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Native forests reprieve as Oakeshott defeated

Media Release
Christine Milne 19 Mar 2012

Parliament today rejected Rob Oakeshott's motion to disallow regulations on renewable energy that form a key part of the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee's agreement from last July.

The regulations, which Mr Oakeshott sought to disallow but which are now law, ensure that native forest furnaces cannot be counted as producing renewable energy - a major win for the climate and for protection of forests and wildlife habitat.

"Tightening the definition of renewable energy to make sure that burning our native forests can't be counted towards our renewable energy target is a big win for the climate, for our forests, for koalas and other native wildlife which depend on the forests, and for the 80% of Australians who support this move," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

"Mr Oakeshott's suggestion that keeping forest furnaces out of the renewable energy target somehow benefits coal shows how fundamentally he has misunderstood this issue. Being a question of definitions under the renewable energy target, forest furnaces would compete with solar and wind power and better forms of bioenergy, not coal at all.

"With the collapse of the native forest export woodchip industry globally, there is no market and no reason to continue logging native forests. But rather than accept the opportunity for a win win outcome of protecting native forests and appropriate manufacturing of plantation timber, the native forest loggers want a reason to continue destroying our precious biodiversity.

"Plans for forest furnaces, which would burn pelletized native forests to create electricity, are well advanced at the Eden woodchip mill in NSW and at several sites in Tasmania and also in WA.

"80% of Australians want our remaining native forests and their wildlife protected, not fed into furnaces and sold to the public as renewable energy.

"Mr Oakeshott's motion was condemned by many leading scientists and defended mostly by native forest loggers and their mates in the Liberal and National parties.

"The Gillard government and Tony Windsor must be congratulated for maintaining the integrity of the clean energy package negotiated in good faith by the Multi-Party Climate Committee.

"This is a win for forest campaigners and the climate action groups around the country who understand far better than Rob Oakeshott the critical role forests play in protecting our climate."

Greens MP Adam Bandt voted against the disallowance in the House of Representatives today.

"Forest furnaces are not renewable energy and they don't help with climate change," Mr Bandt said.

"Removing forest burning from the definition of renewable energy was an important part of the agreement for a price on pollution and a big step towards protecting native forests."

"I was very disappointed that Rob Oakeshott chose to go back on the clean energy deal but I am glad the Parliament got behind protecting native forests and rejected his motion."

 

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