Germany agrees draft carbon storage law

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The underground storage of carbon dioxide emissions could be a reality in Germany from 2017, after Berlin agreed a draft law Wednesday to regulate the carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.

Under the legislation presented by the environment and economy ministries in Berlin, test sites will first be established, before the government decides in 2017 whether CCS should be used as a long-term environmental solution.

The experimental and controversial technology aims to snare CO2 as it is pumped out from fossil-fuel burning plants, liquefy it and bury it underground, usually in disused natural gas storage chambers.

CCS supporters say the sequestered carbon would slow the pace of man-made climate change.

But critics say CCS could be dangerous if the stored gas returns to the atmosphere. They also argue that its financial cost, still unknown, could be far greater than tackling the source of the problem itself.

Rich countries have already earmarked tens of billions of dollars of investment in CCS.

The German Energy and Water Association hailed the deal, with its chairman Hildegard Mueller saying: "Now concrete CCS projects can soon be implemented."

On the other side of the argument, Wolfgang Neskovic, from the far-left Linke party, said the technology contained "incalculable risks."

The draft law will now be considered by Germany's cabinet and must win parliamentary approval.

© 2010 AFP

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