Land-clearing surge in Queensland set to wipe out Direct Action gains – report

In just three years the rate of clearing will create enough additional carbon dioxide emissions to cancel out emissions savings the government says it will make by paying farmers $670m to stop cutting down trees.

A land-clearing surge in Queensland is set to create additional carbon dioxide emissions in just three years that are equivalent to those the federal government claims it is avoiding by paying other farmers more than $670m to stop cutting down trees, according to a new analysis.
The Queensland land clearing along with weakening land clearing laws in several other states are threatening Australia’s chances of meeting the climate change targets it pledged in Paris last year and raising questions about the Coalition’s Direct Action climate policy.

The Queensland land clearing along with weakening land clearing laws in several other states are threatening Australia’s chances of meeting the climate change targets it pledged in Paris last year and raising questions about the Coalition’s Direct Action climate policy.
A new study of Australian tree-clearing by environmental services company CO2 Australia – obtained by Guardian Australia – has quantified the recent blow-out in greenhouse emissions from the weakened laws, after a decade in which declining tree clearing played a key role in Australia meeting its climate change commitments.
The Queensland Labor government wants to repeal laws passed by Campbell Newman’s government that led to the sudden rise in tree clearing, but may not succeed in doing so and is facing fierce resistance from the Liberal National party and others.
Land clearing in Queensland, along with weakening land clearing laws in several other states, is threatening Australia’s chances of meeting the climate change targets it pledged in Paris last year.
Tentative moves by federal environment minister Greg Hunt’s department to assess whether the clearing contravenes federal laws have also prompted a backlash – particularly from his own National party colleagues.
But the CO2 study, commissioned by the Wilderness Society, shows the turnaround in clearing threatens to wipe out emission reductions bought by the Turnbull Government’s Direct Action scheme and jeopardise Australia’s chances of meeting its promise to reduce greenhouse emissions by 26-28% by 2030.
The study quantifies the impact on emissions of the discrepancy between the federal government’s data on Queensland land clearing and state government data, as well as the absence of accurate national data to predict land clearing emissions as NSW and Western Australia also move to relax their rules.
Part of the blow-out in emissions from land use and tree clearing was quietly acknowledged in the federal government’s latest report on Australia’s greenhouse emissions, released a few days before Christmas, which projected that emissions from land clearing would rise 24% from 2013 levels, from an average 37m tonnes to an average 46m tonnes a year up to 2020 and 44m tonnes a year between 2020 and 2030.
In 2013-14, 300,000 hectares were cleared in Queensland alone, double the rate in 2011-12. Between 2012 and 2015 land clearing emissions in Australia rose 11 times faster than any other sector.

Press link for more: The Guardian

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