Desmond Bellamy – Special Projects Coordinator, PETA Australia, Byron Bay
Last week, the Australian government pledged half a billion dollars for ‘clean’ energy projects, including 264 million dollars on ‘carbon capture and storage’ (CCS). This involves capturing emissions from power stations and factories, and then burying them. However, the Climate Council has stated that CCS is ‘extremely expensive and cannot deliver zero emissions.’
There are, of course, faster, simpler and cheaper ways to capture and store carbon. Firstly, plant more trees, and secondly, stop cutting down existing ones.
A recent study in Science magazine states that globally, a 25 per cent increase in forested area could store more than 200 gigatonnes of additional carbon at maturity. Such a change has the potential to store an equivalent of 25 per cent of the current atmospheric carbon pool. Sadly, we are doing the opposite – the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that about 7.3 million hectares of forest are lost every year, and roughly half of Earth’s tropical forests have already been cleared.
Australia is the worst offender at tree clearing and wiping out animals. According to the Government’s National Greenhouse Accounts, from 2010–18 almost two million hectares were cleared for grazing.
The solution is crystal clear – stop eating grazing animals and the land can be revegetated. The once-abundant koalas and 1,700 other threatened or endangered species will have their habitats restored, carbon reduction targets will be easily achieved, and cows and sheep will not face the terrifying journey to an agonising death in the slaughterhouse.