Photo: More than 40 people gathered to clear rubbish from the remote beach. (Supplied: Blue Douglas)

Photo: More than 40 people gathered to clear rubbish from the remote beach. (Supplied: Blue Douglas)

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Our top story today confirms the message about the large foot print of meat production and associated environmental impacts is getting through to British citizens with more than a quarter actively trying to reduce meat in their diet. Also on food, an analysis from nutritionists about whether organic meat is actually better for you. Australia’s energy mix continues to puzzle, with new obstacles and knock on effects coming to the fore almost weekly; the Great Barrier Reef is dying but we should be careful about geoengineering; best whale watching in the world at Timor Leste; UK government looks to encourage ethical companies; and more on #WarOnWaste with stories of individuals banding together to help in a myriad of ways.\

Top Story

Study: Quarter of Brits identify as ‘meat-reducers’ in their diets | Business Green
UK – More than a quarter of Britons say they are attempting to reduce the amount of meat they eat, with concerns about environmental impact featuring high on the list of reasons, according to the findings of a new nationwide poll published today. In yet further evidence of the growing trend towards vegetarian, vegan, and ‘flexitarian’ diets in the UK, the survey by Censuswide found 28 per cent of respondents identified as ‘meat-reducers’ – people who are actively attempting to reduce meat in their diets.

Climate Change and Energy

AEMO’s Zibelman admits “hiccup” in new solar and wind connections | RenewEconomy
Australian Energy Market Operator CEO Audrey Zibelman has conceded there is a “hiccup” in the connection of new solar and wind projects to the grid, caused by the overwhelming volume of construction, and as the speed of new projects overtakes the ability of the grid to adapt. Grid connections – and delays and added costs – have emerged as the overwhelming concern for the renewable energy industry, even more so than the fate of the National Energy Guarantee,.

WA energy minister mulls home battery incentives, in solar tariff review | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – The Western Australia government is reportedly mulling the introduction of home battery storage incentives, as the state works to manage a rate of rooftop solar uptake that is expected to grow three-fold in the next decade. The West Australian reported on Tuesday that energy minister Ben Wyatt was looking at ways to boost battery uptake, alongside possible changes to the state’s rooftop solar tariffs, that would either wind them back or scrap them altogether.

Environment and Biodiversity

Geoengineering the Great Barrier Reef needs strong rules | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The Great Barrier Reef has experienced extensive coral bleaching over the past two years. Faced with this reality, scientists are proposing a range of options to save the reef. A recent conference showcased new possibilities for enhancing Reef resilience, including boosting coral abundance and geoengineering techniques that would manipulate local conditions to reduce ocean temperatures. These geoengineering approaches carry their own risks, and require careful management, even at the research and field testing stages

Timor-Leste a mecca for whales, but they face threats | The Guardian
Olive Andrews believes Timor Leste could be one of the best destinations in the world for whale watching. The research scientist with a particular interest in cetaceans drew this conclusion when she joined a survey team assessing the coastal waters north of Timor-Leste in October 2016. “I’ve never seen such a biomass of cetaceans in such a small geography,” she says. “We encountered 2287 cetaceans from 11 species, including superpods of up to 600 individuals.”

Conservation International and the University of Adelaide carried out a short survey to expand scientific knowledge of the range and abundance of whales and dolphins in the waters around Timor-Leste. Photograph: Grant Abel/Conservation International

Conservation International and the University of Adelaide carried out a short survey to expand scientific knowledge of the range and abundance of whales and dolphins in the waters around Timor-Leste. Photograph: Grant Abel/Conservation International

Minister defensive over 117-year anomaly | newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – Approval for the sale of a massive high country farm ignores a 117-year-old promise to include part of it in a national park – something Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage pushed for last year. David Williams reports.
See also: Slice of pristine South Island high country ‘should finally become national park’ |

Economy and Business

Ethical firms hope to win more gov’t contracts with new UK strategy | Thomson Reuters Foundation
UK – Britain is likely to strengthen a law that favours ethical firms bidding for government contracts, experts said ahead of the sector’s biggest policy review in years, as the UK seeks to cement its status as a global leader for innovative businesses. Experts said a new strategy to support social enterprises – businesses that seek to do good and make a profit – is likely to be revealed in August, after the government invited the public to submit their ideas earlier this year.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Cape Arnhem residents take clean-up of trashed remote beaches into their own hands | ABC News
Just how bad is plastic waste along the remote and sacred shores of Cape Arnhem? When 42 residents of nearby Nhulunbuy attempted to clean a 1.5-kilometre stretch of beach strewn with plastic, they put in a combined 300 hours of labour. The group collected so many bags of rubbish that they had to leave some behind, and some locals say the work has only just begun.

Photo: More than 40 people gathered to clear rubbish from the remote beach. (Supplied: Blue Douglas)

Photo: More than 40 people gathered to clear rubbish from the remote beach. (Supplied: Blue Douglas)

Dumpster divers say too much is going to waste from New Zealand supermarkets |
NEW ZEALAND – Dumpster divers from Wellington and Auckland say they’ve saved thousands of dollars on scavenged food. But the food waste from supermarkets is a “broken system” as some families can’t afford to shop, they say.

Some dumpster divers say they gather food for families who need it. Photo: Stuff

Some dumpster divers say they gather food for families who need it. Photo: Stuff

Farmers urged to stockpile baleage wrap as Thailand closes border to plastics |
NEW ZEALAND – Thailand has closed its borders to some plastics recycling and that’s going to cause a problem for some of Southland’s farmers. Southland disAbility Enterprises, which sells the provinces’ bale wrap to an overseas buyer for recycling, is urging farmers to stockpile this seasons’ wrap until it can find another market for it because the Thailand market is flooded and it had closed its borders, general manager Hamish McMurdo said.

Politics and Society

Australia’s climate change adaptation plan is non-existent | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Despite the distraction and political chaos of Brexit negotiations, the United Kingdom has just published a far-reaching and thoroughly impressive plan to manage risks from climate change. It should be compulsory reading for the Australian Government, because we have no such plan. Considering the lives that will be lost, this is negligence in medical terms. And as a doctor, it concerns me greatly: all doctors recognise the vital need for adaptation to manage the growing health risks of climate change.\

Renewables jobs growth and confidence up, for now | The Fifth Estate
Employment opportunities for people in renewables looks strong, with 73 per cent of clean energy and storage companies planning to increase staff numbers in the next 12 months, according to the Clean Energy Council’s inaugural Clean Energy Outlook survey. However, while jobs growth in the short-term is set to boom, companies remain cautious post-2020 due to policy uncertainty at the federal level.

Trust Me, I’m An Expert: what the huge HILDA survey reveals about your economic well-being, health and family life | The Conversation (Podcast 23:25)
AUSTRALIA – The Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey tells the stories of the same group of Australians over the course of their lives. Starting in 2001, the survey now tracks more than 17,500 people in 9,500 households, asking about their economic well-being, health and family life. So what does this year’s report tell us about the country Australia has become?

How the UK media changed its tune on climate change | Climate Home News
UK – Britons are well known for keeping up-to-date with their weather. Rain or shine makes a headline. Mainstream media outlets are quick to report on any type of unusual weather event in the UK. There has been no let up in coverage since temperatures started heating up towards the end of June. Typically, when it comes to making a link to climate change, they are more cautious. But in the past week suddenly it was everywhere. Are journalists finally getting it?

Built Environment

What’s wrong with big solar in cities? Nothing, if it’s done right | The Conversation
Many of us are familiar with developments of big solar farms in rural and regional areas. These are often welcomed as a positive sign of our transition towards a low-carbon economy. But do large-scale solar installations have a place in our cities?

Food Systems

German farmers call for $1 billion to offset drought conditions | Climate Action Programme
GERMANY – Farmers in the north and east of Germany are facing unprecedented losses as a result of continued high temperatures and lack of rain. The continued global heatwave has hit European countries particularly hard with minimal rains for the past two to three months. This has hit crop yields during a period when many farmers would expect high levels of growth, particularly for sugar beets, rapeseed, potatoes and corn. The trade association for German farmers, DBV, is calling for the government to step in and help struggling farms, particularly ones where the harvest has been reduced by more than 30 percent the yearly average.

Livestock treatment may offer solution to antibiotics crisis, say scientists | The Guardian
Using animals’ own immune systems may provide a way to reduce the overuse of antibiotics in farming, replacing the drugs with cheap farm byproducts and cutting the growing risk of resistance to common medicines, new research has suggested.

Organic, grass fed and hormone-free: does this make red meat any healthier? | The Conversation
Red meat is an excellent source of protein and essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and omega-3 fats, which are are linked to heart and brain health. But while a small quantity of lean meat may be good for us, too much red or processed meat can increase our risk of some cancers. Organic farming and grass feeding are promoted as having some social and environmental benefits compared with conventionally produced red meats. However, are they any healthier?