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Media Release
Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

3 November 2006

Australia leads the world in push for carbon storage under the ocean floor


Australia has successfully led an international push to allow carbon to be stored deep beneath the ocean floor as part of global efforts to address climate change, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said today.

An international agreement, known as the London Protocol, which governs the responsible and environmentally sensible management of wastes and other matters in the marine environment, was amended overnight in London.

The Australian-led amendments, championed by Senator Campbell, will allow member countries to capture carbon-dioxide streams and store them in geological formations deep under the ocean floor, while protecting the marine environment.

"This is a win for Australia but more importantly for the international fight against climate change," said Senator Campbell.

"Carbon capture and storage - or geosequestration - is one of the crucial tools in our toolbox. These technologies are relatively new but have enormous potential to help the world reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

"This Australian-led push will now enable carbon to be stored under the ocean floor in a safe, responsible and environmentally effective way, while potentially making a substantial contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

"What this really means is we can put the carbon that we extract from under the ocean floor through gas and other mineral exploration - carbon that has been sitting there for millions of years - back where it belongs.

"Geosequestration uses largely existing technology, but applies it in a new way to permanently prevent the captured carbon-dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

"Like onshore geosequestration, storing carbon dioxide beneath the ocean floor will be an important part of our 'multi-track' response to climate change. It is an example of the important role low emission technologies can play. Australia has consistently argued that a range of technologies will be needed to address climate change.

Senator Campbell said that climate change is now being recognised as a serious problem by the international community, and that the Australian Government has welcomed this opportunity to again negotiate practical international solutions in the fight against climate change.

"It is important that national and international legal frameworks keep up with the rapid rate of development of new technologies to lessen the effects of climate change," Senator Campbell said.

"The Australian Government is driving the development of these low-emission technologies at home through its $500 million Low Emission Technology Demonstration Fund."

I particularly thank France, Norway, Spain, Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom who cosponsored Australia's amendment.

The amendment was adopted yesterday at a meeting in London of the Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter. The London Protocol has 29 members.

Media contact:
Rob Broadfield 02 6277 7640 or 0409 493 902

Commonwealth of Australia