Wednesday, 2 August 2023
Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023; Second Reading
The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023 in front of us today attempts to legitimise carbon capture and storage as an effective climate solution. In reality this is little more than a public relations strategy for the coal and gas industry—to pretend they're doing something about the climate emergency. In Australia carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS, has been promised millions of dollars in public funding, despite incredibly poor results. It is a total flop.
A prime example of this is Chevron's Gorgon CCS project, which sits off the coast of Western Australia. This project was due to commence in 2016 but they didn't start their carbon capture until 2019. Despite being years behind schedule and only reaching one-third of their promised emissions reductions, Chevron still receives millions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies for their project. The Chevron example is just one of many CCS projects failing to meet their targets already. CCS is just not a viable method of reducing emissions at scale. It is a complete dud.
What I'm concerned about is that this legislation could well become an excuse to avoid genuinely effective climate action, serving the commercial interests of the multinational fossil fuel corporations that it should be targeting, not helping. I'm concerned that this bill lacks any form of essential guardrails for ministerial discretion and intervention in the permit-granting process. There is not even a requirement for basic environmental impact assessments to be undertaken when considering new carbon capture and storage projects.
Instead of drastic action on climate change, this government has, once again, spent valuable time and energy to bring forward a bill that appears to be written by the fossil fuel industry for the fossil fuel industry. Let's be clear: this bill is not about reducing emissions. This is about enabling the expansion of fossil fuels by trying to peddle extremely questionable CCS technology. As record temperatures heat the Northern Hemisphere and as the Atlantic and Antarctic regions experience dramatic departures from their standard temperatures, here comes the government paving the way for Santos to expand their Barossa Gas Project.
This government should be taking tangible, meaningful steps to fight climate change and the extinction crisis by putting an end to native forest logging and by ending the expansion of new fossil fuel projects. But here we are again, with the government prioritising legislation that facilitates the expansion of these very industries. The Greens are always willing to work productively with the government to improve legislation but, like the Nature Repair Market Bill proposal from the government earlier this year, this bill is completely ineffective. It is a show of smoke and mirrors.
We are in the middle of a climate emergency, and all we are getting is some tinkering here and some bandaid solutions there. What we need to do is to stop all new fossil fuel projects. This bill should not pass.