The Guardian November 1, 2000


Greenhouse gas bill a dangerous farce

Environmentalists are enraged by the Federal Government's Renewable 
Energy Bill. The bill requires retailers and wholesalers to source an extra 
two per cent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010 but 
allows the burning of woodchips from native forests and woodlands to be 
classified as a renewable or eco-friendly energy source along with solar 
and wind power.

The bill is central to Environment Minister Robert Hill's strategy for 
convincing the world that Australia is playing its part at next month's 
important COP6 Global warming conference at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Here are just two examples which show why conservationists are so alarmed:

1. Forestry Tasmania has plans for a 30 megawatt furnace in the Huon River 
Valley to burn 300,000 tonnes of woodchips per annum out of Tasmania's 
hardwood forests, the tallest in the world.

2. There are new fears that "bagasse" furnaces in Queensland, designed to 
burn sugarcane to produce electricity will, for nine months of the year 
when sugarcane is unavailable, take food from the infamous native 
vegetation clearance, now at a record rate of 500,000 hectares per annum.

Such energy sources would be classified as "renewable or eco-friendly" 
under the bill! Never mind the greenhouse gases they produce or the 
environmental destruction.

Australian Greens Senator Bob Brown pointed out that the bill is rapidly 
shaping up as an election issue.

"This bill should be celebrated as Australia's first substantial law to 
reverse global warming. Instead it is a licence by woodchippers to destroy 
forests and woodlands in the name of environmental sanctity. It is a 
deceitful bill. No wonder forest campaigners are outraged", Senator Brown 
said.

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