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Waikato professor to write carbon capture and storage law

15 November 2012

Waikato professor to write carbon capture and storage law

A Waikato University professor is helping reform the law for the future of carbon capture and storage in New Zealand.

Director of the University of Waikato Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law (CEREL), Professor Barry Barton is working with government and industry insiders to develop a legal and regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS).

He’s been awarded a $245,000 grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and will be working with CEREL and international carbon capture experts from Australia, Canada, the United States, the European Union and Norway to draft the framework.

At present, New Zealand law does not provide for carbon capture and storage.

Carbon capture and storage uses existing technology to separate the carbon dioxide from emissions at sources such as power stations burning coal or natural gas, or from industrial sources, and then it’s injected into geological formations such as depleted gas reservoirs, or deep saline aquifers.

“Basically this law is about climate change,” says Professor Barton. “CCS is a method of reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. In New Zealand, CCS is unlikely ever to play a major role in reducing emissions; but climate change is a huge problem, and we need every possible tool at our disposal.”

He describes the research as ensuring that CCS can be considered.

“Most people will agree that there should be a legal framework that allows CCS to be evaluated as an option, rather than ruled out right from the start.”

Other countries that have moved ahead with CCS laws (Australia, Canada, and some European countries) will be examined as part of the programme. International experts will contribute their insights, not only of CCS laws but also of commercial expectations in internationally-oriented industries.

The research involves a close study of liability and risk management, and of integration with existing laws like the Resource Management Act.

“It’s a good opportunity to make University of Waikato expertise available as part of the policy-making and law reform processes,” says Professor Barton.

“We have good connections in the international energy law community, and in law reform agencies, and we are looking forward to using them and carrying out research that will help the country address an important problem.”

The recommendations for the law will be delivered in June next year.

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