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Carbon capture companies must share results with poor countries

Companies which receive millions of pounds of UK taxpayers’ money to test carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology on power plants must be willing to produce results relevant to poor as well as rich countries, says a new report.

They should be required to share the results with developing countries and also to find ways of making the intellectual property that arises from the trials available to poor nations.

The Christian Aid report, Capturing India’s Carbon, says: ‘The good news is that governments in wealthy countries have considerable leverage in this area, because they will fund their countries’ demonstration projects by using taxpayers’ money.

‘It is vital that governments use this power effectively, to require the companies getting large sums of public money to act in the global interest when it comes to sharing knowledge and technology that can help to solve the climate crisis.’

Christian Aid launches the report today (12 October) as ministers from wealthy states and major developing countries meet in London at the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum – an organisation supporting the development of cost-effective CCS methods.

European Union countries are planning around 10 publicly-funded CCS demonstration projects, including up to four in the UK. There will be others in G8 member countries. The UK government has pledged to spend £1 billion on the projects.

A key justification given by the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Milliband, for using taxpayers’ money to fit coal power stations with this new and as yet unproven technology is the need to transfer the technology, if proved, to developing countries such as India and China, to help cut their increasing carbon emissions.

The new Christian Aid report challenges the UK government and energy companies on how they plan to make technology cooperation with India and other developing countries work.

The report is based in part on new research and a survey of people working in India’s energy industry, conducted by the Universities of Edinburgh and Surrey and commissioned by Christian Aid.

Capturing India’s Carbon says that rich countries such as the UK will have to start using CCS before India will consider it for its own growing number of coal power stations.

It warns that there is some doubt that India has adequate and safe underground places in which to store captured emissions. Research to investigate this further must include an assessment of the possible wider social and environmental impacts of storing carbon dioxide, especially on the poorest and most vulnerable communities.

Capturing India’s Carbon also argues that the poor countries which are least responsible for the climate crisis should make it their priority to lift people out of poverty. India, for instance, still has more than 600 million people without access to electricity.

The wealthy nations that have caused global warming should support developing countries’ low-carbon development with funding and other support for technologies ranging from cook stoves and solar power as well as CCS, if it is proven to work.

Dr Alison Doig, Christian Aid’s climate policy specialist, says: ‘We should also remember that for the many millions in rural India who lack access to electricity, coal power stations and CCS are of no use. What will help them is investment in local, renewable sources of energy such as hydro and solar power.’

For a copy of the new report, see http://www.christianaid.org.uk/images/carbon-transfer-report-oct09.pdf

To see the research report on which it is based, see www.geos.ed.ac.uk/ccsindia

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For more press information, pictures or case studies, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or  rbaird@christian-aid.org

Notes to Editors:

1) Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the life they deserve.

2) Climate change is already depriving poor people in many developing countries of their livelihoods.  Christian Aid believes that tackling climate change is a necessary condition of ending poverty.  We have a vision – an end to poverty.  Our new drive, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to make that vision a reality.  Details at www.christianaid.org.uk

3) Christian Aid is a member of the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition - the UK's largest  group of people dedicated to action on climate change.  Eleven million strong, we are the committed supporters, campaigners, hearts, minds and voices of more than 100 organisations.

4) Together with faith-based development agencies in a number of other European countries, Christian Aid has launched a new climate justice campaign called  Countdown to Copenhagen. www.christianaid.org.uk/copenhagen

5) Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire