As the climate election heads towards the pointy end of the campaign, protesters are also heating up their activities to get their pointed message across.
More than 20 planet protectors gathered at the Condong power station near Murwillumbah on Friday to protest the burning of trees for electricity being classified as ‘renewable energy’ by the State and Federal Governments. Most had been to recent screenings of the eye-opening film Burned – Are Trees the New Coal.
NEFA spokesperson Susie Russell says that burning trees in power stations and calling it renewable, clean and green is false and misleading. ‘Burning wood in a power station produces more – about 50% more – greenhouse gases compared to that emitted by burning coal,’ said Ms Russell. ‘It not only pollutes the atmosphere, it destroys the only working method that we have to remove carbon from the atmosphere and store it – in trees.’
Ms Russell says the protesters are not advocating burning coal. ‘We want genuine renewables like wind and solar,’ she said. ‘There should be no subsidies for a polluting and inefficient industry based on a lie.
‘There is no carbon accounting for the loss of the trees through logging, land-clearing and the resultant soil disturbance, and the emissions when the wood gets burnt aren’t counted either. It’s deemed to be carbon neutral because in 50 -100 years the trees might grow back. But we don’t have that much time.
‘We need to stop polluting right now!
‘This industry has only a toehold in northern NSW so far, but we know there are plans for a major export market to send wood from our forests to Japan and South Korea to be burnt in their wood-fired power stations. As long as it’s considered carbon neutral it’s a green light for business’, she says.
Ms Russell says it’s now clear we’re in the midst of not only a climate crisis but also an extinction crisis. ‘The community wants genuine action to reduce emissions not a tricky book-keeping subterfuge that sees trees burnt for electricity, and counted as zero emissions.’
‘We want to see forests recognised and protected for their carbon storage value – along with all the other ecosystem services they provide.’
Ms Russell says the message from Friday’s action is a warning to whoever wins government next Saturday. ‘An export industry of wood from our forests destined for the power stations of Asia will be strongly resisted. Renewable energy credits for wood-fired power has to stop’.