Ending native forest logging would generate enough carbon credits to meet 45% of Australia's emissions reduction target, climate law expert claims

DUNEDIN, New Zealand , August 19, 2011 () – A recent article in the Canberra Times reports that Australia could meet almost half of its 5 per cent greenhouse reduction target by ending logging of native forests. A new economic study by Australian National University climate law expert Andrew Macintosh, estimates ending logging would generate enough carbon credits to meet 45 per cent of Australia’s emissions reduction target. In order to meet the 5 per target, Australia will need to reduce its carbon emissions by 152 million tonnes by 2020.

“It’s one of the fastest and cheapest ways for Australia to cut its emissions,” Mr Macintosh said. The ANU study is the first to calculate the potential carbon credits Australia could generate over the next eight years by reducing, or ending, native forest harvesting. It found keeping native forest harvesting at current levels would generate credits equivalent to 12million tonnes of carbon, or 14 per cent of Australia’s total abatement target.

The Australian Forest Products Association in response says that this is contrary to international science on the carbon benefits of forest management and if enacted would open Australia to the increased risk of wildfires. AFPA’s Allan Hansard referred to the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, which says that "In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit."

A robust debate on the carbon issue is necessary to achieve the desired outcome of reducing CO2 in the atmosphere, but meeting this goal is not helped by simplistic headlines said Mr Hansard.

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