Friday, 26 October 2018


In a Media Release dated October 22 the North Coast Environment Council (NCEC) has condemned the NSW Government for its plan to burn forest biomass to produce electricity.  The NCEC media is printed below: 

Ten north coast environment groups are signatories to a global position statement against wood-fired power stations released today. More than 120 groups internationally have signed on.

The statement begins: We share a vision of a world in which thriving natural forests play a significant role in tackling climate change and contribute to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth. Burning forest wood for large-scale energy production cannot be part of that future for all of the reasons outlined below. Instead we must protect and restore natural forests, thereby reducing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide while supporting biodiversity, resilience and well-being.

The reasons elaborated are that it: harms the climate, harms forests, harms people and harms the clean energy transition. See the statement for detail.

“The same people who have been pushing coal are now also promoting wood-fired power stations. It does nothing to solve the urgent need to lessen global greenhouse emissions, quite the opposite,” said NCEC Vice-President Susie Russell

“All around the world communities are fighting to keep their forests and to protect them from what has become a voracious monster with a bottomless appetite. Signatories include environment groups from China and Indonesia, as well as groups across the American, European and African continents.

“This monster reared it's head here with the release last year of a report from the NSW Government Department of Primary Industries (DPI) saying there was enough wood, that if burnt, to power 200,000 north coast homes. That's one million tonnes of wood per year. It would involve tens of thousands of truck trips and cause irreparable damage to our region's precious forests,” Ms Russell said.

“The crazy thing about burning wood to generate electricity is that it actually produces more greenhouse gases and pollution than burning coal. But because of flaws in the international greenhouse gas accounting rules, burning biomass, including wood, is classed as a renewable energy. They make no distinction between burning annual crop wastes and burning 20-30 year old trees.

“The NSW Government is pushing it because it's trying to create a market for all the small trees that will be removed from the forests when its broadscale clearfelling comes legally into force. That was clear from the DPI report,” she said.

The statement concludes: We, the undersigned organisations, believe that we must move beyond burning forest biomass to effectively address climate change. We call on governments, financiers, companies and civil society to avoid expansion of the forest biomass based energy industry and move away from its use. Subsidies for forest biomass energy must be eliminated. Protecting and restoring the world’s forests is a climate change solution, burning them is not.

“The NSW Government ignores this message at its peril. As we saw in Wentworth on Saturday, people want genuine action on climate change,” Ms Russell said.

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Note:  "Wentworth" in the last paragraph refers to the federal byelection in the Sydney seat of Wentworth which was held on October 20 following the resignation from the federal parliament of former Liberal Party Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.  A substantial swing against the Government means that the seat is likely to be won by an independent, Dr Kerryn Phelps.  The result will not be finalist until all postal votes are counted in approximately another week.