Clean coal technology way forward

DESPITE criticism from environmental groups that their agendas are not being heard, the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, also known as AP6, got underway in Sydney yesterday, bringing together for the first time six of the world’s key producers of greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to seek an alternative to the Kyoto agreement.
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Staff Reporter

The six nations – the United States, Australia, Japan, South Korea, China and India – met at the climate conference to discuss ways of reducing greenhouse emissions through a climate partnership.

The focus of the partnership was to invest in cleaner technologies said chairman of the White House Council on environmental quality Jim Connaughton, who is heading the American delegation. Speaking yesterday on ABC Radio, he said one key goal of the summit was to reduce greenhouse gases associated with climate change.

Connaughton said this conference was different to previous approaches in that each nation was tabling its own portfolio of objectives and targets as opposed to complying with a one-size-fits-all approach.

“So, for example, in the US we are committed to reducing our greenhouse gas intensity by 18%, and we're working on cutting the air pollution from coal-fired power plants by 70%, and cutting the air pollution from diesel engines by more than 90%,” he said.

“China will be coming to the table with portfolios similar to that. Japan as well. Out of that, we're going to get our business sectors together, and that's the key piece here. We have business leaders who are the folks who actually make the management decisions, and make the multi-billion-dollar investments in making a cleaner energy future possible.”

Australian industry minister Ian Macfarlane told ABC Radio that greenhouse reductions achieved through AP6 would be about three times cheaper than Kyoto.

The goal of the conference is also to find ways to move beyond individual company projects – such as the construction of one clean coal facility – and essentially globalise important technologies, such as methane capture from coal mining.

Meanwhile, the Australian newspaper reported coal producers – including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata – are planning to launch a voluntary industry-wide fund by the end of March that will invest in developing clean coal technologies.

The timing is important to allow the industry to access the Federal Government's $500 million low-emissions technology fund. Only large projects will be supported in the order of $1 for every $2 invested by industry. By pooling resources, mining companies can hope to gain greater leverage.

The fund will be managed under the auspices of the Australian Coal Association (ACA), which manages the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) to which coal mining companies already contribute 5c per tonne of coal produced.