Qatar and Rolls-Royce – the British aerospace and defence company – are joining forces to accelerate their decarbonization goals. They will cooperate to build up a science and engineering campus in the north of the UK to scale up green startup investments in order to achieve net zero emissions.
Qatar is willing to invest billions of dollars into the green venture over the next 20 years, and Rolls-Royce is ready to provide its manufacturing expertise and testing facilities. The initiative and further details could be unveiled during this week’s COP26 climate talks in Glasgow.
The exact goal of the partnership is to build five green engineering “unicorns” or startup companies worth $1 billion or more by 2030 and up to 20 by 2040.
“The Qataris are willing and able to invest. Given the climate crisis, you have to move at speed,” said a person, familiar with the talks.
Qatar’s climate change pledge is to cut emissions at its LNG facilities by 25% by 2030. The state petroleum company, Qatar Energy, is also raising $5 to $10 billion by issuing green bonds.
The aero-engine builder Rolls-Royce aims to be carbon neutral by 2030. Both companies want to solve together the challenge of achieving those targets.
Currently, Rolls-Royce makes around $21 billion (£15.4 billion) annually from the sales of its CO2-blasting jet engines. Qatar is a top exporter of liquified natural gas and the world’s richest nation in per capita terms. It is also already a major investor in the UK, owning London’s Shard skyscraper, the Harrods department store, and a stake in supermarket chain Sainsbury’s.
If the project is approved, the two partners would launch a feasibility study to find a site in England, most likely in the northeast or northwest which would be completed by the middle of next year.
The partners will most likely explore carbon capture technologies as a solution for net zero, as Rolls-Royce already has ongoing research into direct air capture. The company would probably look into ways to accelerate it and turn it into a viable business on campus.
Relevant: What Is Carbon Capture Technology?
The initiative for accelerating green startup investments is also proof of how the largest fossil fuel producers are scaling decarbonization actions in order to undo the damage they have made to the public and environment.