Australia failed to get CCS included in the funding program, the Clean Development Mechanism, at talks in Poznan, Poland, last year, and Brazil has maintained its resistance to CCS funding. The mechanism gives lucrative carbon credits to firms that invest in clean technology projects in developing countries, and those credits were seen as a valuable way to subsidise the development of CCS.
John Howard was a staunch advocate of CCS technology, and Kevin Rudd has set up a global institute to promote it, winning praise from Barack Obama and other world leaders for championing the new technology, which has not yet been commercially applied in a full-size coal plant.
But Brazil, which wants to see the CDM used for other technologies, resisted the inclusion of CCS at Poznan last year, and a small number of opponents were again able to block it within the key Copenhagen working group at the climate summit.
Britain and the US have both vowed to become world leaders in capturing coal emissions and storing them underground.
The Canberra-based Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute, set up by the Prime Minister to drive the development of CCS technology, was last night considering its position on the Copenhagen decision.
Peter Cook, chief executive of the Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies, said the decision was not unexpected and was part of a debate he believed would result in CCS being included in the funding development mechanism.
“Whatever happens with CDM, as long as we continue to use fossil fuels we’re going to need CCS if we’re going to do something about the emissions,” Dr Cook said. “We dare not leave CCS out of the equation.”
The summit is expected to put up to $US10 billion ($11bn) a year for the next three years into projects to help developing countries respond to climate change.
Additional reporting: Matthew Franklin, Sean Parnell