Stop climate change by drinking Coca-Cola says Oz government

Just take the CO2 from power stations and bottle it for the cool, clean taste of salvation

If you want to understand the quality of advice the Australian government wants in the climate change debate, you need only need one passage from page 56 of a new report into the energy sector.

Discussing carbon capture and storage, which currently has “failed technology” status nearly the whole world around, the government's Energy White Paper (PDF) says:

“If the CO2 can be captured before it is released to the atmosphere it can either be utilised in other products or permanently stored in deep geological formations. Australia has worked closely with other countries which rely heavily on fossil fuels to investigate opportunities to utilise CO2 in products such as carbonated drinks and plastics or to enhance the growth of oil-rich algae in solar bioreactors to produce biofuel.”. [Emphasis added]

That's right: in a white paper commissioned and paid for by the government and endorsed by a minister, Australia's Department of Industry suggests that CO2 be kept out of the atmosphere by … capturing it, stuffing it in cans of Coca-Cola, and releasing it to the atmosphere when the drink is opened.

Even if Coca-Cola Carbon CaptureTM sequestered CO2 (which it does not, what idiot thinks it does?), there's the matter of scale.

According to the Department of the Environment, electricity contributed 180 million tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere in 2014.

Getting a handle on soft drinks is difficult, but the Australian Bureau of Statistics gives us some handy 2011-2012 consumption data here.

The average daily consumption of soft drinks is 385 ml among the 29 per cent of population – 6,896,780 of us – that consume soft drinks, working out at around 944 million litres a year nationally. Various sources give the CO2 content at around 2.2 grams per can, or just over 2,000 tonnes of emissions per year.

In other words, if Australia's electricity sector implemented carbon capture and storage tomorrow – which it won't, nor will it in the next 20 years – it would fill the entire output of a year's worth of soft drinks in its first six minutes.

The sentence after the one we've quoted above also gives the game away a bit, by saying that "While these [CO2 capture] processes are promising, there is no commercial CO2 re-use in Australia, largely reflecting the high cost of capturing the CO2 from a flue gas stream." ®

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