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

15 September 2006

Minister pursues legal framework for under seabed carbon dioxide storage

Australia is continuing to push for an international legal framework to enable countries to store carbon dioxide deep beneath the seabed as part of global efforts to address climate change.

Senator Campbell raised the issue while meeting in Zurich with Ministers from about 30 countries for an international Ministerial summit on climate change, saying permanent carbon storage was a crucial part of the fight against climate change.

“Carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies (CCS), such as geosequestration, are relatively new and have enormous potential to help the world reduce its greenhouse gas emissions,” he said.

CCS uses existing technology, but applies it in a new way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel use during industrial and energy-related processes.

“However, because this application is new, it is not yet covered by the current international legal framework, which was first developed more than 30 years ago. This framework includes the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention of 1972, which aims to protect the marine environment from pollution caused by the dumping of land-based wastes at sea.

“Australia is leading international efforts to address this, so that countries are able to best use these technologies in the fight against climate change.

“We have proposed amendments to the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention as part of these efforts, with our proposal co-sponsored by France, Norway, the United Kingdom and Spain. It will be considered in early November when the 27 Parties to the Protocol next meet.

“The amendments would ensure that the carbon-dioxide stream could not be pumped into the ocean water, only into geological formations beneath the seabed.

“Like onshore geosequestration, geosequestration beneath the seabed will be an important part of a ‘multi-track’ response to climate change. It is an example of the important role low-emission technologies can play.

“In a recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reaffirmed the value of CCS in reducing future greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Australian Government is driving the development of these low-emission technologies through its $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund.

“We are working together with a number of countries to develop this technology, but it is imperative that we also develop the right legal framework for future use of the technology.”

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

Commonwealth of Australia