Originally published in The Australian on December 20, 2012

The Climate Change Authority’s final report on the renewable energy target, which was released yesterday, contains a number of controversial conclusions and recommendations. A standout amongst these is the recommendation that the federal government explore whether making native forest wood waste eligible to participate in the large-scale RET (LRET) would increase the rate of harvesting in native forests and, if not, to reinstate it ‘subject to appropriate accreditation processes designed to ensure that no additional logging occurs as a result’. This finding is based on the Authority’s view that: “If a forest would have been logged in any event, then burning the wood waste in a power station is a better environmental outcome – in greenhouse gas emission terms – than burning the waste alone or allowing it to decompose.” At a distance, this appears to be a statement of the patently obvious. Surely, if wood waste from harvesting is used to generate electricity, it will displace fossil fuel-based generation and thereby reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Although logically appealing, this is incorrect.

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