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The Real Potential of Giving Tuesday (Blog)
Several years ago, a group of philanthropists created a much appreciated answer to the consumerist memes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday quickly took hold — a day of donating to good works, all around the world. What that means within community benefit organizations themselves, however, is that there is now an official kick-off to the “year-end giving season” — a full month of scrambling for attention, competing for the scarce resource of donors to help with their cause. Imagine what it would make possible if Giving Tuesday grew beyond a day where causes ask for help from the outside world. Imagine if Giving Tuesday were instead a day of celebrating the power and strength that already exists within communities and within the organizations that support those communities. What if Giving Tuesday were a day where everyone in a community gave to each other?

COP 20 Conference, Peru

Optimism Greets New Round of UN Climate Talks
Buoyed by new climate pledges from the United States, China, and Europe, diplomats from 195 countries will begin meeting in Lima, Peru, on Monday to draft a new accord to curb global warming. Organized by the United Nations, the conference aims to lay the groundwork for an agreement to be finalized by December 2015, when world leaders will meet in Paris. Called COP 20, the 12-day gathering marks the 20th time countries will have met to discuss climate change since 1992. The agreement is hoped to be a successor to 1997’s Kyoto Protocol, which expired in 2012 but was never adopted by the U.S. or China, and so had limited impact

COP20: Cautious optimism as delegates descend on Lima ahead of UN climate talks
It is more than 20 years since the Earth Summit in Rio put climate change on the international agenda, seventeen years since the Kyoto protocol was hammered out and five years since the Copenhagen talks ended in bitter recriminations. This week delegates from more than 190 nations are descending on Lima, Peru, for COP20, the 20th climate change conference and the last ministerial meeting before a new global deal is due to be inked in Paris in a year’s time. So is the world any closer to a new deal? Here are five things you need to know.

Annual United Nations climate conference held in Peru, the human face of climate risks
The sound of a massive Glacier 513 cracks over speakers in the town hall of Huaraz in western Peru. The TV screens in the hall show the scene as the unstable ice mass on the Nevado Hualcan Mountain creaks and disintegrates high above the 11,000 townsfolk. Transmitted from geophones and CCTVs on the glacier, the noise and images are the constant reminder of the threats posed by climate change. More than 70 per cent of the world’s tropical glaciers are located in Peru. Between 1939 and 2006, they have been reduced by 39 per cent as the temperature in the Andes has risen by 0.7 degrees. If Peru – the venue for the annual United Nations climate conference, starting next week – is one of the most exposed countries to the impacts of climate change, thanHuaraz, high in the Cordillera de los Andes, is close to its ground zero.

Energy and Climate Change

As The Keystone Pipeline Inches Closer, Look At The Destructive Legacy Of Tar Sands Oil
By a single vote, the U.S. Senate failed to fast-track the approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline last week, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil straight across the nation to the Gulf of Mexico. Lawmakers are expected to approve it in January, however, and President Obama may or may not let it squeak through. A new photo series traces the path of the proposed pipeline, from the tar sands in Alberta to massive refineries in Texas. The photos make something clear: With or without the pipeline, huge amounts of tar sands oil are already being extracted and flowing into the U.S. Over the last four years, the amount of Canadian crude sent to Texas has increased by 83%.

Environment and Biodiversity

Our Favorite Pictures of Cats You’ve Never Heard Of
This weekend kicks off National Geographic’s Big Cat Week. Though lions, tigers, and cheetahs occupy the spotlight, their smaller cousins deserve some attention too. We reached deep into our archives to pull up portraits of a sampling of the 30 small cat species.

Sea urchins could turn south-east Australian reefs into wastelands, study finds
Sea urchins could turn pristine reefs in Australia’s south-east into permanent wastelands, new international research suggests. The marine ecosystem study, led by Tasmanian scientist Scott Ling, found sea urchin numbers were increasing in warming coastal waters off south-eastern Australia, because of favourable breeding conditions. Professor Ling, from the Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, warned kelp forests found in eastern coastal waters were at breaking point because of overgrazing by sea urchins.  “When this occurs the kelp beds collapse into these sea urchin barrens,” he said. “You lose all the diversity of species in the kelp bed and you’re just left with this barren moonscape.”

Economy and Business

Buying secondhand: an alternative to rampant consumerism of Black Friday
Today, thousands are expected to descend on stores across the UK to snap up Black Friday deals. Visa Europe estimates that UK consumers will spend £360,000 a minute on their credit cards and make 8.5m online transactions..  Last week was #secondhandfirst week. Curated by Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development (TRAID), the initiative encourages people to commit to buying more used than new items. We’ve asked those involved in the worlds of upcycling, refurbishing, mending and secondhand to share their thoughts on consumer perceptions of buying used. Can it ever generate as much excitement as Black Friday?

New Greenpeace Report Calls Out Best Buy for Destroying Ancient Forest
On Wednesday, Greenpeace released a report exposing Best Buy for fuelling destruction in Canada’s Boreal Forest, one of the world’s last remaining ancient forests. The report reveals the electronics retail giant – which has been heralded for its leadership in e-waste collection and recycling — is apparently buying more than 100 million pounds of paper every year to produce throw-away flyers, from Resolute Forest Products — a company that sources almost exclusively from the Boreal.

Gerri Ward – Taking energy in a new direction
NEW ZEALAND – Driving environmental sustainability at a petrol retailer seems counterintuitive at best; at worst, being on a hiding to nothing. Gerri Ward, the sustainability manager at Z Energy, was even accused by a workmate at her old employer, the Department of Conservation, of selling out and going to the dark side when she joined Z two years ago. “It feels a hell of a lot lighter to me,” she says. The NZX-listed petrol station operator has lofty goals to reduce its environmental impact – everything from cutting landfill waste by 70 per cent to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels. We’re very straight up about that fact that we contribute to climate change, which is the biggest environmental threat of our time, and we are in a uniquely central position to do something about that.”

Your Business: Sustainability with Steve Boyd, Deadly Ponies
Steve Boyd is managing director of Deadly Ponies, which produces leather handbags and small accessories, predominantly using ethically sourced New Zealand deer nappa. The Auckland-based company has six office staff and 10 to 15 people in production. “Our customers appreciate locally designed and ethically sourced materials. We felt that out of loyalty to them our product should reflect business practices that are environmentally sustainable.”

Himalayan Stove Project Matching Donations on #GivingTuesday
In an effort to get back to a more meaningful sense of the “holiday spirit” after the over-hyped Black Friday (November 28) and Cyber Monday (December 1) spending binges that follow Thanksgiving, more than 10,000 organizations will give consumers more bang for their donated and charitable bucks on #GivingTuesday on December 2. Among them is The Himalayan Stove Project, the US-based nonprofit that distributes free, clean-burning cookstoves to the people of the High Himalayas to reduce deadly Household Air Pollution (HAP), which will offer a 24-hour donation-matching program on the “national day of giving back.”

Politics and Society

Countdown to the post-2015 development agenda
As the clock ticks down on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the world community is deep in discussion over the successor global framework.  The MDGs have helped cut poverty by half and the hunger target is within reach, but there are still more than 800 million people hungry. New challenges have emerged since the turn of the millennium. Food security, nutrition, transition to sustainable agriculture and sustainable use of natural resources – water, farmland, soil, forests and oceans – now count high among the world’s major priorities.  A growing global population, diminishing natural resource base and worsening effects of climate change are reshaping the development agenda. Member states clearly want to see greater attention of sustainability in all three pillars: social, economic and environmental. To prepare for launch at the end of 2015, we count down 10 things to know about the emerging post-2015 development agenda.

Former Wallabies captain David Pocock arrested at NSW coal mine protest in Leard State Forest
Pocock said as a young Australian he hoped his involvement in the protest sent a message about the need to move away from reliance on fossil fuels. “I believe it’s time for direct action on climate change, standing together as ordinary Australians to take control of our shared future,” he said. He was also concerned about the impact on local residents. “This mine is about so much more than climate change,” he said. “This is something that’s beginning to impact the community and will have far greater impacts in the future in terms of the water table, the health implications of living next to a coal mine. I would be doing this regardless of what career I had. It is part of being a human being and taking on the challenges we face as a society. It is about giving back and getting the conversation going.”

Australia, China and the new carbon climate
Australia was once widely regarded as a nation that “punched above its weight” in international affairs. It’s a cliché, and not necessarily a helpful one, but it reflected a reputation gained over many years for constructive and influential diplomacy on many issues of global and regional significance. In one notable example, successive Australian governments – both Labor and Liberal–National – have played a leading role for more than thirty years in nuclear non-proliferation and arms control efforts. In the face of intransigence by the major powers (all of which had nuclear weapons), Australia applied its resources creatively and skilfully to achieve tangible benefits in the realm of peace and security. Compare that with Australia’s approach to climate change – another issue of global importance where major power intransigence has long been contrary to Australia’s, and the world’s, long-term interests.

Food Systems

New Zealand impresses overseas farm leaders
Farm leaders from Canada, Argentina and Poland have returned home singing New Zealand’s praises following a two-week visit. Canadian Doug Chorney said the New Zealand public seemed to have a better appreciation for the benefits that agriculture could bring. “What impressed me the most was the level of knowledge in every situation, whether it was dairy, sheep or beef – farmers were conscious of how to manage erosion, soils, riparian areas, and most impressively they weren’t doing these things because the Government is holding a stick over them, they were doing them out of the awareness of what should be done,” Chorney, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers, said.

Raw cheese ban under review by Food Standards Australia
Cheesemakers, chefs and foodies could soon have access to a banned substance at the centre of a heated debate. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is reviewing whether to allow soft cheeses to be made with raw milk. Current regulations require most cheeses to be made from pasteurised milk – a process of heating the milk to kill bacteria, including listeria, e coli and salmonella. Foodies such as Tasmanian sheep milk cheesemaker Nicole Gilliver argue the process also killed flavour. “Unfortunately what happens with pasteurisation is often the good and bad bacteria are killed in the process,” she said. “(That) means for us as artisans, we potentially compromise colonies of bacteria that can drive flavour for us.”


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