Less than two weeks ago, Greenpeace released a damning report on carbon capture and storage (CCS) labelled “False Hope” which outlined the problems associated with the unproven technology. Central to CSS’s flaws is that it’s proponents are asking us to pin our hopes that it may be available by 2030. This in unacceptable given there are proven solutions to help us reduce greenhouse pollution now – 2030 is just too late if you want to seriously tackle climate change.
Since then, the Rudd government has handed down its first budget which all but killed off the domestic solar industry and re-committed billions to support the profitable coal industry. Rudd’s rationale for means testing the solar subsidy is that the government has to draw the line somewhere. Obviously the line is different, depending on whether you’re an “Australian working family” on over $100,000 income and want to do something to reduce your greenhouse pollution, or whether your a multi-billion dollar corporation.
Every dollar the government spends on CCS is a dollar that could have been spent on renewables or efficiencies. For example if Kevin Rudd chose to fund 100% of the cost of insulation for 1,000,000 households at a cost of $500 each, the average saving would be up to 2000GWh, which would also reduce greenhouse emissions by 2 million tonnes. So not only would over a million Australians save money on their electricity bills, but nationally we would have immediately cut our greenhouse pollution.
One of CCS’s shining lights was BP and Rio Tinto’s Kwinana Project in Western Australia. Spruiked as the “ideal location” for such a project, these two heavyhitters were talking up the prospects with the likelihood of the project being up and running by 2014. But just this week, both companies – with everything to gain from keeping coal in Australia’s energy mix – have pulled out of the project. Unlike the fanfare and hype that surrounded the Otway carbon demonstration injection well, the collapse of the Kwinana project has caused barely more than a ripple in the public debate on CCS. What is Kevin Rudd’s response to this development and it’s impact on meeting the deadline to prove CCS is more than a theory?
Two fossil fuel companies with much at stake failed in their globally trumpeted CCS project due to technical reasons. Instead of this failed project giving the government serious consideration of the dubious merits of the grand CCS experiment, they have this week announced their renewed invigoration for undersea CCS.
How many failed flagship CCS projects will it take for the Rudd government to get serious about implementing immediate solutions to turn around greenhouse emissions? Rather than killing of the fledgling domestic solar industry, the Rudd government should be thinking about how to reduce our reliance on oil and coal.