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The Australian Coal Association's Proposed Carbon Capture and Storage Taskforce

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In April 2008 the Australian Coal Association (ACA) proposed -- in conjunction with WWF Australia, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union and the Climate Institute in Australia -- that the Rudd Labor government establish a National Carbon Capture and Storage Taskforce. The taskforce, they proposed, "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."[1]

Proposed Taskforce Terms of Reference

In its announcement, the ACA and the other groups, proposed that "key tasks that would underpin the Terms of Reference for the Taskforce would include:

1. By September 2008, facilitate the implementation of nationally consistent federal and state legal framework governing storage, including appropriate legislation, regulatory regimes, approvals and institutional arrangements to accelerate CCS in both onshore and offshore jurisdictions.

2. Undertake national mapping exercise of geological basins to identify sites with the potential to securely store large volumes of CO2 for several decades and form the basis for identifying potential “regional storage hubs”.

3. Develop a detailed infrastructure strategy and blueprint to identify potential common user pipelines and injection point infrastructure to link major “regional storage hubs.

4. Develop a pipeline investment framework.

5. Develop monitoring, evaluation, reporting and verification protocols.

6. Develop an Education campaign.

7. Prioritise and fast track the current demonstration projects, including overcoming the large costs associated with the demonstration of CCS. Consideration could be given, but not limited to:

  • Selection of flagship projects to be identified and recommended for funding from the approx. $2 billion currently available from industry and government funds.
  • Identification of priorities for other funding from other revenue streams (e.g. revenues generated from the auctioning of permits under the emissions trading system).
  • Special case liabilities and warranties for demonstration projects where Government takes joint responsibility need to be identified.

8. By September 2008, develop a policy instrument to overcome the first-mover barriers to commercial scale CCS deployment. This should be complementary to emissions trading and other national low emission technology initiatives and aim to achieve 10,000 GWh of power generation from integrated CCS technologies in 2020. Specific policy mechanisms to be explored, but not limited to, include:

  • Expanded public/private partnerships.
  • Establishing a market based Carbon Capture and Storage Target Scheme or Feed-in-Tariff.
  • Tax incentives and accelerated depreciation.
  • Regulator standards/benchmarks to avoid the lock in of high emission fossil fuel power generation"[1]

Endorsements

In the announcement, the CFMEU's National President, Tony Maher stated that "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."[1] In the media conference announcing the plan, Maher said that "what is needed is a kickarse taskforce for carbon capture ... It is going to cost tens of billions of dollars and this (coal) industry has the money to pay for it . . . and they can be named and shamed to do it."[2] The Herald Sun reported that "Maher said the US Congress decision to abandon plans for a costly CCS project, known as FutureGen, provided a first-mover advantage for Australia."[2]

The Climate Institute's John Connor claimed that the local rapid development of CCS could position Australia as "a technology maker" instead of a "technology taker". He also suggested that the development of Australia could "contribute to emissions reduction in emerging economies such as China and India."[1] Connor stated that the institute's support for CCS technology was "a response to a crisis ... It would be irresponsible not to maximise all options to reduce carbon emissions, especially with developing countries like China and India in mind, as they will continue to use our coal and will need ways of capturing carbon."[2]

WWF Australia's CEO, Greg Bourne, emphasized that the development of CCS would require public subsidies as "unfortunately market forces and emissions trading alone will be insufficient to overcome barriers to commercial scale deployment of CCS."[1]

Criticisms

The endorsement of the coal industry's plan by WWF and the Climate Institute prompted criticism of the groups from other environmental groups and the Australian Greens. A demonstration was held out the front of the the WWF office in Sydney to coincide with the announcement of the scheme.[3]

Greens senator Christine Milne told The Australian that "The Cancer Council did not push for government funding to tobacco giants to see if low-tar cigarettes caused less cancer. Neither should WWF, the Climate Institute and the CFMEU be pushing the Government to help the equally rich coal companies see if they can bring down emissions to levels which, as they know, will still be dangerously high."[4]

Articles and Resources

Sources

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Australian Coal Association, "Historic alliance calls for a national task force on carbon capture and storage", Media Release, April 16, 2008.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Olga Galacho, "Industry calls for fast carbon laws", Herald Sun, April 17, 2008.
  3. Chris Hammer, "Swipe at WWF over coal alliance", The Age, April 17, 2008.
  4. Christian Kerr, "War over call for carbon taskforce", The Australian, April 17, 2008.

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