This morning 23rd March, an item on ‘AM’ the ABC Radio current affairs programme quoted an ARTC (Australian Rail Track Corporation) report as saying that the use of timber sleepers results in 500x the carbon emissions compared to using concrete sleepers.** That report claimed the Australian Greenhouse Office as its source.
I have commented to AM through their web site which unfortunately goes to them and them alone. For your interest the following is a reasonable reproduction of that email.
Your item this morning 23rd March quoted the Australian Greenhouse Office as the source of a statement that the use of timber sleepers produces 500 times the carbon emissions of concrete sleepers. That statement must surely put the credibility of the Greenhouse Office at risk.
Some basic facts:
Fact 1. We should all know that timber contains carbon and concrete does not.
Fact 2. To store 1000kg of carbon in railway sleepers 67kg of carbon will be emmitted in the process. The production of concrete to do the same job emits 430kg of carbon and stores none.
Fact 3. To convert a timber sleeper track to a concrete sleeper track means that all the timber sleepers become an emission. Add that to the emissions of producing the concrete replacements and we have a combined emission of 61.2 tonnes of carbon per km and none in storage.
Fact 4. A natural forest of regrowth and old growth is carbon neutral. That is it is emitting carbon at the same rate it is absorbing it from the atmosphere.
Fact 5. A healthy, sustainably managed, production forest is constantly absorbing more carbon than it emits. At the same time carbon is being stored for the life of its products in service.
Fact 6. By excluding the tribal aboriginal from the river front, open woodlands of River Red Gum have turned into closed forests of tall slim trees. If these forests become National Parks they will still need thinning treatment if they are to support the range of biodiversity that we expect to find.
Fact 7. Forests in National Parks can receive thinning treatment, as is the case in the Box- Ironbark, but the trees must be felled to waste as the product from a National Park cannot be sold.
** On October 01, 2006, I blogged ‘Switch to Concrete Railway Sleepers, Negates Wind Farm Savings’ with comment that:
“There is much community concern about global warming and an expectation we will all do our bit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
So why did the Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) decide to transfer its annual requirement for 400,000 railway sleepers from timber to concrete?
According to Mark Poynter* this will result in an extra 190,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year that could otherwise have been negated by carbon sequestered in forest regrowth and saved by avoiding concrete manufacture.
Read the full post here: http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/001660.html