Strategies in Action
Tasmanian NMBI talking points
Tasmania is in the enviable position of being able to ban new fossil fuel projects easier than the states that have strong coal and gas lobbies. Will Tasmania be the first jurisdiction to ban new climate-damaging projects? It would set a wonderful climate-ethical example for other jurisdictions to follow. The talking points below delve into some of the implications of banning new climate-damaging projects in Tasmania.
These talking points may be helpful when you are encouraging Tasmanian state MPs to support adoption of the No More Bad Investments (NMBI) model legislation (can be downloaded here). These talking points assume that the person you are talking with accepts that at least some action is necessary to tackle the climate emergency.
Note: This page has not been updated in a while so a few details might have changed in the last few years, but the key points remain valid.
1. The state government can control the types of projects it approves within Tasmania regardless of federal policies. By banning new climate-damaging projects Tasmania would be demonstrating climate-related ‘duty of care’, making it easier for other states and territories to do the same.more...
Climate impacts are already killing people and destroying ecosystems, so any government that allows new projects that increase carbon emissions is failing in its duty of care to its citizens.
Federal climate-related policies are far from adequate. However, if enough states and territories enact No More Bad Investments (NMBI) legislation as a first step in taking climate emergency action it will normalise the practice of governments passing legislation based on climate ethics and restoration of a safe climate.
2. Banning new climate-damaging projects before they start is relatively easy compared with phasing out existing sources of carbon emissions.more...
While equally necessary, closing down existing climate-damaging activities and supply chains would be much harder and involve transition programs for affected workers. For example, it would be easier to rule out new native forest logging permits than it would be to retract existing permits. Tasmania could easily ban new fossil fuel extraction since there is already a moratorium on new gas extraction and coal is not used for electricity generation, but it will require time and careful planning to phase out existing fossil fuel usage, particularly for transport.
Adopting NMBI legislation is a logical and significant first step in taking climate emergency action even though much more is required.
3. Tasmania doesn’t need any new fossil fuel infrastructure to ‘keep the lights on’ or to keep us warm.more...
Renewable energy generation in Tasmania is already often at 100%, and only a bit more renewable electricity capacity is required in order to guarantee electricity supply. Extra solar, wind, and run-of-river hydro capacity, plus strategic use of hydroelectricity as a virtual battery, would mean Tasmania would not need to use the Tamar Valley gas-fired power plant or electricity from the mainland via the basslink cable.
Reticulation of gas to households is relatively recent in Tasmania, and gas is not yet available in many areas. TasGas has plans to extend the gas reticulation network to more towns and suburbs, but why invest in any new carbon-intensive infrastructure? Even now, much of the time, all-electric premises are using 100% renewable energy.
Continuing to allow or encourage the sale of new gas appliances will lock in gas usage for many years. Since Tasmania is doing so well with renewable energy generation, it is a retrograde step and a waste of resources to lock in any unnecessary and climate-damaging future gas usage.
4. It will give market certainty to assist the rapid roll-out of climate-safe alternatives if new climate-damaging projects are banned in spheres where climate-safe alternatives already exist, and timelines for future bans are set in other cases.more...
Investment in new renewable energy generation will flow in if new fossil fuel infrastructure is banned. Electric vehicles and charging stations will expand if a timeline is set for banning new fossil fuelled vehicles.
When stringent new lighting efficiency standards were adopted, in effect banning sale of incandescent lamps, they were quickly replaced by a range of compact fluorescent lamps. This soon led to the development of even more efficient LED lamps. This transition was accomplished with minimal disruption and very little opposition from the general public simply because better alternatives quickly became available as a result of the tighter efficiency standards.
5. Tasmania is (or is likely to be) the first state in Australia to achieve net zero carbon emissions. Continuing to allow new climate-damaging projects is a bit like frantically trying to bail water out quickly enough to stop a boat sinking without doing anything to stop a person at the other end of the boat who is merrily tipping more water in.more...
In practice, climate impacts are already threatening lives and our well-being, so a more realistic target would be to reach net zero emissions absolutely as quickly as possible and to go beyond net zero emissions by drawing down the excess carbon already in the atmosphere.
According to some calculations Tasmania is already at net zero emissions. Certainly we are doing much better than other states, thanks in part to our plentiful renewable electricity supply and to the carbon drawdown function performed by forest regeneration. We could be the ‘battery of the nation’ and also the carbon drawdown poster child.
Tasmania could set a wonderful example for other states to emulate by banning new climate-damaging projects in cases where climate-safe alternatives are already available.
6. We not only need to reach zero net carbon emissions but we also need to draw down excess carbon from the atmosphere in order to restore a safe climate.more...
Tasmania’s native forests, in particular its unique old-growth and wilderness areas, perform a vital carbon sink function which benefits all of humanity.
NMBI legislation targets all new climate-damaging projects but has a 2-stage approach: immediate bans where that is possible, and a planned phase-in of bans in other cases. In Tasmania’s case native forest logging has long been a divisive issue, so immediate bans might not be possible. However, if left undisturbed, native forests have immense drawdown potential, so climate-based forestry-related bans would at least be part of the second stage.
7. Using wood biomass for electricity generation is worse than using coal despite international (IPCC) agreements treating this as ‘renewable energy’.more...
Tasmania does not currently use or export wood biomass for electricity generation, but there is a huge export demand for wood biomass for generating so-called renewable energy, the NSW government is considering using wood biomass in this way, and there have been similar proposals in Tasmania.
If adopted, NMBI legislation would ban Tasmanian forestry products ever being used to generate electricity. This is entirely unnecessary given that genuine 100% renewable energy is easy in our state.
The ‘carbon neutral’ myth of burning wood for energy.
Substituting wood biomass for coal or burning it alone and calling it renewable because ‘trees regrow’ does not make it carbon neutral.
Burning wood biomass immediately releases carbon dioxide into the air. In addition the logging to supply the wood biomass destroys the capacity of the forest to store and absorb carbon. Left to grow the forest will go on absorbing and storing exponentially more carbon as it matures, through ever-spreading canopies, larger (carbon) dense trunks and branches, the extensive root systems beneath and along the forest floor, and the rich accumulation of decomposing leaf and bark material in the soil.
The international wood biomass for energy/fuel trade is a major driver of the industrial logging severely degrading forests across the world. Greenhouse gas emissions from forest degradation are now double those of the previous decade – from an average of 0.4 Gt CO2 yr-1 in the period 1991–2000 to an average of 1.0 Gt CO2 yr-1 for 2011–2015 (http://www.fao.org/docrep/009/j9345e/j9345e07.htm).
Forest biomass for energy can release three times more carbon than fossil fuels. (https://www.chathamhouse.org/publication/woody-biomass-power-and-heat-impacts-global-climate)
To ‘re-absorb’ the carbon released by the logging and burning of forests will take centuries, time we don’t have. As the global extinction rate is already catastrophic and increasing exponentially, forest dependent organisms cannot endure this trend, nor will most lifeforms on earth cope with further loss of the critical global forest carbon sink. For this reason forest wood biomass should not be regarded as or promoted as being a carbon neutral form of renewable energy.
8. NMBI legislation would stop all new climate-damaging projects once and for all. The initial bans in the NMBI legislation could, for example, result in no new fossil fuel extraction or infrastructure project applications, and no applications to use native forest wood for power generation. Then, subsequent stages would cover all other new climate-damaging projects.
Crucially, adoption of No More Bad Investments (NMBI) legislation in Tasmania would enshrine in legislation the prinicple that our state gives careful consideration to climate impacts when making planning and approval decisions. Once new climate-damaging projects are banned, attention would then naturally turn to phasing out existing climate-damaging activities as well.