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Carbon Storage in Tasmanian Forests

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Tags: Forests, Climate Change, IPCC


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just released the most urgent and frightening scientific report in human history. It is a code red for humanity. The sixth assessment report calls for immediate rapid and large-scale reductions in emissions. The report makes clear that each tonne of carbon pumped out increases the impacts and risks of extreme heat, floods and drought, so every tonne of carbon matters for the world our children will inherit.

As you know, Tasmania's emissions profile is positive primarily because of the carbon stored in our forests across all tenures. In all other sectors of the economy our emissions are rising. Do you recognise that the single most important contribution Tasmania can make to a safe climate is to protect the estimated 4 billion tonnes of carbon stored in our forests?

Young people who took part in the Commissioner for Children and Young People's climate change consultation recognise this. Do you accept change is needed?



Mr Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Greens for that question. I want to make a couple of points on this, because one of the things that really concerns me, and I know there is a motion coming on this afternoon, is some of the extreme language that is being used. It is frightening some of our children.

I am very proud of the position we hold, in two key aspects. One is renewable energy. We generate 100 per cent of the renewable energy that we need, and we are on target for 200 per cent. If we were a country, that would put us in the top five in the world.

Regarding our emissions profile, I have learnt, as a result of engaging with the young people through that climate process and through the Premier's Youth Advisory Council, that what is not often understood by our young people is how very good we are at the moment on emissions.

In relation to the 1990 baseline, in six out of the last seven years we have been at net zero emissions. Again, if we were a country, we would be in the top five in the world in terms of emissions profile. What the Greens will not talk about is that if you look at the other sectors of our economy - and we do have some challenges, and we will work through them - if you look at key sectors like agriculture, right now, today, even after the exponential growth we have seen in agriculture since 1990, we are below the 1990 baseline for agriculture as a sector. Productivity and output has gone up and emissions have come down in agriculture.

If you look at the waste sector, we are down by more than a quarter, 26 per cent, compared to the 1990 baseline. These are things the Greens will not talk about. We should be proud of our emissions profile, of where we stand in terms of renewable energy. They should stop trying to frighten our kids. They should be educating our kids on the basis that we can lead the country -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, I personally take offence at the accusation that we are trying to frighten children. We are repeating the science. What we are trying to do is protect children.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. It was a general statement, it was not directed at any individual, and so is not a point of order.

Mr GUTWEIN - You would have to agree that we have a pretty damn good story to tell. What the Greens could do, rather than railing against projects like major wind farms, one of the things this state can do in terms of its renewable energy base, in terms of where we are heading with Marinus, where we are heading with Battery of the Nation, is to help the entire country to transition to renewables -

Ms O'Connor - The country that is buying big batteries and does not need our power.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - They could stop standing in the way of those generating more renewable energy and let us help the entire country. Tasmania could be the tail that wags the dog, quite frankly, because we are so far in front of every jurisdiction in this country.

As I said, if you look at the more than 200 countries in this world, in terms of renewable energy and emissions profile, we would be in the top five. That is what the Greens should be talking to our children about. They should be helping to educate them, make them feel proud as I am, as this side of the House is, about what we have done. The 100 years of investment in renewables, the choices that past governments have had to make, which have put us in the position where we are one of the most attractive, most progressive jurisdictions in the world -

Ms O'Connor - Have you read this? That is the kids. It is the children.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr GUTWEIN - That is the conversation that we need to have with our children. Other states and jurisdictions can learn from us. The Leader of the Greens should stop talking us down because we are in a very good position.