Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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How Leonardo DiCaprio became one of the world’s top climate change champions
Leonardo DiCaprio was a climate champion long before the actor wrapped himself in an animal carcass, vomited up raw bison liver, and risked hypothermia for his Oscar-winning role in Revenant. DiCaprio used his acceptance speech for best actor to urge a global audience to reject the “politics of greed”, and support leaders willing to take action against climate change.
See also: Leonardo DiCaprio leads political charge at 2016 Oscars

Energy and Climate Change

China coal consumption drops again
China’s coal consumption fell for the second year in a row, government data showed Monday, as the world’s biggest polluter attempts to tackle chronic pollution that accompanied economic growth. Coal use fell 3.7% last year compared to 2014 levels, according to a report from China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The drop follows a 2.9% decrease in 2014.

Japan to slash carbon emissions by 80%
The Japanese government is planning to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent by 2050 from current levels, according to The Nikkei on Monday. The government will increase renewable energy generation and promote clean technology development and is also aiming to restart nuclear power reactors across the country when safety checks have been made.

EU set to emit 2bn tonnes more CO2 than Paris climate pledge
The EU is set to emit 2bn tonnes more CO2 than it promised at the Paris climate talks, threatening an agreement to cap global warming at 2C, a note from the European commission has revealed. Carbon prices will rise too slowly to cut industrial emissions as much as needed, says a confidential note prepared for MEPs on the environment committee, which the Guardian has seen.

Australia’s biggest polluters increase emissions on Coalition watch
New government data has confirmed what has been widely suspected – the nation’s top polluters are actually increasing emissions, and will likely continue to do so despite Australia’s recent pledge to join the ambitious climate agreement sealed in Paris.
See also: Emissions on the rise from Australia’s largest climate polluters, data shows

Firefighters union says climate change causing staffing and resourcing issues
Summer may be officially drawing to a close, but fire-fighters around Australia are not expecting much relief with hot and dry conditions forecast to continue for weeks. And fire authorities are calling a rethink of the country’s fire-fighting resources. They say climate change is extending and worsening Australia’s fire seasons and that has meant for the first time they’re now struggling to staff fire stations.

Six burning questions for climate science to answer post-Paris
Much has been written about the challenge of achieving the targets set out in the Paris climate agreement, which calls for global warming to be held well below 2℃ and ideally within 1.5℃ of pre-industrial temperatures… But what are the many elements of climate science that need strengthening to achieve the aims of the Paris agreement? Here are six questions that need answers.

Environment and Biodiversity

Mysterious chimpanzee behaviour may be evidence of ‘sacred’ rituals
Whenever you return to a camera trap there is always a sense of excitement in the air of the mysteries that it could hold – despite the fact that most of our videos consisted of branches swaying in strong winds or wandering farmers’ cows enthusiastically licking the camera lens, there is an uncontrollable anticipation that maybe something amazing has been captured. What we saw on this camera was exhilarating – a large male chimp approaches our mystery tree and pauses for a second. He then quickly glances around, grabs a huge rock and flings it full force at the tree trunk.

Hunua Ranges 1080 drop programme wipes out rats and possums
NEW ZEALAND – Aerial 1080 poison drops in Auckland’s Hunua Ranges have dramatically reduced pest numbers, an Auckland Council report says. The poison drops, which cost over half a million dollars, have virtually wiped out both rat and possum populations in the Hunua Ranges regional parklands, according to the report.  The report’s findings were published in an open agenda for a meeting of Auckland Council’s Regional Strategy and Policy Committee on March 3.

‘Elusive’ native moth re-discovered after 30 years
NEW ZEALAND – To most people, the trap would have contained a pair of small, brown moths. But when entomologist Robert Hoare saw the insects, he knew he’d stuck metaphorical gold. He’d found two izatha caustopa moths, a rare New Zealand species that hasn’t been seen for 30 years. The moth has only been caught three times since 1942… Hoare suspects… attachment to fuschia may be threatening the species. Fuschia trees are a favourite food for possums, and as a result are declining in parts of New Zealand. That means less habitat for the moths, which are likely an important food source for birds like riflemen, grey warblers and fantails.

Economy and Business

G20 commits to greening $90trn of investments to 2030
Finance ministers and central bank governors from the G20 major economies committed on Saturday to exploring ways of greening the US$90 trillion of investments required up to 2030 to achieve international climate targets. Under the Chinese Presidency, G20 launched the Green Finance Study Group, co-chaired by China and the UK, to mobilise private capital for green investments.

Whether it’s Mexico’s gold or Zimbabwe’s diamonds, mining is riven with violence and business is complicit
Along Central African Republic’s (CAR) eastern rivers small groups of independent miners are searching for diamonds and gold. As with many miners, they have to pay for a licence. Their licence, however, is not issued by any government. Violent armed groups control these rivers, and they are the primary beneficiaries of their hidden wealth. They are not the only armed groups or oppressive forces benefitting from mining’s bounty. The pattern is repeated in many countries stalked by conflict and instability.

UK consumes far less than a decade ago
The amount of stuff the UK consumes has fallen dramatically since 2001, according to official government figures. The Office for National Statistics data reveals that on average people used 15 tonnes of material in 2001 compared with just over 10 tonnes in 2013. The figures look at the total amount of biomass (crops, wood and fish), coal, oil and gas, metal and non-metallic minerals (such as construction materials) used in the UK every year.

Bottling the sun: Bright brewery taps solar to be electricity self-sufficient
AUSTRALIA – A craft brewery in Victoria’s north east has taken what it describes as a first step on the path to carbon neutrality with the launch of a 50kW solar system that will supply all of the beer maker’s electricity needs.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Act on microbeads or I’ll ban them, Environment Minister Greg Hunt warns cosmetic companies
AUSTRALIA – Environment Minister Greg Hunt has threatened to introduce a law to ban microbeads, the tiny particles that are found in face scrubs and body washes, if companies do not adhere to a voluntary phase-out.

Lynfield College students get behind Seaweek in Auckland
NEW ZEALAND – Batman underwear, printers and couches are a few items you can find on a stroll at the beach. But this is something Lynfield College students want to change. The school is teaming up with Sustainable Coastlines to help clean up Auckland’s coast on March 5.

Politics and Society

Your local train station can predict health and death
The association between life expectancy and postcodes, neighbourhood locations or train stations has been demonstrated in many different locations around the world. These include London and Glasgow in the UK and across the US including California. These studies paint a powerful picture of health inequalities across neighbourhoods and cities. They also concisely communicate the importance of social determinants of health. More simply, they tell us that health starts where we live, work, learn and play.


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