Former environment minister Greg Combet
Former environment minister Greg Combet Cathy Adams

Combet: coal seam gas key to renewable energy target

ONE of the authors of the carbon tax has declared the coal seam gas industry a vital way to reduce Australia's carbon emissions.

Former environment minister Greg Combet said the industry was a key means for Australia to achieve its renewable energy target.

Mr Combet, speaking at the Queensland Media Club, said the Federal Government's scrapping of the carbon tax was a "step back" for the introduction of carbon pricing, which he said would return.

Now working with AGL and Santos in the coal seam gas industry in NSW, Mr Combet said the industry was a vital way of reducing Australia's greenhouse footprint.

"This economy is very dependent on fossil fuels," he said.

"We depend on coal-fired energy generation in this country.

"Now if we can make a transition to gas in time we'll reduce our greenhouse gas emissions very significantly.

"That's one reason I'm a supporter of the coal seam gas industry, provided it operated in an environmentally appropriate manner."

Mr Combet described climate change policy as a "long cause" and said he was confident an emissions trading scheme would return.

"In long causes there are fights and battles, there are setbacks, and then you make more progress," he said.

"People often ask me about the repeal of the carbon pricing by the Abbott government, 'you must be depressed, defeated, down'.

"I say: 'I'm not. I've been in all these fights, there's always steps forward and steps back. And carbon pricing is one of those.'

"Now ultimately carbon pricing will be implemented in this country."

Mr Combet said he believed investing in renewable energy and green technology was a market Australia had the opportunity to dominate.

He admitted the carbon tax pricing had been "out of sync" with similar pricing schemes across the world.