Do we need to burn forests to save the environment

by Richard Denniss

The Renewable Energy Target (RET) requires electricity retailers to purchase a specified amount of renewable energy (the target) from certified generators of renewable energy.

At present burning native woodchips or other biomass, is not a certified form of renewable energy under the RET. Including biomass burning in the RET will cause a number of direct and indirect problems, including displacement of solar and wind in the RET cap, reducing investment in those technologies, and environmental harm caused by continued logging of native forests – a practice already highly subsidised. 

A simple solution to this problem is available. In negotiating a new RET, the government and the opposition should simply agree to enshrine the definition of renewable energy in the legislation and, in doing so, continue the existing definition which excludes electricity from native biomass.

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