Can Australia’s route to net-zero really be fired by carbon capture and LNG?

Short of underplaying the danger of climate change or withholding the science that underpins it, the fossil power business’s only path to survival in the earth of net-zero emissions is carbon capture and repository. This week, the Morrison administration splashed another $250m on CCS and brought in the technology eligible to produce carbon values.

But what stops? According to the emissions deduction official, Angus Taylor, this will provide our exports with a competitive edge and allow Australia to scale up clear LNG production. University of Melbourne Associate Prof Malte Meinshausen, a specialist on means the earth could attain net-zero, is slightly interested.

“To attain the Paris treaty targets, in specific 1.5C, we require CCS. But not in mixture with fossil fuels,” he says. “Wasting taxpayer income by funding CCS in mixture with a gradually perishing fossil fuel business does not support anybody, necessarily not the climate.” Taylor and the steam business together published identical announcements claiming global advisory organizations on power and environment decided with them on CCS. It’s worth settling them side by side.

Taylor said: “The [International Energy Agency] and [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] both regard carbon capture technologies as crucial to attaining the objectives of the Paris Agreement.” The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) stated that: “The International Energy Agency and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change both back CCS as crucial for accomplishing the nation’s climate change objectives.”

But the dilemma is that if you are contending for CCS to assist you to influence more fossil energies – as Taylor and APPEA are – then this is not what the IEA or the IPCC explains. Both organizations formulate strategies for emissions and power that authorize the world to attain net-zero emissions and most – but not all – of those proposals do have a part for CCS.

Meinshausen explains while APPEA and Taylor are technically correct, the declarations are deceitful. “We do not require fossil fuel undertakings with CCS, as the promise that CCS can attain is to generate low emission fossil fuel operations,” he asserts. “We need to quit utilizing fossil fuels and shift to cheaper options.”

The IEA’s summary on extending net zero emissions by 2050 bundles this out, saying that CCS can assist by sacking emissions from prevailing aids and enabling lower-cost and low-carbon hydrogen generation. What the IEA does not announce is anything like “you can employ CCS as a means to remove even more fossil fuels”.

When Taylor and APPEA question the creativity of the IEA, they do it selectively because the IEA’s net-zero summary is also apparent on the possibility for generating additional fossil fuels. That is, there isn’t one. The article says: “Beyond programs already dedicated as of 2021, there are no fresh oil and gas areas ratified for growth in our course [to net zero], and no fresh coal mines or mine additions are required.” Some who are figuring the amounts tell Australian administrations have now pledged about $4bn to CCS over the years with very limited to exhibit for it.

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