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Dumping carbon dioxide in deep ocean wrong response to climate change.

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Senator Christine Milne

Dumping carbon dioxide in deep ocean wrong response to climate change

Senator Milne, Thursday, 14 September, 2006

The Australian Greens today called on the Howard government not to proceed with its attempt to undermine an international treaty protecting the world's oceans so that carbon dioxide can be dumped at sea.

The government has given notice that it will try to amend an international treaty at a meeting in November to permit geosequestration in the seabed.

Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said the government's actions would further undermine international environmental laws and risked serious pollution of the world's oceans which are already growing more acidic because of climate change.

"It's bad enough that the Australian government is undermining international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol but now it wants to undermine the protocol* to protect the world's oceans from pollution," Senator Milne said in Canberra.

"A report in Science magazine in July about an experiment in the US stated that carbon dioxide injected into saline sedimentary aquifers caused carbonates and other minerals to dissolve rapidly, which could cause CO2 and brine to leak into the water table.

"The world's oceans are already becoming more acidic because of climate change. Pumping carbon dioxide into them with the risk of leakage from storage cavities will only exacerbate this problem, threatening many species and coral reefs.

"Is there no lengths to which the government will not go to advance the interests of the coal industry?

"Geosequestration is expensive and a long way from being proven to work. Why won't the government focus its funding and efforts instead on solutions to climate change that are available right now - energy efficiency, renewable energy, and better public transport?"

* Australia is a signatory to the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter (London Convention 1972). The protocol replaced the London Convention in March this year.

Contact: Katrina Willis 03 6234 4566 or 0437 587 562