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Carbon sequestration critical for Australia: New Report

Climate Change Authority Media Release

Sequestration is a necessary part of any rapid, urgent decarbonisation, and the sequestration industry represents a huge opportunity for Australia if we get it right, according to a new Insights Report released today by the Climate Change Authority.

The paper Reduce, remove and store: The role of carbon sequestration in accelerating Australia’s decarbonisation, contains 23 policy insights as part of a “deep dive” designed to help policymakers, emitters and markets to better understand how sequestration can be scaled-up, accelerated and used responsibly.

What is Carbon sequestration? Carbon sequestration is the capture and storage of carbon. Carbon can be captured from the atmosphere or from point sources of emissions. Once captured, carbon can be stored in geological formations, biological material, minerals, the ocean or long-lived products.

“Meeting the Paris Agreement objectives for limiting global warming is only possible with both rapid reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and the removal of emissions from the atmosphere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and International Energy Agency indicate the only technically feasible, cost effective and socially acceptable pathways to net zero by 2050 combine ambitious emissions reductions with carbon dioxide removals at far greater scale than at present,” Mr Brad Archer, CEO of the Climate Change Authority said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that for a 50 per cent chance of limiting global warming to below 1.5°C, around 6 billion tonnes of CO2 would have to be removed per year by 2050 globally, and about 14 billion tonnes per year by 2100.

“The Authority’s Report highlights that more work is required to map and understand just how much of Australia’s sequestration potential can be realised,” said Mr Archer.

“While reducing emissions at source is critical, the extent of the climate challenge means there must be effort directed to sequestration. We need to use all the tools in the toolkit. That includes developing a carefully designed portfolio of approaches, as no single technology can achieve the levels of sequestration likely to be needed.”

Other key policy insights from the report include:

  • The Government’s forthcoming net zero plan and the Authority’s Annual Progress Reports should include sequestration and identify how it will be delivered and used over time.
  • Separate targets for emissions reduction and carbon removals should be set to help incentivise future demand and help guard against sequestration being used to delay emissions reductions.
  • Sectoral pathways and targets for decarbonisation would improve understanding of the likely future demand for sequestration, by clarifying the extent to which mitigation is likely to be possible, particularly from production processes in the agriculture and industrial sectors.
  • Governments should pursue policies that help ensure there is adequate supply of sequestration to meet demand, including policies that: 1) prioritise direct emissions reductions where economically feasible; 2) protect, increase, and renew biological sequestration; and 3) scale-up engineered and geological sequestration, both onshore and offshore.
  • Australia should prioritise sequestration approaches that make optimum use of resources (land, energy, and water) for the volume of carbon stored. Addressing market imperfections would enable markets to better resolve trade-offs in an economically efficient way.
  • Global demand for sequestration and low emissions energy is expected to grow rapidly over the coming decades, presenting economic opportunities for Australia to support increasing global ambition, establish new industries and reinvent existing ones.

The policy insights presented in this paper will inform the Authority’s upcoming work, including advice for the Minister for Climate Change and Energy’s second Annual Climate Change Statement and Australia’s next Nationally Determined Contribution.

To learn more, click here.


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  1. Phil Pryor

    I intend to remain in suspended animation for my remaining years (or less) and no food, drink, activity will interfere with all opportunities for observing progress as is suggested as being essential in this article. If useful, I will wash, wipe, sleep, clothe and exfoliate in carbon…while going nowhere.

  2. margcal


    What time frame does all this photosynthesis, carbon breakdown, etc happen and how many trees does it take… for billions and billions of tonnes of CO2, year on year for how long? If CCS is the answer, we might as well make like the USAmericans and shoot ourselves now.

    We certainly need to plant more trees. God knows we’ve chopped enough of them down so that topsoil is lost and random water runoff makes it hard to fill dams. And for oxygenation of the air we breathe. But to compensate for CO2 production. I don’t think so.

    The only foolproof way to reduce emissions is to reduce emissions. And we’re doing our darnedest to avoid doing that!

  3. andy56

    CCS is such an obvious folly. About as exciting as a new nuclear industry or hydrogen car. It costs money, lots of money and then it will only capture less than 1% of what we spew out. To top it off, the industry wants THE GOVERNMENT to fund the research. I can think of a few reasons why the industry should just die off. The fossil fuel industries have been reluctant to invest because obviously they wont make any money from it.

  4. Andrew Smith

    Some would suggest it’s greenwashing or a ‘mirage’ for delay and slowing transition away from carbon or fossil fuels:

    Food & Water Watch – ‘Top 5 Reasons Carbon Capture And Storage (CCS) Is Bogus

    Carbon Capture Is an Expensive Failure
    Carbon Capture Is Energy Intensive
    Carbon Capture Actually Increases Emissions
    Storage Presents Significant Risks
    Carbon Capture Trades Off With Other Critical Solutions (e.g. transition to renewables)

    Top 5 Reasons Carbon Capture And Storage (CCS) Is Bogus

  5. Canguro

    Too little, too late. Fossil fuel corporations committed to ongoing extraction, ramping up their operations re. gas, coal, oil. Governments planet-wide with few exceptions all dragging their chains and no evidence of willingness to mandate slowdown or shutdown of carbon-based energy industries at source or supply level. CO2 atmospheric levels still rising, along with all the consequences predicted, environmentally, socially, anthropogenically.

  6. Stephen S

    When Andrew Smith and I are on the same page, you know there’s a problem with CCS. Net Zero and CCS are fairy stories, and CCA is Australia’s chief storyteller.

  7. leefe

    Yer, what they all ^^^^^^^ said.

  8. andy56

    CCS is about as stupid as synthetic fuel when EVs will wipe the floor. I do believe we are now in the “valley of death” in china’s car industry. It just seems to me that the fossil fuel industry wants to sell something , anything to keep making profits. Parasites are trading our future for a few shekels. Another good reason your next car should be an EV

  9. Andrew Smith

    Yes Stephen S. bit like blaming unspecified economic and/or population ‘growth’ for emissions, while nuclear has popped up in recent years as part of the delay as a carbon alternative. However evidence is already out there, that there can be economic ‘growth’ in services, transactions etc. & population growth, with a decline in emissions.

    See FT in ‘Economics may take us to net zero all on its own. The plummeting cost of low-carbon energy has already allowed many countries to decouple economic growth from emissions’


    Last week in Czechia or Slovakia they had to shut down the solar network as it had started to overproduce power, potential to overload network.

  10. Fred

    Andy: If every car on the planet was converted to an EV, there wouldn’t be enough Lithium, so we will need a complimentary fuel such as hydrogen.

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