The Australian government on Thursday committed to provide A$250 million ($180 million) in grants to support the development of carbon capture, use, and storage (CCUS) projects, part of a broader technology push to help cut carbon emissions.
The grants will go toward supporting the design and construction of carbon capture hubs and shared infrastructure, backing research and commercialization of carbon capture technologies, and identifying viable carbon storage sites.
Details on the spending, first announced in the government's budget in May, come as Canberra faces international pressure to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with most major nations, and deepen its pledged cuts for 2030 ahead of a UN climate summit next month.
Australia, heavily reliant on exports of coal and gas, has targeted carbon capture and storage (CCS) and hydrogen development to help cut emissions, while still allowing for the use of gas and coal.
"By supporting the development of clean hydrogen industrial hubs and clean LNG production, we are giving Australian energy exports a competitive edge in our region," Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.
The government's effort to promote CCS includes setting standards, due to be finalised shortly, for issuing carbon credits to CCS projects. Carbon credits can be sold to the government's Emissions Reduction Fund or to other companies that need carbon offsets.
Opponents see CCS as a waste of money just prolonging the use of planet-warming fossil fuels.
In a submission to the government on its proposed method for assigning carbon credits for CCS, the Australia Institute, a think tank, said the credits should not be issued to oil and gas projects as CCS only covers "a small fraction" of overall emissions from oil and gas.
"Because CCS is used to justify the continuation and expansion of the oil and gas extraction, the net result will be increased emissions," the Australia Institute said.
($1 = 1.3778 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sonali Paul; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)