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Australia Picks Top Five Technologies to Reduce Emissions

James Thornhill
·3-min read

(Bloomberg) --

The Australian government will prioritize investment in five low-emission technologies to reduce greenhouse gas pollution, while continuing to avoid putting a price on carbon.

Hydrogen produced from renewables, electricity storage, low-carbon steel and aluminum production, carbon capture and storage, and soil carbon are the five areas selected for development, Energy Minister Angus Taylor plans to announce in a speech Tuesday, according to prepared remarks provided by his office.

“In emissions reduction it is the race for cost effective low and negative emissions technologies that will strengthen our economy not weaken it,” Taylor said, fleshing out the technology-based plan for reducing emissions he first announced in February. “History has also shown us that you don’t tax your way out of a challenge like this.”

Australia is one of the biggest per-capita carbon polluters in the world, with the startup of several major gas export projects in recent years threatening to derail progress toward the nation’s Paris climate target. Still, lockdowns to help contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic this year have caused a reduction in greenhouse gas.

The government would prioritize the five technologies in its own investments, with A$18 billion ($13 billion) earmarked over the next decade, while streamlining regulation and encouraging more private capital. It also announced a set of targets by which to measure progress:

Long duration power delivered to the grid from energy storage at under A$100 per megawatt-hourCarbon dioxide compression, transport, and storage under A$20 per tonLow emissions steel production under A$900/ton and aluminum under A$2,700/tonSoil carbon measurement for less than A$3 a hectare per year

The goals are in addition to a previously announced target of hydrogen production at under A$2 per kilogram.

Read: Australia Shifts Green Fund Focus Away From Wind, Solar

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australia will comfortably meet its Paris climate target of cutting emissions by 26%-28% from 2005 levels by 2030, but has not enshrined it into law.

He also hasn’t followed the lead of all state governments in setting a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. Calls from business and environmental groups to introduce a market-based mechanism to charge big emitters for their carbon pollution have also been rebuffed.

“The priority technologies appear to do little to reverse Australia’s high emissions over the next decade,” the Australia Institute, a climate-focused think tank, said in a media release. It criticized the announcement for providing no detail on how emissions would be reduced over the Paris Agreement period.

The government also said an expert panel that advised on its technology road map will be made into a permanent advisory body helmed by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. Macquarie Group Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Shemara Wikramanayake will also serve on the new council, as well as Australian Gas Infrastructure Group head Ben Wilson and former Origin Energy Ltd. CEO Grant King.

“A new technology council with two gas executives and no renewable energy representatives is a great example of who’s behind the wheel of this tech roadmap that will drive Australia backwards on emissions,” said Richie Merzian, the AI’s Climate & Energy Director.

(Updates with public policy think tank reaction from ninth paragraph)

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