Another Cul-de-sac? Gippsland Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS)

CCS Lease Area
CCS Lease Area

Recently a press release by the Minister for Energy Lily D’Ambrosio stated that the “Victorian Government is releasing offshore acreage in state waters to investigate opportunities for storing greenhouse gas emissions safely in deep rock formations off the Gippsland coast, between Seaspray and Loch Sport” and “The Federal Government released offshore acreage in adjoining Commonwealth waters in May last year to allow investigation into the potential for greenhouse gas emission storage. The state government release finishes this process.” This indicates that there are sections of both state and federal bureaucracies that have not come to the realisation that CCS is a dead end. That there are still people employed in government departments considering CCS is a waste of time and tax dollars. That it is worth a Minister’s time to put out a press release is also a distraction from the main game which is rapid and effective action to mitigate climate change.

It has been clear for some time that CCS, pushed by the fossil fuel industry, is an unsatisfactory solution to the climate crisis. It is energy intensive, inefficient, expensive and, like nuclear energy, never likely to have an effect on our ‘climate emergency’ on a grand enough scale. Unlike solar or wind, it is still unproven technology and optimistic projections as to when it could be successfully deployed extend well beyond 2030. One source, particularly relevant to the Gippsland proposals, noted that storing CO2 underground may have ‘unintended consequences’.  CCS then is a ‘white elephant’.

The State Labour government has done some good things with regards climate change but it continues to send mixed, and sometimes confusing, messages. But it is yet to really make an impression by banning further unconventional gas and coal exploration licences – two relatively easy steps to take – which should also include a reorganisation of the mining section of the relevant department. Real action will involve the phasing out of both the Latrobe Valley brown coal fired generators and the native forest loggers. It is apparent there should be a ‘just transition’ in both these industries – meaning employment opportunities should be boosted in the relevant areas by state intervention. On the other hand state intervention as highlighted by the calling of these tenders is another subsidy for the fossil fuel industry. It is still sending the wrong message.