Support biomass, you know it makes climate sense

19 May, 2015

Who would have thought that Labor and the Greens would turn out to be climate science deniers?

You really do have to wonder if Labor and the Greens genuinely want to reduce CO2 emissions, Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture said.

Senator Colbeck said comments from Federal Labor and Greens that they would attempt to block biomass from being included in the Renewable Energy Target (RET) showed they are clinging to last century ideology.

"The science is clear when it comes to the environmental benefits of biomass as a source of energy and is even recognised by international environmental groups such as the World Wildlife Fund," Senator Colbeck said.

"Federal Labor and the Greens need to stop basing their policy on superstition and get up-to-date with the latest science."

The environmental benefits of biomass are widely recognised, including:

  • A report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the European Biomass Industry found that replacing coal generated energy with biomass would significantly reduce carbon emissions.1
  • The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) support the use of wood-based energy and state that "The challenge for the forestry profession is to communicate the simple idea that the best way of saving a forest is to manage it sustainably and to benefit from its products and ecosystem services. If the principles of sustainable forest management are applied and forest products and ecosystems services play an increasing role, the global economy will become greener"2
  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that "In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre, or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit"3
  • Research by a compilation of scientists published in the Future Science journal found that biomass can reduce CO2 emissions by up to 96% when calculated on a life cycle basis.4

Senator Colbeck said the Coalition supports wood biomass as a source of renewable energy and recognises the benefits it could bring to the environment, the forest industry and the economy.

"The Coalition took a policy to the last federal election to re-introduce renewable energy initiatives using wood biomass - it was a key element of our forestry policy and it is a complete sham for Labor to describe this is a last minute push," Senator Colbeck said.

"Wood biomass is making use of an otherwise wasted product, such as timber offcuts, bark and branches that would otherwise be discarded. You wouldn't slaughter a cow for the prime eye fillet and leave the rest - and the same principle applies for the forest industry."

Senator Colbeck said in 2011 then Labor MP Dick Adams endorsed a Parliamentary report recommending the use of wood biomass for renewable energy - but just days later yielded to please the Greens.

"This anti-forest industry action was reflected strongly at the last federal election, when Dick Adams experienced an almost 13 per cent swing against him and lost his seat in a forestry dependent seat," he said.

"Federal Labor have shown their true colours yet again by siding with the Greens and indicating they will attempt to block biomass from inclusion in the RET. It is disappointing they aren't interested in supporting an environmentally and economically beneficial industry."

References:

  1. http://www.resilience.org/stories/2004-05-26/biomass-potential-europe
  2. http://www.fao.org/docrep/016/i3010e/i3010e00.pdf
  3. https://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg3/en/ch9s9-es.html
  4. Lippke, B, Oneil, E, Harrison, R, Skog, K, Gustavsson, L & Sathre, R 2011, 'Life cycle impacts of forest management and wood utilization on carbon mitigation: knowns and unknowns', Future Science.
190515 Support biomass, you know it makes climate sense
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