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Clean coal breakthrough best news of the year

Business leaders told clean coal breakthrough best news of the year on beating climate change

The best news of the year on climate change was not agreement in Bali, but a Norwegian breakthrough with clean coal power generation technology.

The Chief Executive of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development, Peter Neilson, told business leaders in Hong Kong today the breakthrough to cost efficiently generate clean power from coal would have a massively positive impact on the world's efforts to successfully manage climate change.

Speaking to executives at a combined meeting of the Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce and New Zealand Chamber of Commerce, Hong Kong, Mr Neilson said China adds the equivalent of three new 500 megawatt coal-fired power stations each week.

"This makes a retrofit clean-coal solution at reasonable cost absolutely crucial if we are to fix climate change any time soon," he said.

The International Energy Agency estimates US$30 billion a year will be needed to pay the incremental cost to make new global energy investment low-carbon.

All the existing plants will need to replaced or modified to be lower-carbon.

"The whole world benefits from China's growth of 8% per year, but it inevitably puts pressure on the environment.

"So the best news on climate change of the past year was not that countries agreed at Bali to negotiate a Kyoto replacement treaty in 2009 for 2013 and beyond.

"It was that Sargas in Norway believe they have a process to take 95% of CO2 out of emissions from a coal fired power plant for about US$20 per tonne. A US team, Powerspan, said at about the same time they could take out 90%, but didn't put a price on it. Both are building commercial scale power plants.

"The day the Norwegian announcement was made the EUTS forward price for carbon was US$33 per tonne.

"In other words, if we had a worldwide agreement to cap emissions below business as usual we could achieve much of that of that reduction for less than the current emissions trading price," Mr Neilson said. "A low cost way of dealing with coal is one of the reasons the major emitters have failed so far to commit to Kyoto emissions reduction targets. If there is a low cost way of dealing with coal generation emissions we are much more likely to get agreement from the major emitters."

Businesses stood to make major cost savings and lift profits by getting carbon emissions down and adopting more efficient technologies.

Mr Neilson cited examples of New Zealand technology breakthroughs and case studies of companies here getting carbon down and profits up.

"Growth and quality of life are firmly linked globally," he said. "It is possible to have both and business can thrive on the challenge."


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