Federal Gov’t Falls at First Forest Hurdle

Media Release August 31, 2022

North coast conservationists are dismayed, that the Albanese Federal Government have failed to seize the opportunity to exclude wood from native forests being used as a substitute for coal and classed as ‘renewable energy’.

A Senate Committee report released this afternoon that investigated potential amendments to the Climate Change legislation, has recommended that using forest wood should be further investigated, but not taken the opportunity to rule it out at the outset.

“How much more investigation is needed” asked North Coast Environment Council Vice-President, Susie Russell.

The recent NSW parliamentary inquiry into ‘Sustainability of energy supply and resources in New South Wales’ found:

 steps must be taken to ensure [the burning of forest biomass for power generation] doesn't become a major energy source, and that it's not eligible for renewable energy credits. It's not economically or environmentally sustainable, and it generates significant carbon emissions.

“Our forests are being degraded by logging every day.

“Creating an additional bottomless market for burning trees of any size or species will see more intensive logging and more land-clearing.

“On the north coast, koalas, greater gliders and glossy black cockatoos have all moved up a rung on the extinction ladder, with many more forest dependent species currently being proposed for up-listing. We can’t have koalas and use forests to replace coal, they are mutually exclusive activities.

“Logging is pushing into areas that survived the 2019/20 firestorm. Those areas are important refuges. It’s also pushing into forests that burned and will take decades to recover. It should have been stopped after the bushfires. Instead the NSW Government gave it the green light. This is the Federal Government giving it the green tick,” Ms Russell said.

NEFA Spokesperson Dailan Pugh said “The science is clear, burning wood generates more carbon dioxide than burning coal. Pretending that it is renewable energy and has no carbon emissions is a scam that Anthony Albanese must disown, just like Julia Gillard did. It makes a mockery of the Government’s 2030 emissions reductions targets.”

“Verdant Earth Technologies have lodged a DA to Singleton Council to restart their closed Redbank coal-fired power station near Singleton by burning more than 850,000 tonnes of wood per annum, which will release over a million tonnes of CO2 per annum, with more released through the extensive logging and trucking needed to get the trees from from the forest to the furnace.

“Despite this they are claiming there will be no CO2 emissions because the federal government classes it as renewable energy.

“This is based on the pretence that the forests will regrow and recapture the emitted carbon. But a seedling will take a century to recapture the carbon lost by burning a hundred year old tree.

“In this climate emergency there is no time to waste, we need to switch to genuine renewable energy provided by solar and wind, not increase emissions by burning wood while and calling it zero emission.

“Anthony Albanese needs to stop this now before it starts” Mr. Pugh said.

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