Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has tsressed that cleaning up the coal industry is vital to cutting greenhouse emissions in talks with US President Barack Obama.


Senator Wong is in Washington for a meeting of the world\’s major economies, convened to talk about climate change and energy.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told participants the US was “ready to lead” on climate change.

In a statement, Senator Wong said the meeting concentrated on technologies which could cut greenhouse gas emissions.

“Australia outlined the importance of carbon capture and storage in reducing emissions globally – and the work of the Australian-led Global CCS Institute in driving this,” Senator Wong said.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary for Climate Change Greg Combet, who remained in Australia, defended the government\’s emissions trading scheme (ETS) in the face of criticism from business.

Woodside Energy warned the scheme would threaten the creation of thousands of jobs in the liquefied natural gas sector.

Electricity company ERM Power said the ETS would repel investment in new power stations, stopping them from being built.

Mr Combet said some of the comments from business were “a bit overblown”.

“I think some of the commentary can get a bit exaggerated,” he told AAP.

“There\’s a bit of argy-bargy going on, particularly from the resources sector, trying to ensure that they get the best level of assistance they can.”

Mr Combet said some companies would get 90 per cent of their ETS permits for free, which he said was “very substantial” assistance.