Calls for a national task force on carbon capture and storage

Thursday, 17 April, 2008

In what is being touted as an historical alliance, the heads of the Australian Coal Association (ACA), Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU), The Climate Institute (CI) and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have called on the federal government to establish a national carbon capture and storage taskforce to combat climate change.

The new taskforce would be charged with developing and implementing a nationally coordinated plan to oversee rapid demonstration and commercialisation of 10,000 GWh of carbon capture and storage (CCS) electricity per year by 2020.

ACA executive director Ralph Hillman believes that the proposed CCS taskforce will play a vital role in ensuring that Australia is CO2 storage-ready before 2020.

“The black coal industry is now funding a number of demonstration projects through its billion dollar Coal21 Fund with the aim of deploying commercial-scale low-emission coal technology in the power sector by 2020.”

Greg Bourne, CEO of WWF–Australia says it must be determined a matter of urgency whether the technology works or not, and whether it will play a role in the world’s response to climate change.

“Rapid deployment of demonstration plants is necessary to determine whether CCS is practical for broad application, and if it doesn’t work we need to know even sooner.”

Sustainability is seen as the core for the long-term future of mining in Australia so it is no surprise that industry heavyweight the CFMEU is playing a key role in calling for the taskforce.

“Rapid demonstration of CCS in Australia is essential to securing employment prospects in regional Australia — jobs in coal mining and jobs in new high-tech CCS power plants.

“Mineworkers know their industry and their jobs only have a future if coal use and gas use becomes a low emission industry here and overseas. And with coal being Australia’s largest export industry, we need to lead the way in the development of that technology,” says Tony Maher, national president of the CFMEU.

Asked if this is the solution to lowering emissions in Australia, Mr Bourne says: “The problem for CCS is that the current rate of technology development [means] it could take 15 to 20 years to contribute to the climate change solution, which would be too late for the planet.

“We need to build demonstration plants now if we expect commercialisation before 2020. The only way we can ensure this will happen is through a coordinated effort by Commonwealth and state governments and by industry.”

By: Kylie Wilson-Field


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