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Santos today proposed a Low Emissions Target as a policy platform for South Australia and as an example of how substantial inroads could be made in cutting carbon emission from power generation.

Speaking to an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce function in Adelaide, Santos Chief Executive Officer David Knox called on South Australia to adopt a “Low Emission” target – by aiming for average emissions from power generation of no more than 0.4 tonnes of CO2 per megawatt hour by 2020, roughly half South Australia‘s current emissions intensity of 0.8.

Such an emission rate can be achieved by further building the partnership between gas and renewable energy, which would consolidate South Australia’s status as having the cleanest electricity production on the Australian mainland.

“Low-carbon natural gas offers an immediate and proven way to transform baseload power generation away from high-carbon coal,” Mr Knox said.

Mr Knox said a Low Emissions Target would reinforce the already very strong commitment of SA Premier Mike Rann to climate change leadership, including the State’s 33% renewable energy target.

Power generation accounts for over 30% of Australia’s total carbon emissions and over 80% of Australia’s power comes from baseload coal.

South Australia already generates just over half of its power from natural gas, with the rest of the fossil fuel power generation coming brown coal. Despite only providing 34% of South Australia’s power, nearly half of South Australia’s power emissions come from coal.

Mr Knox said the cost of replacing SA’s ageing coal-fired power stations with new gas-fired generation, assuming a modest carbon price, would be less than building new generation coal power stations, and that with our abundant gas supply there is more than enough gas to fuel a Low Emission South Australia.

“Indeed, with eastern Australia’s large resource base, equivalent to several hundred years of current natural gas use, I would argue that there is enough gas to fuel a Low Emission Australia,” he said.