Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Top Story

China and US carbon pledges. Photograph: Guardian

China and US carbon pledges. Photograph: Guardian

China makes carbon pledge ahead of Paris climate change summit
China will aim to cut its greenhouse gas emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 60-65% from 2005 levels under a plan submitted to the United Nations ahead of crucial climate change talks in Paris later this year. The pledge has been eagerly awaited as the country is the world’s largest carbon emitter.  China said it would increase the share of non-fossil fuels as part of its primary energy consumption to about 20% by 2030, and peak emissions by around the same point, though it would “work hard” to do so earlier.

More on China’s pledge:

Energy and Climate Change

Brazil reveals renewable energy goal on US visit
Brazil is aiming to get 28-33% of its energy from renewable sources in 2030, not counting hydropower, president Dilma Rousseff revealed on Tuesday.Visiting US counterpart Barack Obama in Washington, Rousseff also promised policies to eliminate illegal deforestation and restore 12 million hectares of forest by 2030.These will form part of the country’s hotly anticipated contribution to a UN climate deal.

100 billion reasons a global climate pact may fall apart
The richest nations still haven’t convinced the rest of the world they’re willing to pick up the tab to help curb climate change, diplomats warned at a United Nations conference Monday. With five months to go before a critical conference that’s expected to result in a global emissions pact, developing nations say they’re still waiting for proof the richest countries will meet a $US100 billion ($130 billion) -a-year pledge to help them curb greenhouse gases and adapt to a warming world. The concerns threaten to undermine talks aimed at reaching an agreement in Paris in December.

Green Climate Fund shortlists projects worth $500m
The Green Climate Fund has reviewed 120 requests for cash totalling US$6 billion to help poor countries deal with climate change.Of these, $500 million worth of projects “look promising”, the UN-backed climate finance initiative’s chief has revealed.Héla Cheikhrouhou said the body was aiming to get the first projects cleared before this December’s climate summit in Paris.

Adani’s Carmichael Mine is unbankable says Queensland Treasury
Australia’s largest new coal project, one hailed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott as a poverty-busting “miracle”, is unbankable in the assessment of Queensland’s Treasury, which also has question marks over the development’s transparency. Documents released under Queensland’s freedom-of-information laws show officials at the highest level of the Queensland Treasury held grave doubts about Indian mining company Adani’s capacity to see through its Carmichael coal mine project in central Queensland even as former premier Campbell Newman was promising taxpayer funds to help establish the mine.

Victoria puts energy efficiency front and centre
AUSTRALIA – Energy efficiency will be central to the Victorian economy, a new state government energy statement has revealed. The Energy Efficiency and Productivity Statement launched at the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia’s Energy Future event in Melbourne last week puts improving the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings as one of the government’s top priorities, alongside helping businesses and vulnerable energy consumers, transforming energy markets, and focusing on government leadership and creating Victorian energy efficiency jobs.

Repower Shoalhaven renewable energy investment scheme funded by locals
AUSTRALI A – First, it was the local bowling club. Then the churches. In the Shoalhaven, community solar power is on the rise.   Renewable energy is expected to supply almost 60 per cent of Australian electricity by 2040, according to research by  Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which found the fall in renewable energy prices  would drive a shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy. One community in NSW has already reaped the benefits of an early move to community-owned renewable energy.

Government must explain removal of support for onshore wind, advisers say
UK – The government must explain how its withdrawal of support from onshore windfarms will affect the cost of meeting greenhouse gas emissions targets, and urgently set out plans for alternative electricity generation, its statutory advisors on climate change have said. One of the first policy announcements from the incoming Conservative government was that support for onshore windfarms would be withdrawn from 2016, and planning procedures put in place that will make it much harder for any new windfarms to be brought forward.

Environment and Biodiversity

Water shortages ‘too much’ for lower Darling farmers
AUSTRALIA – Landholders on the bone-dry lower Darling river say poor water management decisions have made their businesses unviable. The river has completely dried out in parts, as efforts continue upstream to maintain a drinking supply for Broken Hill in the Menindee Lakes. Near Pooncarie organic sheep farmer Wes Crozier said he’s hurriedly sinking bores for stock and domestic use. He said it’s the first time the riverfront property’s needed them in the three generations his family’s spent working there.

Worth saving: landscapes threatened by climate change – gallery
We asked you for photos of places you want to save from rising tides, changing temperatures and natural disasters.

“Two trees struck me on a desolate strip of sand on Olkhon Island (Russia). This area was peaceful and beautiful, but the weather was icy and snow spotted the ground. Behind me was a wood with trees crumbling in the bitter winter, but these two were thriving in isolation.” Olkhon Island sits on Lake Baikal, which the Russian government says is disappearing due to drought.

“Two trees struck me on a desolate strip of sand on Olkhon Island (Russia). This area was peaceful and beautiful, but the weather was icy and snow spotted the ground. Behind me was a wood with trees crumbling in the bitter winter, but these two were thriving in isolation.” Olkhon Island sits on Lake Baikal, which the Russian government says is disappearing due to drought.
Photograph: Kelly McBride/GuardianWitness

Economy and Business

GBCA gets on board with Climate Bonds Initiative
Australian property owners with Green Star – Performance ratings can now access funds from large institutional investors seeking low-carbon assets, thanks to a partnership between the Green Building Council of Australia and the Climate Bonds Initiative. The GBCA’s Green Star – Performance tool will now meet the reporting requirements of the Climate Bonds Standard, which has been developed to help investors determine suitable investments for addressing climate change.

Lumber Liquidators Caught Selling Illegal Wood
USA – When companies do good, they should be rewarded. Likewise, when companies do bad, they need to be punished. Lumber Liquidators needs be held accountable for selling timber harvested from illegal sources, putting ecosystems at risk.

Waste and the Circular Economy

The European circular economy package – what the experts think
In December last year, the European commission stepped back from its circular economy package, which had included a ban on sending recyclable materials to landfill by 2025 and a target for EU states to recycle 70% of municipal waste by 2030.  The commission now says it is aiming to present “a new, more ambitious circular economy strategy” later this year and is currently in its consultation phase. We asked experts what they hoped to see from the new package.

Politics and Society

Climate Change Committee report: Industry reacts
UK – The sustainability industry has roundly welcomed the first report of the new parliament from the Climate Change Committee.  The report, released today, contained detailed recommendations for how the Government should continue to tackle climate change in five key areas: Electricity, Transport, Infrastructure, Buildings, and Land and Water management.

More on the CCC report:

Built Environment

World’s first electric double-decker to drive down London bus emissions
London will add the world’s first purpose-built electric double-decker bus to its fleet this year, announced Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday, amid efforts to cut London bus carbon emissions. The purely electric bus, produced by Chinese vehicle manufacturers BYD, was unveiled at the world’s first Clean Bus Summit in London and will be trialled on route 16 from October, serving bus stops between Cricklewood and Victoria Station. Johnson said at the event, “The iconic red double-decker bus is about to become greener than ever. I could not be more pleased that London will play host to these exciting pure electric-double decker buses, and

‘Make air pollution visible’ campaign launched to improve UK air quality
A new campaign plans to bring together businesses, government and local groups to solve the problem of air pollution in the UK.  Deliver Change, a non-profit organisation focused on sustainable technology projects, launched the campaign in central London yesterday (29 June) at an event hosted by the Wellcome Trust.

Aviation vs climate as UK picks runway
A government-appointed commission is set to endorse expansion at one prominent London airport on Wednesday, jeopardising the country’s carbon-cutting targets.The choice is between expanding Gatwick or Heathrow to accommodate soaring passenger demand, as the UK grapples to keep one of its airports an international hub.The Davies Commission’s long-awaited verdict has split the cabinet, incensed affected residents and sparked a publicity war between the duelling airports.

Food Systems

Consumer Goods Industry Commits to Halving Its Food Waste Globally by 2025
Last week, The Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) — whose membership includes hundreds of consumer brands from a range of industries around the world, including food giants Campbell Soup, Clif Bar, Hershey, Mars and Procter & Gamble — announced a new resolution to mitigate the roughly 40 percent of food wasted globally by agreeing to halve food waste within the operations of its 400 retailer and manufacturer members by 2025, and to support wider UN Goals on the issue.

Daily, 95.4 tons of food go to waste in Manaus, capital of a state where 648,600 people are included in the range of extreme poverty. | Image credit: Cáritas Brasileira

Daily, 95.4 tons of food go to waste in Manaus, capital of a state where 648,600 people are included in the range of extreme poverty. | Image credit: Cáritas Brasileira


Cheesemakers want farmers to diversify
NEW ZEALAND – Two Takaka master cheesemakers are hoping to inspire a new generation into their craft. Gabrielle Kervella and Alan Cockman make Kervella Cheese, currently only available in Takaka in Golden Bay and at Fresh Choice in Nelson, but the couple want to share their recipes and inspire people to make their cheeses through the country.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.