Push forestry credentials, Labor urged ELECTION 2007


Philip Hopkins, Agribusiness Reporter   


IF LABOR is elected and ratifies the Kyoto Protocol, it should push forestry's credentials to fight global warming, trade consultant Alan Oxley has urged.


Mr Oxley said that in ratifying Kyoto, Labor should withhold acceptance of the rules for offsets for forestry and land clearing.

These rules "do not recognise the continuing stored value of embedded carbon in timber and paper products," he said.


Mr Oxley, addressing a VicForests conference in Melbourne, said such action was legitimate.


"The good news on climate change for forestry . . . is that it is an industry which will have to expand if strategies to mitigate global warming are to be successful," he said.

"As Patrick Moore, the founder of Greenpeace, has declared - 'the easiest way to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is to increase forests and increase the harvesting of them'."


Mr Oxley said forestry and land clearing were formally recognised as offsets to meet emission targets under Kyoto Protocol rules.

But he said there was little likelihood of a global emissions trading scheme soon.


"It will be at least five years before the shape of a replacement for Kyoto is known," he said. "Global, common, binding caps are not likely to be agreed. Without that, a global emission trading system cannot be established."

Mr Oxley said it was likely that the World Bank, the European Union, Australia and possibly some other countries would look at how credits might be traded among national schemes.


"The rules countries set on how carbon offsets are recognised in forestry will be influenced by those rules," he said.


"At the moment, they are deficient. They do not recognise that carbon remains stored in finished timber products or for that matter, paper.

Trees cut are currently regarded as diminishing the capacity to sink."

Mr Oxley said technical knowledge of the carbon cycle was also poor.


"The capacity of the soil to act as a carbon sink is not factored into assessments of the forest sinks," he said. "The carbon cycle for forestry has to be properly assessed and measured."


Mr Oxley said the Victorian Government should also push for a vibrant, expanding and economically productive forest industry to tackle climate change.