The Sustainable Development Commission of Scotland (SDC) is campaigning to introduce carbon emission standards for new coal and gas fired power plants. These would effectively ban all new plants built without carbon capture and storage (CCS) capabilities. The SDC has submitted a paper to the Scottish Parliament's climate change committee warning that relying on the European Union's (EU) carbon cap-and-trade scheme to encourage energy firms to fit CCS to new plants may not be enough.

The SDC paper further says that guaranteed emission standards will be required to ensure the technology is adopted; large-scale deployments of the technology remain uncosted and untested and; as such, no new plants should be approved without binding guarantees that CCS will be deployed.

The SDC’s advice reflects the view of the Environmental Audit Committee of Member of Parliaments who had called for emission standards to be adopted.

The Conservative Party in UK, has also pledged to introduce emission standards for new plants, which will be based on those started in California by governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of 500 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) per MW/h of power.

This would effectively ban the building of new coal-fired power stations that emit between 700 kg and 850 kg of CO2 per MW/h, and new oil-fired stations that emit 590 kg per MW/h, while allowing cleaner gas-fired power stations and plants with CCS systems fitted.

The government has launched a competition for a GBP1 billion demonstration CCS plant, but has maintained that banning new coal plants could result in an energy gap. It says that the price on carbon emissions imposed through the EU’s emissions trading scheme will encourage energy firms to fit the technology without the need for additional legislation.