Federal Government must reject burning native forest wood as “renewable” energy

1 September  2022


South coast conservationists are dismayed that the new Labor Government has failed to exclude the use of native forest wood as a substitute for coal and classed as “renewable energy”.


A Senate Committee investigating potential amendments to the Climate Change legislation released its report this afternoon.

In spite of strong evidence presented to the committee against the inclusion of native forest biomass “waste” as an eligible renewable fuel, it has not ruled it out and has recommended that it be further investigated.


“This does not need further investigation. We already know that it generates more carbon dioxide than coal” said South East Region Conservation Alliance (SERCA) spokesperson, Harriett Swift. 


Even a 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.


"Pretending that burning wood is renewable energy and has no carbon emissions makes a mockery of the Government’s 2030 emissions reductions targets.


“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 south 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 save our wildlife and use forests to replace coal; they are mutually exclusive activities.


“In the Black Summer bushfires, 80% of South Coast forests available for logging were burnt, but logging for low value, export woodchips has continued.” Ms Swift said.


“The Eden chipmill has already tried to build a wood fired power station, but fortunately failed to proceed with it.


“The claim that burning wood is renewable 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 pretending the emissions don’t exist”