New figures reveal that land clearing in Queensland has tripled - sending carbon emissions soaring and wiping out the equivalent of $472 million worth of recently purchased abatement.
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“This is an extremely bad look for Australia ahead of the upcoming global climate change summit in Paris,” said WWF-Australia scientist Dr Martin Taylor.
The Queensland Government’s just-released Statewide Landcover and Trees Study (SLATS) reveals 296,324 hectares was cleared in 2013-14 – an area larger than the ACT – up from 78,378 hectares cleared in 2009-10.
The area cleared equals more than 6.5 million house lots.
Australia recently spent more than half a billion dollars to purchase 45.45 million tonnes of CO2 abatement in the second round of the Emissions Reduction Fund auction.
But the SLATS report estimates clearing in Queensland in 2013-14 released 35.8 million tonnes of carbon – that equals about 80% of the emissions recently purchased.
It is the same amount of carbon pollution spewed out by 8 million cars in a year.
Destroying vegetation releases the carbon it stores, contributing to global warming, and the vegetation is no longer available to absorb carbon in the future.
“You have a ridiculous situation where land clearing in Queensland undoes Australia’s efforts to bring down our emissions, in effect costing the nation hundreds of millions of dollars. It also destroys wildlife habitat and kills native animals,” Dr Taylor said.
“These figures show land clearing is worse than we feared following the Newman Government’s decision to water down tree clearing laws,” said Dr Taylor who recently completed a major investigation into bushland destruction in Queensland.
“The ALP made an election commitment to restore protection, but after nine months in power nothing has changed.
“The delay is unacceptable - bushland that should be protected continues to be bulldozed each week.
“WWF welcomes today’s appointment of Deputy Premier Jackie Trad to oversee the Queensland Government’s response to tree clearing,” he said.
Mark Symons, Senior Media Officer, 0400 985 571