussed the potential inclusion of carbon removals or negative emissions in the UK Emissions Trading System (ETS) as a possible approach. However, concerns were raised regarding the timing of reforms and the system’s reliance on political will when it comes to delivering against forecast price trajectories.

Discussions extended to the potential impacts of a Carbon Takeback Obligation (CTBO) and the need to align policies across markets. Meanwhile the journey towards effective CO2 storage development is ongoing and we have to find a way to scale it up – and rapidly.

We may not have found all the answers, but I think the discussion has paved the way for further exploration and collaboration in this area. Stay tuned for the release of the final report in May and DESNZ’s progress thereafter!

If you are interested in reviewing the Markets and Mandates report, or in getting involved in the wider cost reduction work in response to the CCUS Vision, please contact the CCSA’s Research and Projects Manager, Rebecca Bell.