Address to the Australia and Southeast Asia Global CCS Institute Forum


Thank you to the Global CCS Institute for this invitation to speak.

I am speaking to you from the Ngunnawal and Ngmabri country here in Canberra and would like to acknowledge the Larrakia people on whose lands you gather today. I pay my respects to Elders, past and present. I extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the audience today.

The Australian Government is strongly committed to reaching our net zero emissions target by 2050. We have legislated for net zero and there can be no doubting our resolve on this front.

But we can only get to net zero by ensuring our economy remains strong and energy is affordable and reliable for businesses and households.

Support for our resources sector is vital to maintaining a strong economy. And achieving net zero will need more mining, not less, to provide the raw materials needed for clean energy technologies.

Batteries, wind farms, solar panels – they all need minerals, and we will need gas to process the minerals to build them.

Without a thriving resources sector there will be no net zero. The road to net zero runs through the resources sector.

The Government welcomes the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero Roadmap as a key guide in progressing towards net zero emissions, while balancing the individual needs and strengths of each nation.

Our resources sector understands the need to reduce emissions and is developing new technologies and adopting cleaner production processes.

Key among industry efforts to reduce emissions is Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage, (Carbon capture for short).

By managing emissions from Australia’s oil and gas production activities, carbon capture presents an opportunity to decarbonise Australia’s energy exports, in particular gas processing, Liquefied Natural Gas activities and potentially hydrogen.

The use of CCUS will allow us to become a top exporter of low-carbon intensity energy in our region.

CCUS will also become essential if we are to manage emissions for industrial processes that have no known technological alternatives, such as cement and some chemical manufacturing processes.

And what is quite exciting I think is the possibility of using carbon capture to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through technologies like Direct Air Capture and biofuels with Carbon Capture and Storage.

Australia has the ability to become a world leader in the emerging carbon capture industry, with large, stable geological formations for greenhouse gas storage.

To help with this, in the October Budget the Government committed $141 million over 10 years to implement a new Carbon Capture Technologies Program.

Establishing these capabilities will help secure Australian jobs and prosperity in a rapidly decarbonising world.

Australia has already entered into low emission partnership agreements with the Republic of Korea, Japan and Singapore, which includes cooperation on Carbon capture.   

Our collaboration with these countries on key policy, regulatory and technical matters will further enhance and progress the development of this essential technology.

We are also a member of the Japan-led Asia Carbon Capture Use and Storage Network that seeks to support deployment of Carbon capture through the Southeast Asia region. 

Collaboration includes technical and research work in mineralisation and carbonation technologies, synthetic aviation fuel, methanation and carbon dioxide storage monitoring injection and testing.

Australia has a huge capacity for geological storage of carbon dioxide in saline aquifers and depleted fields, both onshore and offshore.

Geoscience Australia is leading work in this field, identifying possible sites around Australia for storage.

There are some 16 projects that are at various stages of development across Australia. 

For example, under the Carbon Capture Use and Storage Development Fund, Boral Ltd and Mineral Carbonation International are working on technologies focused on the cement and concrete industries, which pose challenges in abatement. 

The Gorgon Project off the coast of Western Australia is Australia’s only Carbon Capture Use and Storage project in operation, and since August 2019 it has injected over seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide into a deep saline formation beneath Barrow Island.

It is fair to say that there are enormous expectations placed on Chevron’s CCUS project, with the project experiencing challenges along the way and it has far from met those expectations.

I do not doubt Chevron’s resolve to make this important project work and I want to acknowledge their efforts and investment in progressing practical CCUS.

It remains one of the biggest carbon capture and storage projects in the world and is essential for the reputation and the science of CCUS. To ensure greater support for this critical abatement technology in the wider community the industry must get runs on the board. Perhaps a double century innings even.

While the industry develops CCUS it is important to remember that the Government’s Offshore Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release program is a key mechanism to support the sector.

It enables investment in carbon capture projects in Commonwealth waters while supporting reduced emissions from energy-intensive industries.

Five greenhouse gas assessment permits have been awarded following the 2021 Offshore Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release.

The permits are the first Greenhouse Gas titles granted in offshore Australia outside of the Victorian Government’s CarbonNet project.

The granting of these permits will enable industry to explore for potential injection and storage sites.

Nominations for the next Offshore Greenhouse Gas Storage Acreage Release are being considered.

But nationally and internationally, we have a long way to go with Carbon capture.

The International Energy Agency has said that in order to reach net zero emissions by 2050 we will need to capture 7.6 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide every year over the next 27 years.

This is a significant step-change from the current global capacity to capture only of 42 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

This means there will need to be a 180-fold increase in carbon captured and geologically stored.

Recent climate modelling undertaken by Net Zero Australia finds that Australia will need to develop a carbon capture capacity of approximately 175 million tonnes per annum by 2035 to achieve net zero by 2050.

There are two key challenges.

One is to build sufficient carbon capture and storage capacity off a very low base. And the second is to broaden carbon capture from its current focus on petroleum activities.

The task before us is to meet these challenges. It is vital that we make the most of the opportunities.

Doing so will bring great benefits to Australia and the world.

Indeed it is imperative to the global goal of reaching net zero by 2050 and to fighting dangerous levels of global warming that we make CCUS a success.

Thank you.