Coal boss concedes clean coal unlikely


Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, today called on the Rudd Government to focus its Budget priorities on existing climate solutions such as energy efficiency and renewable energy as the National Generators Forum joins those wavering on coal geosequestration.

Senator Milne said "The window dressing for the coal industry is now in tatters. Comments from John Boshier on the 7.30 Report last night, that coal with geosequestration is failing to live up to the industry’s hype are yet another warning to Governments banking on "clean" coal and failing to prioritise the real, clean alternatives of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

"Mr Boshier echoed concerns that cost and timeline blowouts are deeply troubling, with little progress in years. In recent years, renewable energy technologies have been moving in leaps and bounds, increasing their efficiency, reducing costs and developing better energy storage technologies, whereas "clean" coal has stagnated."

"Mr Boshier also raised the fundamental problem that we would need to find enough ideal sites to store at least 200 million tonnes of CO2 every year in Australia alone. That is a mammoth engineering problem and could easily lead to the use of less-than-ideal storage sites, increasing the risk of leakage which would render the whole exercise pointless.

"What Mr Boshier did not note is that, even if the technology did show promise, the polluter pays principle tells us that the companies that have profited from polluting for so long should be the ones to shoulder the burden of cleaning up their act, not the taxpayer.

"The coal sector is old, polluting and well entrenched. Even if climate change were not an issue, it would be outrageous that our governments add billions every year to the coffers of the rich multinational corporations that run the sector. When you add climate change considerations to the mix, ongoing fossil fuel subsidies become one of the most perverse and destructive government decisions imaginable.

"With the Rudd Government searching for budgetary savings, surely subsidies to rich and polluting corporations should be the very first place to start, rather than further undermining scientific research by cutting the CSIRO’s budget.

"The Greens have proposed that a portion of the billions that would be saved by cutting fossil fuel subsidies should be channelled towards further research, development and commercialisation of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies through a Sun Fund, and to pay for the early stages of a systematic and systemic retrofit of Australia’s housing stock for energy efficiency set out in our EASI policy.

"I will be watching the Government’s first Budget carefully to see if its priorities follow Martin Ferguson’s industry-fuelled hype, or a sensible, realistic path to clean energy."

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