But Teesside is also one of the UK’s leading ‘low-carbon industrial hubs’. Marine mass mortality has therefore become part of the UK’s green transition to net zero.
Teesside and Humber
Almost half of all UK industrial cluster emissions come from the Humber and Teesside, with Humber being the second most carbon-intensive location in Europe.
In 2021, he was selected, as well as six other areasas recipient of massive government funding and support become a low-carbon industrial zone. Teesside aims to be first in the world zero carbon industrial hub by 2040.
Teesside as a project connects to the Zero Carbon Humber project, encompassing Drax power station, British Steel, Keadby power stations operated by SSE, a number of chemical and manufacturing projects and hydrogen production, including Italian oil companies in disgrace Equineof the hydrogen plant. Velocys, Stallingborough’s ‘green’ kerosene plant, is also a partner project.
The whole project will be made possible by infrastructure developed under the Northern Endurance Partnership (NEP), a partnership that brings together fossil fuel companies BP, Equinor, Shell, ENI and Total, with BP as the main operator.
Teesside is a dodgy ‘zero carbon’ industrial cluster, built in a freeport where regulations including tax, labor and environmental laws barely apply, backed by government funding and support, and profiting largely to fossil fuel companies.
Hydrogen and net zero greenwashing
Teesside as a project bases its net zero ambition on two things: carbon capture and storage and green hydrogen.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) has already been strongly criticized like a false solution. Not only does this not work on a large scale, but most existing projects leak more or store far less than expected.
Despite this, he still draws millions of dollars in public funding. Teesside’s net zero scheme plans to capture up to 10 million tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, a significant part of area-related emissions and equivalent to emissions associated with annual energy consumption of up to three million British homes.
Since the CCS “works” poorly, we can assume that much less will actually be captured and safely stored.
Yet it is in this infrastructure that the fossil fuel giants backing the project are investing heavily, aiming to extend the life of their own offshore oil and gas projects, both by offsetting their emissions and then using CO2. to increase oil and gas production. (by injecting CO2 into operating wells), before finally using depleted oil and gas wells as carbon storage sites. They will continue to benefit from climate change for decades.
The second element is hydrogen, with Teesside aiming to be a major hydrogen hub in the UK with a transport network, two ‘blue’ hydrogen projects by BP and Kellas, plus a proposed green hydrogen managed by Protium.
While hydrogen finance is booming globally, the UK and EU have been the subject of intense corporate lobbying In support for hydrogen production and for massive amounts of government financial support for hydrogen development.
The UK has set aside £240 million for hydrogen-related developmentswhile the EU has invested 5.4 billion euros in a hydrogen project only.
Yet while many agree that hydrogen will play a limited but important role in the future, its green claims have been heavily criticized, as have claims of the massive role it will play in the future.
Most hydrogen is currently produced using fossil fuels – in 2021, nearly 47% of global hydrogen production came from natural gas, 27% from coal and 22% from oil. This hydrogen, called “blue hydrogen”, depends on CCS to be carbon neutral. Which is not the case.
Blue hydrogen is actually susceptible more carbon polluting than the simple combustion of natural gas, making it a form of greenwashing for fossil fuel companies. Only 4% of hydrogen was produced from electricity in 2021, and less than 1% from renewable energies. This means that less than one percent of the hydrogen is truly “green”.
Not only does most hydrogen generate carbon emissions, but it is expensive to produce, with fossil fuel companies asking billions in taxpayer funds to produce the fuel for decades to come.
Beyond that, technical difficulties and infrastructure problems means that even the The Commons Science and Technology Committee concluded that“Hydrogen is not likely to be practically and economically viable for mass use in the short to medium term to heat homes or power passenger cars.”
In fact, that would heat homes more not cheaper. The same could be said for maritime transport and most road transport. Although it has a limited role in some industrial processes, it is a bogus solution, promoted by corporate and fossil fuel lobbyists and backed by billions by the government.
Net zero toxic
Teesside is a tragic example of how warmed up neoliberalism combines with fake climate solutions to produce environmental disaster. Turning net zero in a business plan could make a lot of money and generate massive profits with government funding and support, but it won’t tackle climate change.
As more land is cleared around Teesside and other proposed net zero industrial hubs, we can expect the toxic legacy of industrialism, buried in the ground and lodged in the river and the seabed or released to surrounding areas.
Construction and manufacturing processes will produce more waste, including carbon emissions. This includes probable leaks for CCS sites and blue hydrogen production.
All told, the tragic mass death of marines in Yorkshire is only part of the environmental cost that will have to be paid as part of the UK’s drive to achieve what is known as net zero. A desire that aims to change British industry as little as possible so that business as usual can continue.
Dr Nicholas Beuret is a Lecturer in Ecological Management and Sustainability at the University of Essex. His research has been published in journals such as Antipode, science and culture And South Atlantic Quarterly. He can be found on Twitter at @_nic_beuret_.