The NEC President’s July Update

Environment Centre News July 2023

By Scott Sledge, President

Trees and climate friendly action. Time to reconsider where we all stand on fossil fuel emissions and what can be done to rein in global climate change. United Nations President Antonio Guterres says: “We are hurtling towards disaster, eyes wide open. Its time to wake up and step up.”

Mr. Guterres was speaking to journalists at UN Headquarters following a meeting with civil society climate leaders from across the world. He said limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible but will require a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. However, current policies will lead to a 2.8°C temperature rise by the end of the century, which “spells catastrophe”. He called for immediate global action toward net-zero emissions, which “must start with the polluted heart of the climate crisis: the fossil fuel industry.” He further declared that countries must progressively phase out fossil fuels, “moving to leave oil, coal and gas in the ground where they belong” and massively boost investment in renewable energy.

Acceleration Agenda calls on governments to phase out coal by 2040, end public and private international coal funding, and shift subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables, among other measures. “But the fossil fuel industry and its enablers have a special responsibility,” said Guterres, noting the record “$4 trillion windfall” in income last year.

“Yet for every dollar it spends on oil and gas drilling and exploration, only four cents went to clean energy and carbon capture combined. Trading the future for 30 pieces of silver is immoral,” he said. Plans must also establish clear, near-term targets towards the transition to ‘green’ energy.’

Australia, though, is one of the world’s largest miners of coal and gas and has only a modest commitment to limiting emissions. Recently the federal government has approved new gas and coal extraction and has given some undertakings to promote renewables, but not very convincingly.

Saving Forests: When it comes to positive action, environmentalists around the country have called for an end to native forests logging, which would have the additional advantage of preserving many endangered plants and animals, as well as ensuring some abatement of carbon emissions. Trees are the cheapest and most reliable means of carbon capture and storage. We have heard pandering politicians telling lies in public. One is that we need to log native forests to provide timber for much-needed home building. Yet Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told Parliament this week that 90% of wood used in our construction industry already comes from plantations. We can easily grow what is needed without destroying wildlife habitat. If the PM was wrong, he would be in serious trouble for lying to Parliament. Lobbyists for the Forest Products Assoc like to say that if we stop logging native forests Australia will have to “import” timber from countries that “lack our serious conservation standards.” This is a most egregious fairy tale. Maybe these ningnongs need to learn that Australia tops the list for species extinction. Yes, we are Number 1, but not for conservation: just the opposite. And it continues! Even our iconic species like koalas and glossy black cockatoos are threatened with extinction. We were promised a Great Koala National Park by the incoming NSW government, but even this has not been enacted. Rather it seems the government-owned Forestry Corp has been given permission to rip through any likely habitat before we declare it “protected.”  Instead of “world’s best practice” we see incredible disrespect even for the rules they agree to follow.

If you doubt that, all you need do is visit one of the areas where logging has been progressing. Trees and bushes are bulldozed to clear the land if they are not taken away for milling—or worse, for chipping. Do you want chips with that?  No thanks, leave the forests alone. Stop subsidising their destruction. Logging in NSW does not make a profit: taxpayers pay in an average of $15M per year.  NEFA has evidence that funds intended to repair roads damaged by recent floods have been allocated to logging tracks. Last month a group from Fridays4Forests went to Braemar SF south of Casino, site of massive amounts of grading and gravelling to facilitate trucks carrying off the timber. This is our disaster relief money at work! I wonder how many of us would rather see repairs to public roads? In the Nimbin area we have many roads controlled by stop lights due to flood damage that occurred 16 months ago! Yet we are often prohibited from entering the areas closed “by authority of Forestry Corp”.

In March some of us went to witness what trees were being taken at Doubleduke SF near Evans Head after the EPA halted logging due to loggers’ failure to protect old-growth trees. Seven police cars blocked our way on Glencoe Road. Forestry Corp may not want the public to see what they are doing. Those who walked into the public forest there were arrested and fined for their interest. The real criminals were protected from scrutiny while we were moved on “for our own safety” although the logging was so far away we couldn’t even hear the machines or the trees crashing. Another lie to cover a dirty business.  Not far away a resident photographed a pile of trees and stumps bulldozed into a pile including one with a clear “H” (for Habitat) painted on it indicating it had been marked to leave standing because animals lived in it. No longer!

If you want to help, please write or phone your parliamentarians, contact the media, come to a demonstration. One will take place at 0900 outside Casino Court on July 20th for a Nimbin volunteer who stepped into the Doubleduke forest on March 16th.

A stall at Murwillumbah’s World Environment Day on Sunday 16th July will be staffed by volunteers from NEC and Northern Rivers Guardians, with maybe a few from Kyogle Environment Group. Stop in to chat and maybe buy tickets for the raffle which will be drawn at the end that day. There is something planned by the Caldera Environment Centre to interest everyone: speakers, entertainment, arts and craft and a display of electric vehicles.

We are facing a global climate crisis of existential proportions. If we want to leave a livable world for our children and grandchildren we have to support political action now and shout down the lies told for the blatant advantage of special interests.