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What does PM Howard know about suppressed ‘clean coal’ report?

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Senator Christine Milne

What does PM Howard know about suppressed ‘clean coal’report?

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Prime Minister John Howard must disclose what he and his government know about a CSIRO study into ‘clean coal’ technology that is being suppressed because its findings don’t suit the coal industry’s agenda, the Australian Greens said today.

Greens climate change and energy spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said ‘clean coal’ is a central plank of the Howard government’s response to climate change but there are numerous problems with the experimental technology and now it has emerged through Estimates hearings that a critical report is being withheld.

“The Howard government has told Australians that ‘clean coal’ technology will meet Australia’s future energy needs while addressing climate change but there are many obstacles to this experimental technology,” Senator Milne said in Canberra.

“Now we learn that a CSIRO report identifying problems with some aspects of the technology has been withheld from the public and may never see the light of day.

“The traditional solvent-based carbon capture and storage (CCS) method (MEA) will double the cost of electricity. The CSIRO was examining an alternative solvent method - the aqua ammonia process - but found serious problems with it to the extent that it was unlikely to be commercially viable or scientifically feasible.

“The report was prepared for the CRC for Coal in Sustainable Development, the same CRC that withheld a CSIRO report on the potential of solar thermal power to replace coal for Australia’s energy

needs until the Canberra Times published a draft version.

“The withholding of the ‘clean coal’ report comes 12 months after revelations of how the coal industry has influenced federal government climate change policy.

“Prime Minister Howard must reveal what he and his government know about this latest report. Does he condone keeping the findings from the public because they don’t suit the agenda of the coal industry which the coalition government backs?

“The Greens are calling for the report to be released immediately for public scrutiny.

“Relying on fossil fuels for energy is unsustainable in a world that needs to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions in the next 10 years if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change.

“Australians deserve a serious climate change strategy that will drive a transition to a low carbon economy, not a government prepared to support an industry that would prefer to keep people in the dark about the pitfalls of the action it advocates.”

Contact: Katrina Willis 03 6224 8899 or 0437 587 562