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Report lays foundation for new law

3 December, 2013

Report lays foundation for new law

A report being launched in Wellington on Thursday, 5 December, lays the foundations for new laws around the storage of carbon dioxide as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon Capture and Storage: Designing the Legal Framework has been written by University of Waikato law professor Barry Barton - who is the director of the University’s Centre for Environmental, Resources and Energy Law (CEREL) - and researchers Kimberley Jordan and Greg Severinsen.

Professor Barton in 2012 received a $245,000 grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) to design a legal and regulatory framework for carbon capture and storage (CCS) in New Zealand.

He worked with a team including an advisory group, government and industry insiders and international carbon capture experts from Australia, Canada, the United States, the European Union and Norway to draft the framework.

New Zealand law currently does not provide for carbon capture and storage, which involves using existing technology to separate carbon dioxide from emissions at sources such as coal burning or natural gas power stations or other industrial sources. The carbon dioxide is then 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.”

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While climate change was not a high priority in political circles, that will change in time, he says.

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

“It took us through parts of legislation we had not expected,” he says.

“It was challenging but rewarding and I hope it feeds into policy and law making.”

Professor Barton says it was a good opportunity to make University of Waikato expertise available as part of the policy-making and law reform processes.

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