Protecting Australia’s climate and forests from biomass burning
"The Hon. Anthony Albanese,
Prime Minister of Australia
Dear Prime Minister,
I’m writing to you today to express concern at the emerging ‘biomass burning’ industry. This industry would involve large-scale logging and woodchipping of Australia’s native forests to generate domestic energy supply for Australian households and businesses.
You stated in Parliament in 2015, in relation to biomass burning: "Native wood waste is neither clean nor renewable. [The Abbott government] … makes it sound like it would just be the little offcuts which would be burnt, but the fact is that nothing is further from the truth. The definition of native wood waste under their proposal is the whole of any tree that is harvested and not ultimately saw-logged … you can still burn the whole tree.”
I’m deeply worried at the impact of this industry if it is allowed to take hold, for two important reasons:
Biodiversity. Australia’s forests are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world, and yet have been extensively damaged by logging and fire. Woodchipping introduced clear fell logging and damaged habitat for wildlife only found in old trees. An intensive new logging industry would have a devastating impact on our vulnerable forest biodiversity - including dozens of endangered species like the yellow-bellied glider, powerful owl, and koala.
Climate change. Our forests are a massive store of carbon, all of which has come from the Earth’s atmosphere. According to scientists, logging these forests will make climate change significantly worse by releasing much of this carbon back into the atmosphere as a greenhouse gas. In fact, per unit of energy generated, biomass burning from native forests emits more greenhouse gas than coal. It doesn’t make sense to claim that logging any forest older than 30 years can recover lost carbon by 2050.
Under an amendment to Federal Government regulations made by the Abbott government, energy from this source is classified as clean and renewable energy - counting as zero emissions when burned. This classification does not pass even the most basic common sense test. Harming our biodiversity and making climate change worse is the opposite to what clean, renewable energy - like wind and solar - is meant to be.
Right now, you have the ability to reverse the damage done by Tony Abbott by simply restoring the Gillard government’s regulation that excluded native forest biomass as a source of renewable energy. By doing so you will stop this industry taking hold and keep open the far better option of protecting and restoring our most important terrestrial carbon storage system.
I’m asking you as a matter of urgency to:
- Reinstate the Gillard government regulation that excluded native forest biomass from the definition of renewable energy under the Renewable Energy Act;
- Remove all ‘native forest waste’ as eligible wood waste for use by accredited power stations applying for Large Scale Generation Certificates.
- Ensure any and all ERF methods which allow the substitution of coal with wood are amended to prevent the use of any native forest biomass
- Make it clear to the Australian public that you do not support logging and woodchipping of Australia’s forests for energy production, and that our forests should be protected for their biodiversity and climate protection values.
Please protect Australia’s unique and important forests, forest biodiversity, and climate by stopping this senseless industry from gaining a stronghold in Australia.