Some changes to our constitution

The Conservation Council Board has been looking at our Constitution to ensure it remains in line with changes under consideration by the Federal Government in particular.

While we will have to await developments there we have looked at tidying up some matters in the meantime.

We are seeking comments – even finding typos would be helpful – and these amendments would go to a general meeting of the Conservation Council.

Our current unmarked constitution is here.

And the marked up proposed amendment version of the constitution marked up proposed amendment version of the constitution* is here with comments marked in red and amendments shown as either struck through text for deletions or highlighted material for additions.

Please contact [email protected] if you have any comments or questions.

* Please note some words at 14 (b) have been deleted in this version from an earlier version



The biomass delusion

Forest biomass – trees, woodchips, thinnings, forest ‘litter’ and other materials – should not be used for energy production given its impacts on forests and on climate change. The Conservation Council ACT Region has joined with other groups through the Australian Forest Climate Alliance in endorsing this position statement.

Position Statement on Forest Biomass Energy

We share a vision of a world in which thriving natural forests play a significant role in tackling climate change and contribute to a clean, healthy, just and sustainable future for all life on earth. Burning forest wood for large-scale energy production cannot be part of that future for all of the reasons outlined below. Instead we must protect and restore natural forests, thereby reducing emissions and removing atmospheric carbon dioxide while supporting biodiversity, resilience and well-being.

Large-scale burning of forest biomass for energy:

Harms the climate

It is not low carbon – Burning forest biomass for energy is not carbon neutral. It immediately emits large quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In contrast it takes decades to centuries for forests to regrow and sequester the carbon, which is far too long to effectively contribute to the 1.5°C Paris Agreement target. Direct and indirect emissions from logging and the bioenergy supply chain also negatively affect its overall carbon balance.

It is encouraged by flawed accounting – Current carbon accounting rules incentivise forest bioenergy by considering biomass combustion as a zero-emission technology, expressed as zero emissions in the energy sector. The assumption is that all emissions are instead to be accounted for when the biomass is logged, placing the burden on the forest producer rather than the biomass consumer. Yet emissions accounting of forests in the land sector is fatally flawed and generally understates emissions. The true carbon cost of biomass burning rarely appears accurately on any country’s balance sheet.

Harms forests

It threatens biodiversity and climate resilience – Using forest biomass for energy can entrench, intensify and expand logging. This degrades forest ecosystems, depletes biodiversity and soils and harms forests’ ability to deliver ecosystem services like clean drinking water, flood protection, and clean air. Conversion of forests and other ecosystems to industrial monoculture tree plantations for biomass is especially harmful. These increased impacts come at a time when we recognise that rights-based protection and ecological restoration improve the health and well-being of forests and make them more resilient to climate change and other environmental disturbances.

It undermines the climate mitigation potential of forests – To meet the Paris Agreement goal of pursuing efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, scientists now agree we will need to draw carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. A safe and proven way to do this is to protect and restore natural forests. Logging for biomass does the opposite.

Harms people

It undermines community rights and interests – Demand for biomass can exacerbate conflicts over land and forest resources, including land grabbing. This threatens rights, interests, lives, livelihoods and cultural values of indigenous and tribal peoples and local communities as well as established businesses relying on forest resources. The wide-ranging negative effects can also impact food security for the wider populace and for the long term.

It harms human health and well-being – Forests play an important role in safeguarding communities from the worst impacts of climate change. Those living at the frontlines of forest destruction are often most vulnerable to the effects of climate change and also face oppressive extractive industries. In addition, biomass manufacturing and combustion facilities are often located in areas of socio-economic disadvantage, where they pollute the air, increasing incidents of respiratory and other diseases. Local quality of life is affected.

Harms the clean energy transition

It provides a life-line for burning coal for energy production – Co-firing forest biomass with coal extends the life of coal power stations at a time when we need to move beyond emissive, industrial scale burning.

It pulls investment away from other renewables – Biomass undermines less emissive renewable energy solutions because it competes for the same government incentives. Unlike investment in low emission technologies, such as wind and solar, biomass energy entails ongoing feedstock costs and relies on continuous subsidies.

We, the undersigned organisations believe that we must move beyond burning forest biomass to effectively address climate change. We call on governments, financiers, companies and civil society to avoid expansion of the forest biomass based energy industry and move away from its use. Subsidies for forest biomass energy must be eliminated. Protecting and restoring the world’s forests is a climate change solution, burning them is not.


Senate Select Committee on Electric Vehicles

The Australian Senate has established a Select Committee on electric vehicles and is calling for written submissions by 10 August 2018 and it will report on or before 17 October 2018. This might be an opportunity to ask that all public transport be electrified (why does ACT insist on heavier, more polluting EURO6 diesel buses when electric options are available?) and for making the point that the cost and availability of electric vehicles will make them elite options unless governments force the pace. Given that there is now no local car industry there are fewer vested interests to stop governments from facilitating electric vehicle take-up.

See details on the inquiry below. It’s good to see one term of reference is “measures to support the acceleration of electric vehicle uptake”. We’ve driven an electric vehicle and their acceleration is fantastic!


Thursday, 12 July 2018

Mr Larry O’Loughlin

Email: [email protected]au

Dear Mr O’Loughlin,

On 27 June 2018, the Senate referred the Select Committee on Electric Vehicles for inquiry and report by 17 October 2018. The full Terms of Reference for the inquiry are attached.

The committee invites you to provide a written submission by 10 August 2018, covering terms of reference relevant to you. The committee prefers that this is done online. There is an Upload Submission Online button on the committee website, which can be accessed at this address: Alternatively, submissions may be emailed as an attached document to [email protected]au or mailed in hard copy to the address below.

Please note submissions become committee documents and are made public only after a decision by the committee. Publication of submissions includes loading them onto the internet and making them available to other interested parties including the media. Please indicate if you wish the committee to consider keeping your submission, or part thereof, confidential.

Any person or organisation making a submission must not release it without the approval of the committee. Submissions are covered by parliamentary privilege, however the unauthorised release of a submission is not protected.

Information relating to Senate committee inquiries, including notes to assist the preparation of submissions, can be found at

The committee will consider all submissions, and may invite individuals and organisations to give evidence at a public hearing. If you have any further questions about the hearing or the inquiry more generally, please contact me on (02) 6277 3439.

Yours sincerely

Tas Larnach

Committee Secretary (A/g)


Terms of Reference

The Committee will inquire into and report on the following matters:

(a)       the potential economic, environmental and social benefits of widespread electric vehicle uptake in Australia;

(b)       opportunities for electric vehicle manufacturing and electric vehicle supply and value chain services in Australia, and related economic benefits;

(c)       measures to support the acceleration of electric vehicle uptake;

(d)       measures to attract electric vehicle manufacturing and electric vehicle supply and value chain manufacturing to Australia;

(e)       how federal, state and territory Governments could work together to support electric vehicle uptake and manufacturing, supply, and value chain activities; and

(f)        any other related matters.

(2)       That the committee present its final report on or before 17 October 2018.

(3)       That the committee consist of six senators, two nominated by the Leader of the Government in the Senate, two nominated by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, one nominated by the Leader of the Australian Greens, and Senator Storer.

(4)       That:

(a)       participating members may be appointed to the committee on the nomination of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate or any minority party or independent senator;

(b)       participating members may participate in hearings of evidence and deliberations of the committee, and have all the rights of members of the committee, but may not vote on any questions before the committee; and

(c)       a participating member shall be taken to be a member of the committee for the purpose of forming a quorum of the committee if a majority of members of the committee is not present.

(5)       That the committee may proceed to the dispatch of business notwithstanding that not all members have been duly nominated and appointed and notwithstanding any vacancy.

(6)       That Senator Storer be appointed as chair of the committee, and the committee elect a member nominated by the Leader of the Opposition as deputy chair.

(7)       That the deputy chair shall act as chair when the chair is absent from a meeting of the committee or the position of chair is temporarily vacant.

(8)       That the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, may appoint another member of the committee to act as chair during the temporary absence of both the chair and deputy chair at a meeting of the committee.

(9)       That, in the event of an equally divided vote, the chair, or the deputy chair when acting as chair, have a casting vote.

(10)   That the committee have power to appoint subcommittees consisting of three or more of its members, and to refer to any such subcommittee any of the matters which the committee is empowered to examine.

(11)   That the committee and any subcommittee have power to send for and examine persons and documents, to move from place to place, to sit in public or in private, notwithstanding any prorogation of the Parliament or dissolution of the House of Representatives, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings, the evidence taken and such interim recommendations as it may deem fit.

(12)   That the committee be provided with all necessary staff, facilities and resources and be empowered to appoint persons with specialist knowledge for the purposes of the committee with the approval of the President.

(13)   That the committee be empowered to print from day to day such documents and evidence as may be ordered by it, and a daily Hansard be published of such proceedings as take place in public.


Next steps to get to zero net emissions

With ever more evidence of global human impact on the atmosphere we continue to push for greater local action on climate change.

As we say: “We need to do this for the planet, for our children and their children, for a livable climate friendly future for all species. We are proud to take local action to address a global issue.”

The Conservation Council and others have produced Submission#2 – Towards Zero Net Emissions in the ACT our second submission into the post-2020 pathway for us to get to zero net emissions.

This submission is in response to ACT Government documents including ACT Climate Strategy to a Zero Net Emissions Territory. Our document has been produced in collaboration with our member groups Australian Youth Climate Council (AYCC), Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE) , Canberra Environment Centre, Climate Action Canberra, Frank Fenner Foundation, SEE-Change and 350Canberra; as well as with Australian Religious Response to Climate Change.

Some key considerations are:

  • We need a plan to get out of gas. Burning natural gas creates more than zero emissions
  • Active Transport is a no-brainer but why is it so hard to achieve an increase? And why is the modelling so conservative?
  • Getting organic waste out of our landfill really has to be a priority
  • Energy efficiency is very effective but does not seem to be getting the attention needed.
  • It is absolutely fantastic that the ACT Government is a leader on this issue and already delivering results but post-2020 it will be harder to reduce emissions as most gains to date are from the switch to 100% renewable energy. Now we need a good realistic plan to get us to zero.


World Environment Day Dinner 2018

The 2018 World Environment Day Dinner held Saturday 2 June at the National Arboretum Canberra was a successful event with high attendance, excellent feedback and good fundraising.

The World Environment Day dinner is the Conservation Council’s main annual fundraising event through ticket sales, sponsorship, raffles, auctions and donations. It is also a great event for catching up with and meeting people who are also involved or interested in environmental issues.

Our MC for the evening was Louise Maher (pictured), the ABC Radio Canberra Field and Online Reporter.

There was a short talk from Janet Jeffs, Executive Chef of Ginger Catering, our partner for the event, on the philosophy of using regional produce and respecting the food and the producers. Some of the primary produce for the dinner came from Janet’s own farm.

We had a short presentation on frogs with Anke Maria Hoefner of Frogwatch making their calls (now that is having a frog in your throat). There were some special visitors – threatened species in the form of a striped legless lizard and a grassland earless dragon accompanied by ranger Brett Howland (who is not as threatened as the lizards).

Our guest speaker Stuart Barry presented on three ways we can use our money to help save the environment and he also donated copies of his book The Rich Greenie.

A lot of work went into arranging to make the bus easy and fun to catch to the Dinner with thanks to volunteer Paul Magarey and to Transport Canberra.

Bus travellers – and bike riders and walkers – received a free ticket in the Active Transport raffle. All guests at the Dinner were able to buy raffle tickets no matter how they travelled to the event. Prizes were the Perpetual Motion IV Electric Bike valued at $1,800 generously donated by Switched On Cycles and the ‘Wildlife Discovery and Ride with the Roos’ tour of Tidbinbilla on electric bikes for seven kangaroos (or people), valued at $700 and generously donated by Canberra Urban Adventures

Music was by Alec Randles and classical guitarist Col Clarke. Check out some of Alec’s music here.

There were silent auctions run online through AllBids. At the dinner people were be able to bid fairly simply with mobile phones.

There were great items for sale; see our tweet: “Do you really want to run Canberra? Let @ShaneRattenbury show you how!…“.

Our auctioneer Jenna Dunley, who had recently won Novice Auctioneer of the Year in a national competition, ran our live auction for items including one week’s use of an electric BMW I3S and the specially-developed Bungendore Experience package.

Again, a big thank you to our sponsors – all of whom work with the Conservation Council to have discussions, often robust, to get better outcomes for the environment. Ginninderry challenges us with a great big development but at the same time comes to us to seek and then use advice on how to get the best outcomes and then they share the outcomes of their research. We have an ongoing discussion with ActewAGL (EvoEnergy) on future energy options and while we might disagree on the future of gas, we agree on the need to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions. Icon Water has been good at consulting on the environmental and affordability impacts of their services and this engagement is appreciated. And Bank Australia has been a good bank for us, and the environment, by being a bank that doesn’t invest in fossil fuels (as well as providing a good banking service). And thanks to Dirty Deeds Event Sound – it’s good to be heard.

And thank you to the individuals and businesses who generously donated prizes to our raffles here!

In 2018 we had nearly 300 people attending. Our sponsorship was up slightly – we get support and the sponsors get dinner, advertising and networking opportunities – raffles were down and auctions were up. Donations remained steady.

Our survey of attendees showed that people liked the event, the venue and the length of proceedings. The entree was the favourite course and most people liked the guest speaker Stuart Barry.

Quite a few people appreciated the encouragement of active transport such as bus or cycling to the dinner, and especially that the buses went to town centres other than Civic.

We always review the event and discuss whether we should keep doing it and if so what we should keep and what we should change. The Board has already had a first look and yes, we will do it again in 2019.