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CO2 categorised as industrial waste in London Convention; likely to restrict disposal in sea-bed, says AGO report

Posted by gasweek on 17 October, 2007

On one view CCS (carbon dumps) may be viewed as contravening the spirit of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) – conversely, the FCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) might be used to support the argument that prevention of release of gaseous carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere by CCS was consistent with UNCLOS, according to “A Report to the Australian Greenhouse Office on Property Rights and Associated Liability Issues, 2005” (8/8/2007, p.113).

CO2 ‘industrial waste’: ” … when the 1996 Protocol enters into force, it will supersede the London Convention as between parties to the 1996 Protocol which are also parties to the London Convention. However, Australia will continue to be bound by the London Convention in relation to nation-states that do not fall into this category. Accordingly, the application of both the London Convention and the 1996 Protocol to CCS is considered below. With respect to the London Convention, some commentators have suggested that carbon dioxide would likely be categorised as industrial waste, which is defined in the Convention as ‘waste materials generated by manufacturing or processing operations’ (Annex 1).

Restricting disposal: “If this is the case, the London Convention is likely to restrict the opportunities for the ‘disposal’ of carbon dioxide under the seabed. However, such views are not definitive, and it remains unclear whether carbon dioxide would be considered a waste for the purposes of the Convention. In addition, as previously mentioned, it is unclear whether the London Convention covers sub-seabed disposal of wastes (this is not an issue under the 1996 Protocol). In contrast, the 1996 Protocol does not contain the prohibition on ‘industrial waste’. Nevertheless, the reverse-list of allowable materials, which is essentially identical to the list contained in the London Convention, would likely mean that the same restrictions would apply when addressing the Protocol,” the report added.

Reference: Carbon Capture and Storage Section 6 – “A Report to the Australian Greenhouse Office on Property Rights and Associated Liability Issues, 2005”, p.113.

Contact: The Communications Director, Australian Greenhouse Office, Department of the Environment and Heritage, GPO Box 787, Canberra ACT 2601. Email: communications@greenhouse.gov.au

http://www.greenhouse.gov.au/publications

Erisk Net, 8/8/2006

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