A NORTH West MEP wants Britain to create thousands of new 'green jobs' by developing a crucial new technology.
Liberal Democrat Chris Davies said he won the backing of the European Parliament (524 votes to 141) for his proposals to kickstart the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) to reduce CO2 emissions from industry and power generation.
With CO2 'capture plants' under construction in the USA, Canada and China, MEPs say that Europe could not only fail to achieve CO2 reductions at least possible cost but also risks losing out on export orders.
Geologists claim that rock formations below the North Sea could provide permanent storage space for all of Europe's CO2 emissions over hundreds of years.
Mr Davies says that the United Kingdom is the best placed country in Europe for CCS development, and argues that it will be less expensive than providing subsidies for offshore wind and solar power.
Davies said: “After the financial markets went haywire under the last Labour government the collapse in the carbon price removed the business justification for CCS, yet in most cases it still looks to be a relatively cheap option for many countries.
He said: "We are paying billions in subsidies for renewable energy but if our aim is to reduce CO2 emissions at least cost then we must promote CCS. It can allow us to have low carbon electricity even when the wind isn't blowing or the sun isn't shining."
Although the UK Government is supporting a major engineering study into the use of the technology at Drax power station in Yorkshire the construction cranes are still not in operation, he said.
"The world is hugely dependent on the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity and CCS provides Britain with a major business opportunity. It is one we must not miss."
The International Energy Agency says that CCS should be responsible for 20% of the CO2 reductions to be achieved globally by 2050.