Australia backs carbon capture, storage

Angus Taylor says voluntary incentives, not penalties, are essential in efforts to reduce emissions.
Angus Taylor says voluntary incentives, not penalties, are essential in efforts to reduce emissions.

Australia will credit carbon abatement from large-scale capture and storage projects as the clock ticks on Scott Morrison's bid to get the Nationals over the line for a 2050 net zero target.

Under the Emissions Reduction Fund method announced on Friday, large-scale projects that capture and permanently store carbon underground can be awarded tradable credit units.

Each of these Australian Carbon Credit Units is equivalent to one tonne of carbon emissions avoided or abated.

Carbon capture and storage has been criticised and its efficacy questioned amid a push to support renewables and not fossil fuels.

Under the scheme, projects will be able to sell the units to the Australian government at bi-annual auctions or sell them on the private voluntary market.

"Voluntary incentives, not penalties, are an essential part of our plan to play our part in global efforts to reduce emissions without imposing new costs on Australian households and business," Energy Minister Angus Taylor said.

The government expects the plan to benefit energy-intensive sectors including LNG production, which currently accounts for around 10 per cent of Australia's emissions.

It will also support hydrogen production from coal and gas.

Australia is yet to commit to a target of net zero by 2050, one month out from United Nations climate talks in Glasgow.

The prime minister may not attend the climate summit, with Australia instead being represented by senior ministers.

Some Nationals figures remain steadfast in their opposition to any such target.

Nationals minister Bridget McKenzie said she had not seen the plan the government will take to Glasgow.

"We want to see the plan that government is taking to Glasgow so we can assess and understand the consequences and impacts on our people and our economic future, not just until the next election, not just to Glasgow, but for decades to come," she told ABC radio.

The Nationals argue regional and rural jobs must be guaranteed and power prices kept low under any proposal.

Senator McKenzie says Australia's agriculture sector is taking strong action to reduce emissions and ensure their produce is greener.

"It's happening with farmers understanding that there is a better price to be paid globally from that type of product," she said.

The senator earlier took a swipe at Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, saying it was easy for metropolitan MPs to embrace net zero because it would not affect their constituents.

The Minerals Council of Australia is among the latest groups to throw their support behind net zero by 2050.

"This ambition can only be achieved through significant investment in technology," chief executive Tania Constable said.

"Member companies are proactively adopting or considering a range of technologies including those that are already available and others where breakthrough development technology is still required."

The government will next year develop methods under its Emissions Reduction Fund to cover transport, farming and savanna fire management.

Integrity concerns have been raised over some carbon credits under the fund.

An analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australia Institute think tank labelled credits designed to avoid deforestation "junk" because they were issued for land that was never going to be cleared.

Australian Associated Press