Australia, the largest exporter of coal in the world, has unveiled plans to sweep carbon underground.
The Australian government has announced it will fund a $100m (that’s in Aussie dollars) a year carbon capture and storage (CCS) institute. It will help Australia to meet a G8 commitment to have at least 20 industrial scale CCS projects in operation by 2020.
At a press conference Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said any effective solution to tackle climate change and CO2 emissions must deal with clean coal and that CSS could be a large part of the answer.
“Climate change is a threat for the future. It is a threat also for the future of our coal industry in Australia. Therefore, we need to act on it. Not enough has been done globally on this. This proposal from Australia is our effort to close that gap.”
In an AFP report Rudd said CSS has the potential to capture nine billion tonnes of carbon by 2050, which is about 20 per cent of the reduction needed to cap atmospheric levels at 450ppm.
However, the plan has been criticised by Greenpeace who are highlighting the risk of captured gasses escaping into the environment. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation quoted Greenpeace spokesperson Simon Roz:
“If there’s any sort of escape, that massive store of carbon dioxide would be released, We know over time that there’s movement with geological formations, how are they going to ensure this stuff would remain safe over time, and most importantly, who’s going to have to pay for the potential clean up?”