The burning of native forest biomass should be completely removed from Australia’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) after the Australian government last year controversially legislated to include it.
Markets For Change has been surveying the policy position of all candidates for the Federal election on this issue and all responses are being posted on our website. We also have enabled our supporters to email candidates themselves.
“The continued inclusion of native forest biomass in the Renewable Energy Target would entrench industrial logging and export woodchip style destruction in the magnificent native forests of Australia as export woodchipping retracts, and could increase logging pressure. It is likely to also displace genuinely clean sources of renewable energy such as solar and wind power from receiving the benefits of Renewable Energy Credits,” said Markets For Change CEO Ms Peg Putt.
“The fact is that burning native forests for energy is highly emissive of greenhouse gases – more so per unit of energy generated than is burning coal. Logging advocates claim that this is irrelevant because eventually that carbon is recaptured by growing forest, but that ignores that the time for such recovery is measured in many decades or even centuries. We have much less time to substantially decrease our emissions if we are to turn climate change around with strong emission reduction targets for 2020 and 2030.”
“Instead our forests could be allowed to grow in peace and yet earn substantial money from credits for carbon storage,” Ms Putt said.
What the Parties did last year:
The Liberal-National Coalition government introduced the change that included native forest biomass in the RET. The Greens opposed it. Labor opposed the original amendment that inserted the change, but then went on to vote in favour of the final legislation that included native forest combustion in the RET.
Senate cross benchers agreed to the inclusion of burning native forests, including Nick Xenephon. The exception was Senator Lazarus.
Labor avoiding stating its position?
Labor’s climate policy is silent on removing native forest biomass from the RET, although they have been explicitly asked to state it. Yet Labor in government excluded native forest bioenergy from the RET and explained the policy thus: “Wood waste from native forests was removed from the RET as an eligible renewable energy source in 2011. This amendment was made to ensure that the RET did not provide an incentive for the burning of native forest wood waste for bio-energy, which could lead to unintended outcomes for biodiversity and the destruction of intact carbon stores.”
 Published response of the Australian government to the Climate Change Authority’s Renewable Energy Target (RET) Review, March 2013