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PM launches clean coal institute -

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Reporter: Sabra Lane

PETER CAVE: The Prime Minister is trying to reassert his Government's credentials on global
warming. The first of two parliamentary inquiries into the Government's climate change policy hands
down its finding this afternoon, and Kevin Rudd has chosen today to officially launch the Global
Carbon Capture and Storage Institute in Canberra.

That's a program aimed at speeding up the commercialisation of the so far unproven 'clean coal'
technology. The Prime Minister says Australia has widespread support for the project. The
Opposition has endorsed it, saying it's the Coalition's idea, but is critical of the time the
Government has taken to set it all up.

From Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister, a famous policy wonk, loves a good acronym - like the GFC, ETS,
CPRS - and the list is getting longer.

KEVIN RUDD: The GCCSI was built on the excellent work already being done in many of the member
countries represented in this room.

SABRA LANE: The GCCSI is the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. Kevin Rudd officially
launched it this morning, at the meeting of the institute's foundation members.

The aim is to accelerate the development of carbon capture and storage technology - that's
capturing the carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants and burying them underground. It's
unproven commercially, but if successful would be to the nation's benefit - as Australia is the
world's largest coal exporter, and coal is the country's most valuable export.

KEVIN RUDD: This institute recognises the cold, hard reality that coal will be the major source of
power generation for many years to come. With the 2008 IEA world energy outlook forecasting that
the share of electricity generation sourced from coal will rise from 41 per cent now to 44 per cent
by 2030, this is a reality we have to deal with.

Australia, therefore, has a national and shared global responsibility to establish the workability
of this technology and to establish it at scale.

SABRA LANE: The Government's set aside $100-million to set up the program, and so far has signed up
16 other governments and 50 major companies to contribute to the institute.

KEVIN RUDD: If we are to respond effectively to the enormous threat of climate change across the
world, we must increase energy efficiency, diversify into less carbon intensive sources, and
crucially, we must reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

This will require investments across the world into search and technology solutions that can reduce
greenhouse gas emissions, while also ensuring energy security. But we need to develop those
solutions fast. We do not have any more time to waste.

SABRA LANE: The Prime Minister says coal will remain an important energy source into the future,
and so he says, the world must find ways of making it environmentally friendly.

KEVIN RUDD: Given the trajectory of increased coal consumption in the decades ahead, carbon capture
and storage is crucially important to solving the global challenge of climate change. It is
therefore urgent that we drive an international portfolio of industrial-scale CCS demonstration
projects. Industrial-scale demonstration CCS projects.

SABRA LANE: The Opposition's spokesman is Greg Hunt he says he has no objection to an idea that was
originally the Coalition's. But he accuses the Government of losing 18 months on such an important
issue.

GREG HUNT: It's a Coalition initiative which was axed effectively at the last election, put on hold
at the Budget, re-announced on the 19th of September last year, and finally, finally today, we are
seeing what was in place before the election being re-announced.

It's a classic example of the Rudd doctrine: abandon what's in place, re-badge, re-announce,
restart, and it doesn't matter if we lose 18 months and good work along the way.

SABRA LANE: And Mr Hunt's calling on the Government to take concrete steps to reduce emissions.

GREG HUNT: The most simple and practical thing we can do is commit to building two clean coal power
stations in Australia by 2020. These would create rather than destroy jobs. No more delays, no more
impediments, and please get on with it.

The second thing is, what we also need is a green carbon initiative, which will help make real,
profound and immediate changes in Australia's emissions profile, which will give us time to get our
energy sector right, and which will allow us to put in place both the solar continent vision, and
the clean coal initiatives that we need.

SABRA LANE: The Greens say it's all rubbish. Climate change spokeswoman, Senator Christine Milne.

CHRISTINE MILNE: I don't believe that carbon capture and storage will ever be economically viable.
I think renewables will leapfrog that technology in the timeframe. It is no surprise that the
United States and China are working heavily on the renewables and the efficiencies, and allowing
Australia to pour its money into carbon capture and storage.

To me, this is another case of corporate welfare - more subsidies to the coal industry, more
attempts to keep coal central to Australia's economic future, instead of recognising we need
transformative policies that get us to a low carbon, zero carbon economy as quickly as possible.

PETER CAVE: The Greens' Senator Christine Milne ending that report from Sabra Lane in Canberra.