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12 May 2015 - Native forests must not be burnt for the RET!      

Native forests must not be burnt for the RET!

12 May 2015


Humane Society International (HSI) is calling on all non-Coalition Senators to amend the Government’s legislation to set the new RET (Renewable Energy Target) to prevent a dangerously perverse situation arising if native forest wood was allowed to be burnt in the name of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The Abbott Government is proposing to include the burning of biomass from wood harvested from native forests in the list of eligible renewable energy sources for meeting its much-reduced RET recently agreed with the ALP.

Burning biomass from plantations, or any other agricultural crop, is mostly harmless,” said HSI spokesperson, Alistair Graham, “first you remove carbon from the atmosphere by growing the crop and then you put the carbon back again by burning it making it more or less carbon neutral.”

When you cut down a native forest and burn it, however, it is far from carbon neutral.   Wet eucalypt forests of south-east Australia are among some of the world’s largest carbon stores, developed and maintained over millennia by natural processes.  When these are logged and burnt, large amounts of carbon dioxide are released to the atmosphere.  Over future decades, some of these emissions can be offset by future regrowth – but it takes centuries before the initial spike in emissions can be offset by growing trees back.”

Even more frustrating is the thermodynamic reality that burning wood to generate electricity is inherently less efficient than burning fossil fuels – you get less energy per tonne of wood burnt than you do from burning coal, oil or gas,” Mr Graham concluded.  “So burning wood from native forests is doubly perverse.”


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