German mediation committee agrees carbon capture law

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 27, 2012 3:57 PM
German mediation committee agrees carbon capture law

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's parliamentary mediation committee on Wednesday approved a compromise that would allow carbon capture and storage (CCS) in Germany on a test basis, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said.

CCS is seen as a vital technology to help reduce climate-warming carbon emissions from power plants in order to achieve legally binding climate change targets, but the technology remains commercially unproven and costly to develop.

Through CCS, CO2 emissions are captured and stored underground, reducing the environmental burden of power plants.

Germany's draft law on CCS was approved by the Bundestag (lower house) last year but rejected by the Bundesrat (upper house) due to safety concerns.

Many citizen groups have protested against the idea of CCS as they fear the emissions, which are fatal in high concentrations, could leak and rise to the surface.

The mediation committee on Wednesday approved the new compromise with a close majority, meaning the law's passage through parliament is still not guaranteed.

According to the compromise, only half of the originally planned 3 million metric tons (3.3 million tons) of CO2 emissions can be captured and stored underground.

Moreover, individual states will have room for maneuver to reject approval for the capture projects.

Swedish utility Vattenfall last year scrapped plans for its CCS pilot project, citing "insufficient will in German federal politics to implement the European directive so that a CCS demonstration project in Germany could be possible".

(Reporting By Markus Wacket and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)