Emissions strategy to look beyond renewables to ‘next challenges’
The government’s plan to use technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will look beyond wind and solar energy to the “next challenges”, including hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and methane produced by livestock.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor says a long-term emissions reduction road map, which will not hand out “massive government subsidies”, will be ready by November, in time for the next round of international climate talks.
The government says it won’t commit to an emissions reduction target before it can work out the economic cost of the transition, but has not ruled out setting a target to achieve net zero emissions.
The government has criticised the Opposition for its commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Mr Taylor said in Parliament on Thursday the Opposition had no plan to achieve its emissions reductions, was “making it up as they go along” and risked missing the target or damaging the economy.
He will tell a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum in Sydney on Friday the government has invested more than $10 billion on 670 wind and solar-related projects, valued at $35 billion, and they are now “coming to an end of value”.
“We must move our investments to the next challenges. Hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, lithium and advanced livestock feed supplements to name a few,” he will say.
Mr Taylor says the technology pathway may involve “migration from gas and coal to hydrogen” or it may mean “low-cost” carbon sequestration, either underground or in vegetation growth.
The Morrison government will work with the private sector on a plan to stimulate investment in technologies with the best commercial prospects, Mr Taylor says, which will ensure the “shift to lower emissions is zero cost or low cost”.
The technology road map will assess potential emissions reduction technologies against economic and investment criteria. That means it will look at the potential for research and development to bring down the cost of deploying the technology and how quickly that can happen.
It will also look at the potential for each technology to attract private investment.
Mr Taylor says a consultation paper on the technology will be released in “due course” and “stakeholder sentiment” will be an important part of the strategy.
Australia signed the Paris Agreement in 2015. It does not set a deadline for signatories to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions other than stipulating it should occur before the end of the century.
However, it locks signatories into following the “best available science” on the required “rapid reduction” of emissions, and the “highest level of ambition” to limit global warming to below two degrees and as close to 1.5 degrees as possible.
Investor Group on Climate Change policy director Erwin Jackson told an emissions policy forum at the Australian National University on Wednesday investors were wary of the Australian energy market because “the government has got the prospect of investing in a coal-fired generator, which is exactly the wrong direction if you don’t get net zero emissions”.
Mr Jackson, who represents institutional investors with more than $2 trillion of funds under management, said “investors will stay away until that uncertainty is resolved”, arguing the road map needed to specify which technologies would be developed with government support.
“What we need is a strategy that not only rules in technologies, but also one that rules out technology,” he said.
All state governments have set goals to hit net zero emissions by 2050.