[ASC-media] Ten Year Window on Climate Change - Lord Ron Oxburgh

Cathy Reade creade at squirrel.com.au
Sun Nov 19 06:40:01 CET 2006

Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering

MEDIA RELEASE                                                

Embargoed: 20 November 2006


Ten-year Window to Put Things Right on Climate Change

Industry Has Vital Role But Needs Confidence in Government Intentions


Security of energy supply and environmental security are together at the top
of the world agenda, and industry needs confidence in Government intentions
if it is to play its vital role in a global solution, according to Lord
Ronald Oxburgh, former chair of Shell and of the House of Lords Committee on
Science and Technology.


Considered one of the world's most outspoken senior executives on the issues
of global warming and climate change, Lord Oxburgh today (20 November,
8.30am) addressed the issue of “Technology and the Energy Challenge” at New
Technology for Infrastructure - The World of Tomorrow, the annual symposium
of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, at the
Sofitel Wentworth Hotel, Sydney.


Lord Oxburgh noted that ten or so governments now control more than three
quarters of the world’s oil and gas through their national energy companies
and some are ready to use this control for geopolitical purposes. 


“We shall never run out of oil or gas but, as reserves dwindle, oil and gas
will become too expensive to use as we do today.  On both counts we have to
find alternatives,” he said in his keynote address, which followed the
opening by The Hon Malcolm Turnbull, Parliamentary Secretary with special
responsibility for water policy, who discussed Australia’s contribution to


“The evidence that emissions from fossil fuels are modifying the Earth’s
climate is overwhelming.  Unless we act fast to reduce greenhouse gas
emissions there will be damaging and irreversible environmental change and
Australia looks like being very vulnerable.  There will be costs but doing
nothing is even more expensive in the long run,” said Lord Oxburgh, who
works with a number of organisations in the general field of energy and


Lord Oxburgh predicted that governments will manage the progressive move
away from fossil fuels with a combination of market mechanisms and
fiscal/regulatory controls and incentives.  


“Industry will play a vital role but needs to be confident of government
intentions,” he said.


Lord Oxburgh explained that in spite of everything the world will depend on
fossil fuels for decades.  In the meantime, he suggests we must:

*         Improve energy efficiency 

*         Develop emission-free energy sources

*         If fossil fuel is burned, capture and immobilise the emissions


“Australia has massive resources of coal.  Developing cost-effective carbon
capture and storage for coal-fired power stations, as being done in the
Latrobe Valley, could open up a world market opportunity. This will be a
vital technology for the developing world.”


Lord Oxburgh noted Australia’s substantial uranium deposits and the
significance of nuclear energy in a climate change solution.  


“Nuclear fission is the only existing mature technology that can provide
low-emission energy relatively quickly and on a large scale.  ‘New nuclear’
stations are a world apart from the elderly plant operating round the world
today. The arguments are socio-political rather than technical,” he said.


Lord Oxburgh also addressed transport within the energy/environment
equation, indicating that transport is a major user of fossil fuels.  


“The jury is out on whether they will be replaced by hydrogen- or
electrical-drive.  The latter depends on improved batteries and the former
on new ways of producing and storing hydrogen.  In the mean time high
quality bio-fuels will be important,” he said.


“The world has entered a time of energy transition that will be like a world
war in terms of money, effort and commitment to fighting it,” he warned. 


“The need for determined action is urgent – the time window for putting
things right is ten years at most,” he concluded.


For further information or to organize interviews, contact Cathy Reade,
Media Manager, 0413 575 934 or 02 9228 9175 or em: HYPERLINK
"mailto:creade at squirrel.com.au"creade at squirrel.com.au


MEDIA NOTE: With the Federal Government’s Task Force on nuclear energy
handing down its report on Tuesday, 21 November, another speaker available
for interview is Dr Bertrand Barré, Scientific Advisor for the AREVA Group,
former President of the French Nuclear Energy Society and the European
Nuclear Societ, and Chairman of the International Nuclear Societies Council.
He was the first Chairman and still is member of the Standing Advisory Group
on Nuclear Energy which advises the Director General of the International
Atomic Energy Agency.


The ATSE wishes to thank the sponsors for this event, including Arup
Australia; Cisco; Cochlear Limited; CSIRO Energy Technology; CSIRO ICT
Centre; CSIRO Publishing; Department of Transport and Regional Services;
Leighton Holdings; Macquarie Bank; NICTA; ResMed Foundation; Transurban
Group; University of NSW - Malcolm Chaikin Foundation; University of
Newcastle; University of Newcastle – TUNRA; University of Sydney; UTS;
Victoria University


ATSE is an independent body of eminent Australian engineers and scientists
established to promote the application of scientific and engineering
knowledge to practical purposes






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