Skip navigation

AGAINST – Bills — Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023; in Committee

Jenny McAllister

I simply want to note where we are in the debate. We're now on day 4 of debate, and we've had a number of opportunities to consider detailed questions about the operation of the bill during the Committee of the Whole. I simply want to indicate to the Senate that the government is aware that a number of amendments have been circulated in the chamber. We're keen for the committee to have the opportunity to consider those amendments, and we'd welcome it if those senators who have circulated amendments were ready to formally move them so that the committee may consider them.

Peter Whish-Wilson

by leave—On that note, I move Australian Greens amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 2142 together:

(1) Schedule 1, page 4 (before line 4), before item 1, insert:

1A Subsection 4(1)


applicable risk framework and guidelines means the following:

(a) the Risk assessment and management framework for CO2 sequestration in sub-seabed geological structures, in Annex 3 to Resolution LC/SG-CO2 1/7 adopted on 3 November 2006 by the Contracting Parties to the Protocol;

(b) the Specific guidelines for the assessment of carbon dioxide for disposal into sub-seabed geological formations, in Annex 8 to Resolution LC 34/15 adopted on 2 November 2012 by the Contracting Parties to the Protocol.

Note: These documents could in 2023 be viewed on the International Maritime Organization's website (https://

(2) Schedule 1, item 3, page 5 (after line 15), after paragraph 19(7B)(d), insert:

(da) that there is an agreement or arrangement in force:

(i) between the Commonwealth and each entity that is proposing to export the controlled material; and

(ii) under which each of those entities agrees to comply with the applicable risk framework and guidelines; and

(db) that the other country to which the export relates has equal or better standards of environmental management, regulation and enforcement as compared to Australia;

(3) Schedule 1, page 5 (after line 16), after item 3, insert:

3A After section 21


22 Conditions imposed by this section in respect of permits for the export of controlled material

(1) This section applies for each permit for the export of controlled material from Australia to another country for dumping.

(2) A condition imposed in respect of the permit is that the holder of the permit must:

(a) monitor whether the export of controlled material for dumping, or any act or omission relating to the export, is likely to cause or result in any condition or damage of the kind set out in paragraph 16(1)(a), (b) or (c); and

(b) ensure that such a condition or such damage does not arise; and

(c) repair or remedy any such condition, or mitigate any such damage, as does arise.

(3) A condition imposed in respect of the permit is that the holder of the permit must, at all times after the permit has been granted, maintain financial assurance sufficient to give the holder the capacity to meet costs, expenses and liabilities arising in connection with, or as a result of complying (or failing to comply) with:

(a) the condition imposed by subsection (2); or

(b) any other requirement under this Act or a legislative instrument under this Act, in relation to the export.

(4) Without limiting subsection (3), the forms of financial assurance that may be maintained include one or more of the following:

(a) insurance;

(b) a bond;

(c) the deposit of an amount as security with a financial institution;

(d) an indemnity or other surety;

(e) a letter of credit from a financial institution;

(f) a mortgage.

(5) This section does not limit the conditions that may be imposed on the permit by the Minister under section 21. However, sections 21, 23 and 25 do not apply to a condition imposed by this section.

Note: Failure to comply with a condition imposed by this section, or by the Minister under section 21, is an offence (see section 36).

(6) The conditions imposed under this section in respect of the permit continue to apply in relation to the holder of the permit if the permit ceases to be in force.

(4) Schedule 1, item 4, page 5 (after line 28), at the end of the item, add:

(4) Section 22 of the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981, as inserted by this Part, applies in relation to permits granted on or after the commencement of this item.

It's interesting that over the few days that we have been debating this bill—while, yes, it is our fourth day now—government business time has been fairly restricted. It's not as if we've had a great length of time where we've been able to get into the detail. But, while these four days of debate have occurred, we've had some really important reports, both national and global, drop in relation to the content of the Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023. Yesterday I talked about the Code blue: our oceans in crisis report released by the Climate Council, which warned of the impending risks and catastrophe for our oceans if we don't really act on emissions.

Then last night we had the Production gap report 2023 dropped by the United Nations Environment Programme and other partners, and I do ask senators to read this report. The first page goes into all the significant contributions from around the world as to how we can actually meet our 1.5 per cent climate targets. While they say that the Glasgow get-together was very encouraging in terms of the level of global commitment, what this 2023 gap report has shown is that the exact opposite has happened to the pledges made—especially by the so-called 'petrostates', like Australia. In fact, we've seen a ramping-up of fossil fuel production and plans for new projects. The Guardian, internationally, had an article on this last night. It talked about the insanity we're facing currently, where countries commit to do one thing but are in fact doing the exact opposite and where we have fossil fuel companies running rampant, with no government holding them to account.

Interestingly, if you get into the detail of this report, there are significant sections on carbon capture and storage. That includes carbon capture and storage in our oceans. Perhaps I, like Senator McAllister, could just do a very quick summary of the last four days. The Australian Greens have laboured the point that this bill is clearly designed to help facilitate the Barossa Gas Project and, potentially, other new fossil fuel developments in. In the case of the Barossa project, it's arguably the dirtiest fossil fuel project in our nation's history in terms of its carbon footprint.

I'll bring to senators' attention references, for example, on page 8 of this significant international report. They talk a little about the pledges by countries to explore carbon capture and storage, which is what we're doing in this bill, and to provide a regulatory framework to allow that to happen. But they say:

However, there are large uncertainties in the technical, economic, and institutional feasibility of developing and deploying novel CDR and fossil-CCS technologies at the extensive scale envisioned in these scenarios. Around 80% of pilot CCS projects over the last 30 years have failed, with annual capacity from operational projects resulting in dedicated CO2 storage currently amounting to less than 0.01 GtCO2/yr …

And they provide details of that on the following page. They continue:

There are also widespread concerns around the potential negative impacts arising from extensive land-use for conventional or novel CDR, which could affect biodiversity, food security, and the rights of Indigenous peoples and traditional land users.

Another reference comes from page 13, for those senators who would like to read this very important report:

Finally, carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies — which can be coupled to fossil fuel combustion to reduce CO2 emissions, or coupled to bioenergy or direct air capture to remove CO2 from the atmosphere — could play a role in addressing residual emissions for hard-to-transition sectors.

This is a point that Senator Pocock made a couple of days ago—the hard-to-transition sectors. Developing new fossil fuel projects is not a hard-to-transition sector. They continue:

However, they are not a free pass to carry on with business as usual. Even if all CCS facilities planned and under development worldwide become operational, only around 0.25 GtCO2 would be captured in 2030 (IEA, 2023a), less than 1% of 2022 global CO2 emissions (Liu et cetera al., 2023). The track record for CCS deployment has been poor to date, with around 80% of pilot projects ending in failure over the past 30 years (Wang et al., 2021). Counting on these largely unproven and relatively costly technologies being rolled out at scale is thus a potentially risky and dangerous strategy.

But that's what we're doing here today. That's what the Australian Senate and the Australian parliament is doing: we're facilitating a piece of legislation which is facilitating the development of new fossil fuel projects. We have very clear evidence of that from the climate minister, Mr Bowen, in his public statements.

Even more detail is provided on page 28, in section 2.4, which is entirely on carbon capture and storage. It says,

As described in the previous section, under the median 1.5°C-consistent pathway, around 2.1 GtCO2/yr of fossil fuel-combustion emissions are captured and stored by 2050.

That's the best-case scenario.

However, the track record for CCS deployment has been very poor to date, with around 80% of pilot projects over the last 30 years ending in failure (Wang et al., 2021). The annual capacity from operational CCS projects that result in dedicated CO2 storage currently sum up to less than 0.01 GtCO2/yr (IEA, 2023a). There is concern that a range of institutional, technical, and financial barriers will constrain CCS deployment (Grant et al., 2022; Lane et cetera al., 2021), and rates of CCS deployment continue to fall below expectations and remain far below those modelled …

In the existing projects around the world—and in the ocean there are only a couple of them, and they were in Norway. There are no other undersea commercial CCS projects. We have talked about their problems in recent days. They are not problem free. They have failed in many areas. Of course, we've talk about Gorgon. But here it is in the United Nations report today.

I ask senators to read it and understand that we are being asked today to back in legislation to essentially enact the London protocol for Australia. We know that the timing of this legislation and the intent is to develop new fossil fuel projects. The government certainly won't rule that out, and yesterday they wouldn't rule out providing subsidies for the development of these technologies which the UN is warning us about in this report.

It goes on to say:

Many of the scenarios modelling higher gas levels in the long-term … that do not impose sufficient constraints on CO2 storage potential and injection rates (Achakulwisut et al., 2023). If fossil-CCS fails to scale to the levels envisaged by these scenarios, reductions in fossil fuel production and use need to be even faster.

Remember that the report opens by saying that, regardless of the commitments made at Glasgow, including by countries such as Australia, the exact opposite is happening around the world. It's almost like the fossil fuel industry is fighting a rearguard action, knowing that its time is limited, and they are literally going hell for leather to lock in as many projects as possible before this climate emergency that we are seeing unfold around us finally creates penny-drop moments for governments, decision-makers and, of course, citizens around the world.

I have more detail on the Greens' amendments to go into shortly, but I understand Senator Pocock may wish to move his amendments in the spirit, perhaps, of what you have asked us to do, Minister. In particular, I would like to step through a bit more information about those Greens' amendments and why we think they're important.

Catryna Bilyk

Senator Pocock can contribute to this debate, but we've already got an amendment or two out in front of us, so that's the one we'll deal with at the moment.

Long debate text truncated.


Date and time: 1:06 PM on 2023-11-09
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 21
Total number of "no" votes: 38
Total number of abstentions: 17
Related bill: Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Amendment (Using New Technologies to Fight Climate Change) Bill 2023

Adapted from information made available by