Wednesday, 17 September 2008
Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008; Offshore Petroleum (Annual Fees) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008; Offshore Petroleum (Registration Fees) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008; Offshore Petroleum (Safety Levies) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008
It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak in support of the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and associated legislation. The establishment of the carbon capture and geological storage, or CCS, framework is an important step towards supporting the development of low-emissions coal technologies. The carbon capture and geological storage framework allows for the containment of greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly from coal-fired power stations, before they are released into the atmosphere and allowed to contribute to climate change. Capturing and storing greenhouse gases allows Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, reflecting the nation’s commitment to combating climate change, whilst maintaining the nation’s coal export industry.
Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal, which is also our largest exported commodity. Our coal products currently provide 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation, and coal generally provides 40 per cent of the world’s electricity needs. Our nation cannot afford to cease its coal industry, for economic and strategic reasons. With global trends towards declining fossil fuel resources and increasing demand for fuel and energy, Australia needs to maintain its competitive edge in the energy market. Should Australia cease exporting coal, countries such as China and India, which rely on our coal exports, would simply source their coal imports elsewhere.
Clearly with the rate at which coal-fired power stations are being erected, our efforts to reduce Australia’s carbon footprint will be futile if we cannot also help provide solutions to reducing the impact of this expansion. China alone is building a new coal-fired power station every 10 days and over 500 in the next decade. As a signatory to the Kyoto protocol, and as a government committed to addressing climate change and reducing carbon emissions, it is our responsibility to endeavour to ensure that our use and the export of coal is supported by carbon abatement technology. CCS allows for Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions whilst maintaining its international advantage in coal exports.
I am aware there is scepticism in some quarters about the likely success in developing this technology and about its effectiveness, but we have no choice other than to make this work. The science so far shows that there is every prospect that it can work. The Geological Disposal of CO2, or GEODISC, program of the Australian Petroleum Cooperative Research Centre from 1999 to 2003 found that Australia’s geological storage capacity was likely to be sufficiently large and accessible to present a viable emission mitigation option. The program also found that we could potentially sequester up to 50 per cent of emissions from major stationary sources and up to 25 per cent of our annual net emissions. There are already three industrial scale projects underway in Norway, Canada and Algeria.
Although the technology and science of geosequestration is still very much in progress, current understanding has led to the generally accepted conclusion that geosequestration can very likely effectively store CO2 at greater than 99 per cent efficiency for over 100 years, and likely for over 1,000 years. A recent comprehensive MIT study addressing the role of coal in a future carbon constrained world found that no knowledge gaps today appear to cast doubt on the fundamental likelihood of the feasibility of CCS.
It is economically and strategically vital that Australia maintain an international advantage in the provision of energy products such as coal, whilst still maintaining its commitment to tackling climate change. As the Minister for Resources and Energy mentioned in his speech of 18 March 2008, ‘Energy: the state of the nation’, the two major themes of energy policy for the next few years are energy security and climate change. It is vital that this nation is protected from strategic or economic vulnerability arising from the global downward trend in the availability of cheaply won oil, coupled with an increasing demand for oil. The exponential rise in the global reliance on crude oil is of great concern. Oil production is in decline in 33 of the 48 largest oil-producing countries, including Russia, Iran, USA, Venezuela, India and Mexico, with all of these having reached the maximum rate of petroleum extraction.
What is of much concern is that the increasing rate of demand and consumption is far outstripping the rate of supply. World demand for oil has increased on average by 1.76 per cent per year since 1994 and is projected to increase by 37 per cent over 2006 levels by 2030. The rise in demand has predominantly been driven by developing countries, with growth in industry and higher living standards driving up energy use. China and India are rapidly becoming large oil consumers. Although China has low per capita oil consumption, it is now consuming nine per cent of global oil. In 2003 China overtook Japan as the world’s second largest consumer of oil and is increasing its demand for oil at a rate of approximately 15 per cent per year. India’s demand for foreign oil has also increased as it continues to import 75 per cent of oil needs and is expected to triple oil imports by 2020. Even low increases in domestic demand in China and India will increase global usage considerably and affect other nation’s abilities to access oil. The impact of their consumption will be felt globally, particularly through adding pressure on oil prices.
Australia’s demand for oil is over 750,000 barrels per day. This is projected to rise to over 1,200,000 barrels per day by 2030. Australia’s self-sufficiency in oil is expected to decline significantly as future discoveries are not expected to make up for the growth in demand and the decline in reserves as oil is produced. This situation makes our nation strategically and economically vulnerable. Like most nations, Australia does not have access to large domestic supplies of crude oil. It is estimated that, by 2010, Australia will be importing 60 per cent of its domestic fuel needs. With increased prices this will significantly detract from the terms of our balance of trade.
Economic power will gravitate even more heavily to nations that have not yet reached peak oil and that are continuing to produce surplus oil for export, particularly in the Middle East. Given that oil production in the Middle East is subject to a high level of cartelisation and that there have been times when this has been used to achieve political leverage and, given the degree of political instability in the Middle East, it can be readily seen how our strategic vulnerability could be heightened.
Domestically, problems are already arising as a result of higher fuel costs, which will only increase as global peak oil is reached. Domestic industries that rely on fuel will be most affected, including transport, mining, agriculture and tourism. Farmers and producers in my electorate of Eden-Monaro, as with the rest of the nation, have already been affected as production and transport costs increase. This, in turn, is passed on to consumers. With the lack of public transport in a region like Eden-Monaro and the considerable distance many people live from services, recreation, work and town centres, the social costs could also be great. Use of oil in transport also contributes somewhere between 14 and 17 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions. I believe, therefore, that we must work hard to break our reliance on oil and invest in fuel efficiency and alternative renewable sources.
In his acceptance speech to the Democratic National Convention on 28 August 2008, United States presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama announced that his goal for America was to end their dependence on oil from the Middle East in 10 years. Senator Obama committed $150 billion over the next decade to the challenge of renewable energy research and deployment. Similarly, in December 2005, the Swedish government appointed a commission to devise a program to reduce Sweden’s dependence on oil, with the intent of making Sweden fossil fuel independent by 2020.
The Rudd Labor government has not been blind to this issue and is implementing appropriate risk management measures to help mitigate the threat I have outlined. The government has committed to a mandatory renewable energy target of 20 per cent by 2020. The government has also committed $1 billion towards the research and development of renewable and low-emission energy technology. Such measures will not only reduce Australia’s reliance on depleting oil stocks but also contribute to the significant emissions reductions needed to tackle climate change. We have set aside $500 million for our green car initiative to promote the development of hybrid, fuel efficient and alternative energy vehicles. My colleague the Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism is bending every sinew towards broadening our energy resource base.
I have made it a high priority to support the government’s national effort by becoming personally involved in working with my community in Eden-Monaro to make the area a centre for leading-edge technology and creative thinking when it comes to the renewable energy industry. The people of Eden-Monaro are keenly interested in contributing to the research and implementation of renewable energy options to both combat climate change and provide for fuel alternatives.
Research and development is ongoing into potential biofuels, and I have discussed this issue with representatives of the oil industry. It has been well publicised that problems of food security can arise when food crops are used to develop biofuels, which also leads to rising food prices. Some potential biofuel options may circumvent this problem by using plants that thrive in more marginal land. Using biomass to create biofuels has been another area of discussion and research. The Swedes are moving ahead with wood cellulose research as part of their ambitious objective. Eden-Monaro has a thriving timber industry which could offer potential in this respect. I will soon be holding discussions with representatives from the industry in my electorate and scientists from ANU to consider options for using biomass from wood waste, which is currently not being utilised, for energy and fuel production.
I also recently met with representatives from Bega Cheese, the Bega Valley Shire Council, our local community organisation Clean Energy for Eternity, and the Szencorp company to discuss a proposal I am pursuing that involves the establishment of a pilot project for harvesting the region’s livestock based methane emissions for biogas energy generation. This proposal uses an anaerobic digestion process that can not only be used to generate electricity, adding in any other available waste from the council and industry, but also result in an enriched fertiliser by-product. This is very important as methane emissions are the most serious of the carbon pollution problem. We will need to have a plan to neutralise or offset them by the time the agricultural sector is included in the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme in 2015, in line with our current thinking. Such processes are already being deployed in New Zealand and are in extensive use in Germany.
I am committed to looking for fuel alternatives and renewable fuels, as I believe it is essential in combating the twin perils of the global peak oil crisis and climate change. I am delighted to be working on this agenda in my electorate with Clean Energy for Eternity, or CEFE. This is a truly community based organisation, which is striving to make our region and Australia a better place to live in by tackling climate change through all means that can be achieved at the local and individual level.
In only two years the CEFE team has achieved a great deal. CEFE’s activities include their trademark human signs, with over forty events involving thousands of Australians. The combined schools human sign saw 5,000 school children spelling out their messages of concern and hope on more than 30 school ovals across south-east New South Wales and the ACT. Collaboration with local councils and surf clubs created Australia’s largest non-commercial human sign in an event involving over 6,000 people on North Steyne Beach, Manly. Initiating the LifeSaving Energy micro-generation project, they began with Tathra’s Surf Life Saving Club, installing solar panels and a wind turbine. This has now evolved into a national campaign with Surf Life Saving Australia and Coastcare committed to a two-year project to install renewable energy systems on all 305 surf clubs in Australia.
Enthusiastic local support was generated by CEFE for the LifeSaving Energy Big Swim series, which have raised over $70,000 to get renewable micro-generation systems up and running on seven local south-east New South Wales surf clubs by Christmas this year. LifeSaving Energy has spread to church groups and emergency services. Merimbula fire station installed a grid connected solar system in February 2008, saving almost five tonnes of CO2 emissions and generating $500 of income a year. CEFE resolved to bring a one to two megawatt community owned solar farm into the Bega Valley, and I was delighted to obtain $100,000 for a feasibility study for this project from our Green Precincts program, with a further $1 million to contribute to the construction of the farm if the feasibility study demonstrates its viability.
On 21 August 2006, CEFE was established when 400 people voted to set up a Clean Energy for Eternity working group and unanimously endorsed a motion setting local and individual targets for a 50 per cent reduction in our local carbon footprint and a 50 per cent transition to renewable energy by 2020. I have set the 50-50 by 2020 goal as an aspirational target for the electorate of Eden-Monaro. It should be understood that whatever national targets we settle on, that does not preclude local councils, businesses, community groups and individuals from achieving beyond this and in fact we would encourage initiatives at all levels in this respect. Since CEFE was established, the 50-50 by 2020 goal has been adopted by the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River shires. I am now calling on all successful new councillors assuming their positions as a result of the council elections in Eden-Monaro on 13 September to commit to working with CEFE and adopting the 50-50 by 2020 goal.
CEFE had its second birthday on 21 August and is continuing to come up with innovative climate change solutions tailored to the different towns and communities in our region. Some of these include collaboration with the Transition Town movement to build resilience and prepare communities for the dual challenges of climate change and peak oil; energy clinics to assist householders to identify how to make their homes cheaper to run through energy efficiency measures; and community gardens and bioregional trade to assist communities to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in order to have access to affordable and locally produced fresh food.
The founder of CEFE, Dr Matthew Nott, and the team have recently received their second runner-up award in the 2008 IAG Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change. This is a tremendous achievement for which we are all proud, and I am sure that they will be able to go one better in 2009. Other awards that have already come the way of Dr Nott and CEFE include the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales award 2007 for most inspiring climate change group in NSW; the Green Globe Award 2007 for CEFE and Winner of the Energy Champion specifically for Matthew Nott; Australian Conservation Foundation Highly Commended 2008; and Dr Matthew Nott himself was awarded the Bega Valley dual citizen of the year for 2008.
I want to commend the great work that Dr Matthew Nott, Philippa Rowland, Derek Povel and many others who have put in to continuing the vital work of CEFE in Eden-Monaro and beyond. I would also like to acknowledge the Mayor of Bega Valley Shire, Mr Tony Allen, who chaired the first meeting of CEFE in August 2006 and who has been at the forefront of the effort against climate change on the Bega Valley Shire Council. I would encourage people to visit the CEFE website at www.cleanenergyforternity.net.au and find out more information about how to get involved. I am pleased to say that I will be holding a climate change forum in Bega RSL on 5 November in conjunction with CEFE to harness the awareness and creativity of my community to comment on our Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme green paper. This will be preceded by one of the CEFE clean energy expos that have done so much to assist individuals to take effective domestic measures.
The message from my community on climate change in the last election was loud and clear. In the Army we have a saying that goes, ‘Lead, follow or get out of the way’. My community saw a previous government that would not lead or follow and finally they told them to get out of the way. Now I am proud that in the Rudd Labor government they finally have determined and visionary national leadership, and a committed local partner as their member.
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme that is now in development will also be a vital element in the government’s plan to reduce emissions without compromising the economy and with the lowest possible cost for families and businesses. It provides the market with a choice in how it chooses to meet emission targets. Allied to this massive project and policy undertaking, the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill and associated legislation will support a key element of the government’s plan to reduce emissions. The carbon capture and geological storage framework allows a power generator or gas producer to offset potential charges associated with carbon emissions. This framework allows businesses to reduce their carbon footprint whilst not compromising our coal industry, which is vital to Australia’s economic prosperity. This bill will support the Australian energy industry, which needs to remain strong in order to protect Australia from economic and strategic vulnerabilities associated with the global peak oil crisis, whilst ensuring that Australia remains committed to tackling climate change. I commend the bills to the House.
I thank the member for Eden-Monaro for his contribution to the debate on this most serious of topics that we have before the House, climate change. I would like to quote a paragraph from the poem The Cycads by Judith Wright, which I think provides a context for this. It is about how what humans do can have significant consequences for the earth:
Take their cold seed and set it in the mind,
and its slow root will lengthen deep and deep
till, following, you cling on the last ledge
over the unthinkable, unfathomable edge
beyond which man remembers only sleep.
I will springboard from that into the legislation before the House, because the poem talks about the things which endure and this bill before the House is to ensure that we as humans today in 2008 do all that we can to make sure that as many species as possible do not suffer from climate change.
I am proud to rise in support of the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and the related bills before the House. This bill demonstrates the breadth of the Rudd government’s response to climate change, which, as I am sure the House knows, started only 11 minutes after the Rudd government was sworn in, when we ratified the Kyoto protocol—something which had been ignored for way too long.
The Rudd government has already committed $2.3 billion to tackle climate change. This includes: $500 million for the Renewable Energy Fund; $500 million for the National Clean Coal Fund; $500 million for the Green Car Innovation Fund; $150 million for solar and clean energy research; and $240 million to establish Clean Business Australia, to tackle climate change through projects with a focus on productivity and innovation. ‘Productivity’ is a word that might not be that familiar on the other side of the House. Productivity is a very important part of the economy. When you total up all of those commitments, that is $2.3 billion, and counting. This is a major investment in research and development on low-emissions technologies and recognition that renewable energy will have a key role in Australia’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
But we also need to turn to the low-hanging fruit. The Rudd government is also helping households and businesses to use energy more wisely. Through direct financial incentives, strengthened energy efficiency regulations and targeted information, households will be helped to use less energy while saving money. The key measures include: $10,000 low-interest loans for Australian households to implement energy and water savings; rebates for energy efficient insulation for 300,000 rental homes, so we are covering everyone—homeowners and renters; $8,000 rebates for rooftop solar power panels; $1,000 rebates for solar hot water systems; $500 rebates for rainwater tanks and greywater recycling; improved cost-saving energy and water efficiency standards for new homes and appliances; and making every school a solar school within eight years. These measures will help all Australians play a part in the fight against climate change. Even the climate change sceptics opposite can play a part in addressing climate change. I guess it is like what they say about paranoia, that just because you are paranoid does not mean that everyone is not out to get you—just because you are a climate change sceptic does not mean that you cannot do your bit to help the environment.
The Rudd government is also setting up the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which will be the central mechanism to meet carbon emissions reduction targets. As well as exploring ways to reduce carbon emissions, we are working with industry to remediate existing emissions through carbon capture and storage. Geosequestration, or permanently storing captured CO2 under the seabed, is a solution that complements the existing offshore petroleum industry. It will enable carbon dioxide, and eventually other greenhouse gases, to be stored safely and securely in geological storage deep under the sea in Commonwealth waters.
The Rudd government is committed to providing a viable option for carbon capture and storage because, being a Queenslander, the Prime Minister understands how important the coal industry is to Australia. Anyone from Queensland would know that we have significant coal deposits, and high-quality coal deposits as well, unlike some of the Victorian stuff—with all due respect to the member opposite. In the world left to the Rudd government by John Howard and Peter Costello, coal provides around 80 per cent of electricity and it is our largest export commodity, generating around $24 billion in export revenue. That is why low-emissions coal technologies are so important. Carbon capture and storage will guarantee the long-term sustainable future of the coal power industry.
The Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill sets up a framework for the safe and secure injection and storage of greenhouse gases far underneath Commonwealth waters. The bill establishes a new range of offshore titles to pipe, inject and store CO2 under the seabed. This will create an environment in which industry can invest in carbon capture and storage projects with confidence and it will be able to do so now, as soon as this legislation is through. It will also encourage the commercialisation of technologies which have the potential to play a vital role in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions in the future. These are opportunities that have been squandered over the years, because these will be the new technologies of the future. Like computers 30 years ago, these are the opportunities to lead the world. Unfortunately, we are starting a little bit behind the line because of some missed opportunities.
As a member of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources, I was pleased to be a part of the inquiry into this legislation. The Down under: greenhouse gas storage report came from that committee, a committee made up of Labor, Liberal, National and Independent members of the House. It was great as a new member of the House to see someone who has blue carpet in their room having the confidence to put all their faith into people who have green carpet in their rooms. Note there were only people with green carpet in the room—no-one with red carpet. It was great to be able to work together with the Labor, Liberal, National and Independent members to deal with this legislation. There should be a lot more of it. This inquiry strongly supported this carbon capture and storage framework. I am confident that it will enable this new industry to succeed and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
This bill effectively balances the rights and interactions between greenhouse gas storage and pre-existing petroleum titleholders. It provides certainty for greenhouse gas storage proponents to invest, it preserves the rights of the petroleum industry to their existing titles and it provides assurance to the community that CO2 storage is safe and secure. Don’t get me wrong: offshore petroleum is big business. We understand that. The value of oil and gas produced in Australia in 2007-08 was more than $27 billion, with exports valued at around $16 billion. I am sure every Australian with a car or who does not grow their own vegetables knows how important fuel is. So it is important that this bill protects offshore petroleum titleholders. In fact, offshore petroleum operators are well placed to get involved in geosequestration in terms of technology and their industry know-how.
I am pleased that the minister has accepted 17 of the committee’s 19 recommendations regarding this bill. This whole process was a credit to the chair, Dick Adams, the member for Lyons, and the deputy chair, Alby Schultz, the member for Hume. It also illustrates the faith and foresight of Minister Ferguson. The committee’s recommendations were about providing greater investment certainty, clarity regarding access and property rights and managing interactions between greenhouse gas storage and petroleum titleholders. This is obviously a very delicate balancing act. Australia is one of the first countries in the world to establish a framework to support geosequestration. I remain confident that this bill will serve as an example to the rest of the world on how we can reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. I commend the bill to the House.
The Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and related bills address one of the key aspects of the great challenge facing our generation: how to deal with human induced climate change. Labor is dealing with climate change with a suite of policies. One of our major policy initiatives is this bill, which is integral to Labor’s ongoing commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Before I get into the detail of the bill and what the issue of carbon capture is all about, I want to make clear that Labor sees the growth and fostering of renewable energies as central to our future. Renewable energy is our long-term future. We must be about moving our energy generation sector to long-term sustainability with the least environmental footprint. But we also have to be realistic about where we are today in our reliance on coal for our energy and in its contribution to our overall economy. Let us be clear that, even with a big effort to convert to alternative and renewable sources of energy, fossil fuels will be the main source of energy for Australia for some time to come.
Coal’s share of future power generation in Australia will decline in favour of renewable energy. But coal will continue to provide much of Australia’s electricity generation requirements in the short to medium term. Today, one of only a few technologies available to make deep cuts in the greenhouse gas emissions coming from existing coal power generators is carbon capture and storage. This is new technology, so it is important to explain what we are on about. Through geosequestration, carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere is compressed into a liquid and injected into deep geological formations for permanent storage. That is what this legislation is about. The government’s legislation establishes access and property rights for the safe and secure injection and storage of greenhouse gases into stable subsurface geological reservoirs.
The legislation provides project developers with the certainty required to commit to major low-emission energy projects involving carbon capture. It also allows for the establishment of an effective regulatory framework to ensure that projects meet health, safety and environmental requirements. The bill will also put in place a new range of offshore titles providing for the transportation by pipeline and injection and storage into suitable geological formations.
Both local and international interest has been growing on the issue of carbon capture and storage. International interest in carbon capture and storage has increased substantially in the past few years. I am very excited about what this industry offers my own region. I believe our region is already a world leader in carbon capture and storage. We have now stored 10,000 tonnes of CO2 in an underground depleted natural gas field just off Port Campbell, just out of my electorate. This is the biggest experiment of its kind anywhere in the world, and an important step in the development of this industry locally.
So Australia leads the way in carbon capture and storage and we need to legislate to put in place a legal framework for this technology. A lot of work is happening in this area both here and overseas but it is important to acknowledge the fact that this is still very new science. There is still a lot of scepticism in the community. However, it is important we proceed to try to test the carbon capture and storage technology and for that we need a legislative framework. The Australian energy facts of life are very clear. Australia runs predominately on electricity generated by coal. Coal currently provides almost 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation capacity. Coal in fact provides around 40 per cent of world electricity needs. Globally our responsibilities are greater, as Australia is a net energy exporter. Emerging world economies such as China and India run on Australian coal. In 2004 Australia ranked second out of the OECD countries in energy exports. Carbon dioxide, primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy, is the most common greenhouse gas emitted by human activities. It is the process causing the most adverse impacts on our climate. Australia’s carbon footprint is global. And decreasing greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere is the key environmental issue facing Australia and the world. These pressures are forcing interest in a wide range of technologies, not the least of which is carbon capture and storage. Projects and experiments with carbon capture and storage are increasing at a rapid rate around the world.
The International Energy Agency, which monitors and forecasts global energy supply and demand, estimates that the world’s immediate future energy needs will be met primarily by fossil fuels. It forecasts coal will provide around 44 per cent of the world’s electricity needs in 2030—an increase on its current share. This may or may not be the case; it depends on how climate change impacts bite and the imperatives on government. It is therefore vitally important that we now develop domestic and international greenhouse gas abatement solutions. Today, these solutions include policies that support the development and deployment of low-emission coal technologies.
In my own experience as a geology student, carbon capture and storage provides solutions as well as problems. To discount the public scepticism about carbon capture and storage would be foolish. Many people will argue that, whilst we can inject CO2 into one hole, it might escape from another. These difficulties are addressed within the legislation, recognising the need to provide assurance to the community that CO2 will be stored in a safe and secure manner.
The coal industry is very significant to Australia’s economic prosperity. Our big long-term challenge is, no doubt, to find alternative fuels, but we also have to address the immediate realities of coal and find abatement methods. Carbon capture and storage is one of the most promising technologies to provide immediate relief from CO2 pollution by the coal industry. There is great potential to now undertake significant steps to effectively reduce carbon pollution through carbon capture and storage. This legislation provides an important legal framework that could underwrite Australia’s concerted efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. This is not a silver bullet that will solve the carbon pollution problem, but it may be an important step in helping with carbon pollution abatement for the period ahead, in which we will rely upon coal whilst we move to more sustainable energy generation processes. This legislation is integral in making sure the framework exists to develop and implement this important carbon capture and storage process.
The risk of doing nothing—which perhaps the other side supports—is that it will threaten our economy very substantially. In my electorate, areas such as the Great Ocean Road, the Surf Coast and parts of the Bellarine Peninsula will be adversely threatened by rising sea levels. It is important that we contribute to reducing carbon emissions. This legislation provides a very important solution which I believe will generate additional jobs in my area. I commend the bill to the House.
I rise to speak on the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and related bills. Like my colleague the member for Corangamite, I hope the other side of the House will give its full support to this very important bill. I commend the Minister for Resources and Energy for the work he has done in getting the bill to the House. I thank the former Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, the member for Groom, who has supported this bill in the debate today. I think he was also endeavouring to make something like this happen in the previous government, but he probably did not have the support he needed.
The world is certainly interested in this process and the bill that is before the parliament today. We know that coal is the world’s most dominant energy product. So, if we can produce clean coal, we can do a lot to get the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere. Eighty per cent of Australia’s electricity needs and about 40 per cent of the world’s electricity needs are generated from burning coal. The International Energy Agency forecasts that global energy supply and demand will increase and that, by 2030, 44 per cent of the world’s energy will be generated from burning coal. To do something about this we need to deploy low-emission coal technology—and this bill gives us a legal framework to endeavour to do that. Clean coal technology is certainly coming together, and many people are very confident that we can achieve what is being aimed for. The capture of CO2 in the flumes of coal-fired power stations is being done in a good way. They believe they can find even better answers than they already have done and move to a full operation within some years.
India and China, with their great size and their expansion and their industrialisation, are using more and more coal—hence the figures I quoted earlier. I am sure that, with new technology, we will be able to help the world to capture CO2 and re-inject into the very formations from which we presently take the gas and oil that the world uses today. There is a great need for this bill. I think that need has been well established as a result of the work that has been done. Australia has coal reserves that will last another 400 years, or even more, at the present rate of usage, so we can see the need for such a bill and for the new technology that will enable us to continue to take advantage of this energy source.
Safe injection and storage of CO2 is, of course, what is important, and there is no doubt that the public must have confidence in the process. Of course, the process should be transparent so that people can have that confidence in it. I am confident that this bill and these processes will give us that. As Chair of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources, I brought down the report Down under: greenhouse gas storage, a review of the draft Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill. It was an opportunity to see the great need for us to do that and also an opportunity to make recommendations that allowed us to do that. I was very pleased to say that, in—
Thank you to my colleagues for acknowledging the work of the committee. In that work, we received some evidence from Dr Cook, who is head of the CO2CRC project down in the Otway Basin. He gave us evidence that they have gone out and talked to the communities down in that area, and I understand that the shire down there in western Victoria voted on the project and gave it unanimous support to go ahead. I think that level of community support shows that people are thinking about these processes and the needs that we have in dealing with climate change. I know that the bill takes this into account and that the minister has given consideration to the work that was done by the committee. I also know that the process to allow community involvement and transparency has been considered and is there and that all the data that is pulled together can be made available to communities by the regulator that is monitoring these operations.
Getting new industries up is never easy, and I guess that will be the challenge in this area. There is no doubt that the petroleum industry has the skills and the technology to store CO2, which it has done for many years in Australia and in other parts of the world. The Norwegians have had a process going for about 10 years; their operation in the Sleipner gas field in the North Sea has been very successful in capturing CO2 from a gas operation and reinjecting it back into the area where the gas came from. In looking at whether it is safe to put CO2 deep into the earth under seabeds, we should recall that CO2 at the present moment belongs to humanity; it is out there and everything that is generated in the world is being pushed out into the atmosphere. When we think that gas and oil have been held in those areas for millions of years, we know that this technology and this application of geology et cetera works. We have had enough experience. I know that, in other parts of the petroleum industry, CO2 is used to add pressure to very flat oilwells to help bring the oil up. This occurs in some wells in the US, Canada and other parts of the world. So this is something we have been doing for a long time. The petroleum industry certainly has the skills, the technology and the safety regimes to be able to play a big part in this area. I think there are great opportunities for that industry to be involved.
The bill deals with other areas as well, such as petroleum operators who are in an area where there may be no new CO2 from sources other than those wells. I know that this is dealt with in the bill. There are different areas—up in the North West Shelf and around that area—where it does not look likely that we will find coal, so we will not have a stream of CO2 coming from power stations to inject back into any basins there. But, down in the important state of Victoria, CO2 used in power generation for the Latrobe Valley will be stored in the Gippsland Basin in the Bass Strait area. That is an important area to achieve results, and it is important to pull together these industries to make sure that we are achieving what is in the public interest. The report brought down by the committee that I chaired made strong recommendations that the minister should endeavour to bring parties together to do that, and the bill should have some mechanism to that effect. The minister has picked up some of those recommendations but not quite all. There are also some mechanisms in other parts of Australia which are encouraging people to come together. We certainly hope that the commercial imperatives will assist the two different industries, being the companies with a stream of CO2 that they need to inject into a storage area and the present petroleum operators who are extracting oil and gas from their present leases under the legal situation at the present time. So the need to negotiate in good faith is a very important one, and we certainly hope that can be achieved.
Turning to other issues with the bill, it has a difference in respect of one of the key committee recommendations. The House committee recommended that government take over liability as to the CO2 after the closure of a well was concluded. That could be many years after the operation has started. The information gained from the evidence received by the committee was that the main risk in such operations would arise at the beginning of the operations, when you start injecting, and extend through the time of the first year or two, when you monitor the bloom of CO2 as it settles down into cavities. Lots of technology and monitoring processes enable you to make sure you know where the gas is. The evidence received by the committee was that the risk dissipates as the process goes on and that things will settle quite well. The committee believed that in 50 years time the company that injected the gas probably would not exist as an entity. I think that was the legal advice given to the committee. Of course, lawyers always want somebody to own something so that there is a liability.
The government has chosen to put in its bill another direction, which is that common law application will stay with the company that has injected the gas. I understand why that is so and accept that position. The only difficulty is whether that will create a hold-up to companies becoming involved in this important new industry. So common law will be the process under this proposed act and will drive what becomes the legal position after the closure of a well.
I think the bill deals with the issues that it needs to deal with. As I said, there is the enormous importance of the storage of CO2 to meet the obligations that the country is undertaking with emissions trading; otherwise the cost to us will be well above what we can afford. We need to keep coal as an energy source. We need to make sure that we look after the thousands of jobs that exist in that industry. As other industries gain technologies, maybe renewables will one day meet bulk load needs, but at this stage there is certainly no evidence of and no opportunities for those renewables to meet those. All of them—from wind to solar to wave power, which is starting to emerge—certainly play a role but they are still small players when you consider the overall energy figures for the world and Australia. I know that in my own state of Tasmania, which has hydropower, the energy that we now receive from wind makes it is an important source and player. It fits in with our hydroenergy in a very good way. When the wind stops, the water starts, so we have a very good link. I look forward to the government’s continuing action in increasing its renewable energy targets, which will assist us to get more wind farms in place.
So this bill, part of the carbon capture and storage package of legislation, is an important piece of legislation. I congratulate the minister, for the work that he has done, and all the people who have been involved, including those in industry and the CRC, in that work. The science that is going on to meet the challenges is important. This is a big thing for our country, and the public interest is of great importance, so I commend this bill to the House. I certainly hope that it will pass through the Senate without too many difficulties.
I too rise to speak in support of the Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and associated bills. Before I proceed with my main remarks, I add my congratulations and commendations to the member for Lyons and the committee that worked with him in going through this bill and reporting back to parliament. I will speak later on about some of the recommendations, but I believe their work has contributed to what is a very fair and balanced bill.
This bill, as the Minister for Resources and Energy and others have said, will establish the world’s first framework for carbon capture and geological storage and establish a new range of offshore titles providing for transportation by pipeline and injection and storage in geological formations of carbon dioxide and potentially other greenhouse gases. Australia has the capacity to inject and store a substantial amount of its carbon emissions in offshore reservoirs. Geological surveys reveal that storage formations in offshore waters, accessible by this framework, have the potential to securely store hundreds of millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide for many thousands of years. The types of geological formations which have stored oil, gas and carbon dioxide for millions of years are similar to the storage formations proposed for greenhouse gas storage.
Carbon capture and geological storage are vital for the long-term sustainability of coal-fired electricity generation and to realise the potential of new industries such as coal to liquids, which could improve Australia’s liquid transport fuel security. Nearly 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity is generated from coal, and so no serious response to climate change can ignore the need to clean up our coal. The establishment of a carbon capture and geological storage framework represents a major step towards making low-emissions coal a reality. As other speakers have said, the coal industry is highly significant not only to Australia’s prosperity but also to the world’s current and forecast energy supply. Coal provides almost 80 per cent of Australia’s electricity generation capacity and 40 per cent of world electricity needs. While coal’s share of future power generation in Australia will decline in favour of renewable energy and less greenhouse intensive fossil fuels such as gas, coal will continue to provide much of Australia’s electricity generation requirements well into the future.
Carbon capture and geological storage offer potential for Australia to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions while maintaining its international competitiveness through its competitive advantage of low-cost and abundant fossil fuels such as coal and gas. It is one of the suite of technologies Australia is considering to meet its future greenhouse objectives. The International Energy Agency, which monitors and forecasts global energy supply and demand, supports this view, estimating that the world’s future energy needs will be met largely by fossil fuels and forecasting that coal will provide nearly 44 per cent of world electricity requirements in the year 2030. That is an increase on its current share. Therefore, it is critical that domestic and international greenhouse gas abatement solutions include policies that support the development and deployment of low-emission coal technologies.
Australia is the world’s largest coal exporter, and coal remains Australia’s largest export commodity, generating $24 billion of income in the year 2005-06. The coal industry supports many rural and regional communities, employing about 30,000 people. Low-cost coal supports Australia’s high living standards and remains the foundation for Australia’s energy-intensive industries. The success of carbon capture and geological storage technology will guarantee the long-term future of the coal power industry and the job security for power industry workers. I heard a number of other speakers in this debate make reference to the importance of the coal industry in their local communities and I certainly endorse the remarks that they have made and recognise, as I have already said, that the coal industry is important to the economy of Australia. But in specific locations in Australia it is incredibly important and probably sustains many communities where the communities have essentially evolved from their coal industry.
The government recognises that new clean energy technologies including both fossil fuels and renewable energy sources are the key to a sustainable climate change solution. As Professor Garnaut and the government have noted, it is in Australia’s national interest to ensure atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations are stabilised at the lowest possible level. Even a two per cent increase in global temperature above preindustrial levels is risky and would severely impact Australia, its neighbours and key trading partners in the region. Based on the latest science from the CSIRO and scientific experts commissioned by the Garnaut climate change review, if current emission trends continue, unmitigated climate change is likely to have catastrophic global impacts. Under this scenario, current estimates suggest that the world’s coral reefs would be lost and irreversible melting of the world’s great icesheets would lock in several metres of sea level rise. There is also a very high risk that many forests, grasslands and other natural sinks—or carbon stores, as they are sometimes referred to—will through stress, fire and desertification become huge new sources of emissions. In Australia, irrigated agriculture production in the Murray-Darling Basin would all but disappear, 2,700 additional temperature related deaths are projected annually and the Great Barrier Reef would suffer catastrophic impacts.
Stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations at acceptable levels of somewhere around 450 parts per million needs a global response. Industrialised countries as a group need to reduce emissions by 25 to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by the year 2020. A 440 parts per million emissions target would substantially reduce the risk of large-scale global and Australian impacts. If we were to choose to stabilise greenhouse gases at high concentrations of around 550 parts per million we would leave future generations a legacy of high climate risks. Greenhouse gas concentrations at this level would mean about an 80 per cent chance of exceeding the two degrees centigrade increase in global temperatures. The world’s coral reefs would be unable to carry out important functions such as maintaining biodiversity and protecting coastlines, and there would be up to a 40 per cent chance of initiating irreversible melting of the Greenland icesheet. There would also be a 50 to 95 per cent chance of exceeding the estimated lower threshold above which land based carbon sinks could become carbon sources and push climate change out of control. For example, this could mean the temperatures rising to a point high enough to cause the collapse of Amazon rainforest, traditionally a carbon sink, which would then unleash billions of tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, speeding up global warming.
Only yesterday I was presented with a briefing in respect of the impact on natural vegetation and natural forests of absorbing carbon dioxide from the air. It appears from the latest reports that the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by these natural forests, like those in the Amazon, is far greater than we ever allowed for. Therefore, the damage that we are doing and might do to forests in the future will exacerbate what is already a serious situation.
One only has to look at the impact of climate change on Australia in recent years. Australia’s high vulnerability to climate change among developed countries is largely due to the dryness of the continent, the proximity of major population centres to the coast and our unique and highly adapted natural ecosystems. Australia’s climate has been changing over the last century. For example, overall temperatures have increased and recent droughts have been hotter than average and the southern and eastern regions of the country have seen declines in rainfall. The 2002-03 droughts wiped out an entire percentage point of Australia’s gross domestic product, worth the equivalent of US$7.6 billion, as well as reducing agricultural employment, mainly in rural and regional areas, by about 100,000 people. The impact of the drought was also felt outside rural Australia. Food prices increased, on average, by 4.4 per cent over 2002-03, compared with a general increase in the CPI of 2.7 per cent.
The centrepiece of the government’s climate change policy is its commitment to establishing a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme by 2010. Other speakers have also made reference to this scheme. The scheme will establish a forward price for carbon within the Australian economy. Placing a cost on carbon will encourage industry to develop and deploy low-emission technologies over time.
In addition, the government has established a $500 million National Low Emissions Coal Fund to support the National Low Emissions Coal Initiative and deliver breakthroughs in clean coal technologies, of which carbon capture and geological storage is a key part. The National Low Emissions Coal Initiative is being matched by the coal industry’s COAL21 initiative. The industry has set up a $1 billion fund to support clean coal projects to combat climate change and reduce our emissions.
This bill will enable Australia to get on with the development of clean coal by enabling the carbon dioxide extracted from coal to be safely stored in Australia in suitable offshore locations. This is a complex bill which will affect billions of dollars of investments in Australia, our environment and future investments. Quite rightly, it has been the subject of intense scrutiny by state governments, by private enterprise, by non-government organisations and even a committee of this parliament, the committee I referred to earlier and which the member for Lyons chaired. In framing the bill, the Minister for Resources and Energy has listened to the diverse views and has proposed what I believe is a fair and balanced federal government response to a matter that requires immediate attention.
It is interesting to note that in Canada, Poland, Norway and Algeria carbon dioxide injection projects are already underway for a range of applications. It is also worth noting that the South Australian, Victorian and Queensland governments have their own legislation either in place or underway with respect to carbon capture and storage in onshore locations or areas under state care and control. In addition, a number of sites have been identified in Victoria, Western Australia and southern and Central Queensland which are high-carbon emission areas which have adequate storage capacity onshore.
Returning to the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Resources on this matter, which was tabled on 1 September, the government has—as other speakers have rightly pointed out—adopted 17 of the 19 recommendations. The recommendation relating to the government taking over responsibility for long-term liability was rejected by the government, and I believe rightfully so. That was probably the most contentious recommendation that was not accepted by the government. It is my view, and obviously the minister supported this view because the recommendation was not accepted, that the government should not accept long-term responsibility for long-term liability where carbon gas is injected underground. It is the responsibility of the proponents and those who own the site.
If, however, because of regulation and laws under which the process is carried out there is some level of government responsibility then obviously common law will apply and the government will be held accountable under whatever common law provisions exist at the time. So government responsibility is there in respect to common law, but the government should not specifically take on responsibility for what are essentially private operations. It is no different from the government taking responsibility for other private landfill operations that we see throughout Australia onshore. It is in fact a waste disposal facility. The fact that it happens to be offshore and underground in no way changes its obligations from the obligations for landfills above ground and onshore.
I also note that the bill does not allow mining and drilling in the Great Barrier Reef for geosequestration purposes. Again, I commend the government for making that decision. As someone who has visited the reef and spoken about it in respect of another bill I am certainly very concerned about its future. I have already pointed out that if we do nothing and allow temperatures to increase, the loss of the Great Barrier Reef is likely to occur. We should in no way put the Great Barrier Reef at any further risk by allowing any types of activities which do that. The Great Barrier Reef is a world iconic area and is already under threat because of climate change. It should not be placed under any additional risks whatsoever associated with geosequestration activities.
It is also appropriate that at this stage only carbon dioxide can be stored in the sites approved, and other greenhouse gases will only be permitted to be stored in approved sites if the protocol to the London dumping convention is amended. It may be an option further down the track but, at this stage, the only gases that we are talking about are carbon dioxide or other carbon gases which can be stored under this process. This bill is very much linked to the government’s proposed Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, as other speakers have rightly pointed out.
As I said earlier in my remarks, there is an overwhelming body of scientific opinion that greenhouse gas emissions are contributing to the climate change that is occurring. It is my view that climate change, whether human initiated or not, is the greatest challenge facing our world. We have already seen many consequences of climate change. There is also a widespread view amongst the scientific community that reducing the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will slow down the global warming that has been occurring and reduce sufficiently, and perhaps even reverse, the dangerous trends that we are seeing.
The government’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, as the name implies, has the specific objective of reducing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Extracting carbon from coal and safely storing it underground complements all other measures that may be implemented as part of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme. The critics of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme who are running a fear campaign about the increases in costs of living that might arise fail to acknowledge the cost to consumers of doing nothing. We have no better example to look to than the Murray-Darling system. Opposition members, when in government, did absolutely nothing about the Murray, even though there had been warnings for years that the health of the Murray was seriously declining. Those warnings have continued year in and year out for at least the last 20 to 30 years. We did nothing about it and today we are paying dearly for it. It is absolutely hypocritical of members opposite to come into this place now and demand that the Rudd government do something about the Murray and do it immediately when, for 12 years, they did absolutely nothing. It was because of their negligence that the Murray-Darling system is now in the state that it is.
This is a responsible bill which, in addition to responding to the serious issue of climate change, also presents Australia with research opportunities, intellectual capital and investment opportunities. It is not simply about adding costs to our economy and it is not simply about responding to the requirements of the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme; it is all about driving innovation in other areas that we need to pursue in the years to come. As a result of that, I see not only the opportunity to attract investment into this country but also an additional range of employment opportunities for Australians. It creates for Australia an entirely new industry with the economic benefits that come with it. For all of those reasons, and for the reasons that I have outlined in my address on this bill, I commend the bill to the House. I also congratulate the Minister for Resources and Energy for putting together what I believe is a very fair, balanced and responsible response to carbon capture and storage in this country. (Time expired)
I rise to support theOffshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008, which establishes the carbon capture and storage framework, the Offshore Petroleum (Annual Fees) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008, the Offshore Petroleum (Registration Fees) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 and the Offshore Petroleum (Safety Levies) Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008. All of these bills create a legal and regulatory industry framework to operate an environment whereby carbon and other greenhouse gases may be captured and stored below the surface of the ground under the sea in Commonwealth waters. It sets up a process for creating titles for pipelines and the storage and geosequestration of greenhouse gases—gases that might be removed from source or removed from the flue of an industrial facility.
Let me explain what that means. Australia is endowed with massive natural resources. One of the most significant natural resources which Australia has is gas. It is mainly found off the north coast of Western Australia and off the south-east corner of Australia. These reserves often contain large components of carbon dioxide, sometimes as low as four per cent, as in the case of the North West Shelf, and sometimes as high as 32 per cent. So there is carbon dioxide that is in situ below the surface of the earth that is brought out with oil and gas as it is brought to shore for processing. The Offshore Petroleum Amendment (Greenhouse Gas Storage) Bill 2008 presumes the capacity to take carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, recirculate them back out to sea and then pump them under pressure back down under the surface of the earth where they can be safely stored in massive volumes for geological time. It is a creative solution, it is an engineering solution and it is a solution to a pollution problem which is about adapting our economy and our manufacturing and industrial processes to the realities of our modern environment. There is a current debate—it has been taking place for 20 years—about climate change and its origins. Almost 20 years ago I was stupid enough to describe climate change as ‘pop science’. I was wrong. Climate change is real. It is also the case that our national response to climate change is at a number of levels. The level that this bill and its three associated bills addresses is how a modern, wealthy economy can continue to produce wealth while at the same time ensuring that emissions to the air, soil and water are kept as low as possible. Industry supports this sort of stuff. It supports it because it is good practice. It supports it because it is a good engineering solution. It supports it because increasingly the communities that live near and who are employed in the hydrocarbons industry require the cleanest possible standards of that industry.
It was in about 2002 that the massive Gorgon Project in Western Australia presented a field development plan which included geosequestration. This was the first time ever in Australia that a company had proposed to remove carbon dioxide from the gas stream as it came from below the surface of the sea and lock it up underneath the surface of the earth in a geological formation that was safe. The Chevron Corporation, the American oil company that led that joint venture and still does, took this decision because it understood the very high environmental standards which are sought by our society and which can be achieved by our engineering standards and which are also affordable. At the time, I recall looking at that project and seeing a costing for geosequestration that was, in dollar figures, in the low 20s a tonne. So we had on that occasion a company voluntarily offering to geosequester its CO2 in what at that stage was a world-first piece of engineering.
It should be noted by now that there are several very large commercially-operating geosequestration processes around the world. One of the most significant is operated in Norway by Statoil. Statoil runs several facilities at Snohvit and the Sleipner facility which geosequester CO2 from various sources. We also know that in Canada and Algeria there are significant commercially-operating CO2 geosequestration facilities. So our legislative process in Australia meets an engineering and hydrocarbons world that is prepared for the challenge of ensuring that these gases, about which there is significant community concern, can be locked away and preserved under the surface of the earth, never to bother the earth’s climate or our civilisation ever again. It is a tremendous solution. It is a solution that was being found commercially. This legislation was originally pursued by the former government. Many of the early considerations for technological solutions, a legislative framework and a regulatory framework to support geosequestration were supported by the former government and, in particular, by the former Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources, Mr Ian Macfarlane. His work is significant and should be acknowledged.
In Western Australia, where there are significant energy resources that are yet to be unlocked to fuel the raging economies in China, Korea and Japan, there is a massive amount of research taking place into how to best capture CO2 and how to best store it. That research is being carried out at various institutions, but some of the most interesting research is taking place at Curtin University of Technology. At Curtin university, technology was created to freeze gas in order to drop the CO2 out of the commercially available methane gas. It is a technology that we have seen before: it creates a substance called a hydrate. We have known of hydrates in the hydrocarbons industry for some significant period of time. Not so long ago, a massive offshore oil explosion took place in the North Sea at the Piper Alpha facility because a hydrates block in a pipe caused a build-up of pressure, an explosion and a massive fire, and many deaths. That same technology today can be used to capture CO2 and to drop it out of a production process where it can then be regassed and stored.
As I say, Western Australia is a leader in this field. In my own electorate of Brand, Alcoa, the aluminium company, has been sequestering CO2 in mud lakes for the last few years. CO2 is taken out of a gas stream that is created by supporting industries around the Kwinana strip and is piped to a mud lake and then, in a chemical reaction, bonds with the substances in that mud lake. This changes the alkalinity of the mud, making it available for another production process. But most importantly, as we speak here today, 70,000 tonnes per annum of CO2 are locked away in this fashion.
We have excellent research, we have the first step into a regulatory regime that is understood and supported by the hydrocarbon industry and we have a known technology that can lead us into the future and help Australia build an industry which is clean, is able to fuel economies in our region, is able to create great jobs—young people these days love the idea of being recruited to work in an industry which is safe, clean, environmentally sensitive and responsive—and, most importantly in this context, is supplying a fuel which, when used in the economies of China, Japan or Korea, burns in a clean way, thereby removing carbon intensive fuels from the economies where this fuel is being consumed. It is a great process, it is a great piece of technology and it is a piece of technology that has application for static energy generation in our coal industries once the technologies are better developed to capture carbon dioxide from flue pipes. It is also a technology that is able to be replicated over and over again wherever we find massive emissions of CO2 which we wish to take from the environment.
You do not have to be a person concerned about climate change to support these technologies. You do not have to be a person convinced that the earth’s climate is changing as a consequence of human industrial activity to support these initiatives. It happens to be good business, it happens to be good environmental management and it happens to be something which industry supports and our community demands. If we are to be successful in unlocking the massive opportunity available to our nation through the oil and gas industry and through energy generation, this technology and these solutions point the way to the future. I commend the bills to the House.