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Thursday 02 November 2017

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Top Story

Got Climate Questions? Climate Watch Has Answers
Negotiators and stakeholders headed to Bonn, Germany, for next week’s UN climate summit continue to confront a range of questions surrounding one essential query: How do we meet the imperative to lower greenhouse gas emissions now — quickly — to minimize the most severe impacts of climate change? To address this challenge, World Resources Institute and partners launched Climate Watch, a new data visualization platform.

Climate Change and Energy

Why Purchasing Voluntary Carbon Offsets is a ‘Good Buy’
It’s the depressing truth about travel these days: It isn’t cheap — at least not when it comes to carbon in the environment. That super deal your friend found when she flew to and from Paris last summer still contributed at least a couple of tonnes of CO2… High quality carbon offsets can help individuals and organizations reduce their environmental impact.

Editorial: Drilling for fossil fuels not worth the costs of climate change
NEW ZEALAND – A headline trumpeting the possibility of $32 billion in royalties makes the news of a larger than projected Barque oil and natural gas field off the North Otago coast sound appealing. And that is the point. New Zealand Oil and Gas (NZOG), the operator of the Clipper joint venture where the Barque prospect is situated, is trying to build  support for possible underwater exploratory drilling, which it needs to decide on by April next year or surrender its permit.  But dig a little deeper and the numbers are not quite as rosy.

Wu: Six Questions on Asia’s Energy Transition
In the space of those two years, the energy transition has moved into full swing in Asia, with power markets liberalizing, renewable energy integration a topic of heated debate and governments forced to legislate the right energy mix in order to balance environmental and security concerns. In clean energy, Asia-Pacific is about to record its fifth successive year of substantially out-investing both the Americas and Europe, Middle East and Africa. This rapid progress is leading people to ask some uncomfortable questions about the next phase.

The US signs an agreement with Denmark to boost cooperation on offshore wind
In an unexpected turn of events, the US and Denmark have signed a new cooperation agreement to further the expansion of offshore wind in North America.

Environment and Biodiversity

Endangered whio ducklings hatch at Auckland Zoo, will soon attend duckling ‘boot camp’
NEW ZEALAND – Auckland Zoo is in a flutter after successfully breeding the rare native whio, or blue duck, for the first time in five years. The five-strong brood, or “paddling” to use the technical term, are just over a week old. While the ducklings are all fuzz and cuteness now, over coming weeks they’ll get strong enough to head off to a duckling “boot camp” at a Department of Conservation (DOC) facility down country.

The ducklings will eventually be released into the wild to help boost the nationally vulnerable species. Photo: Auckland Zoo.

The ducklings will eventually be released into the wild to help boost the nationally vulnerable species. Photo: Auckland Zoo.

New low flow limits on Tukituki River have community facing ‘a real tragedy’
NEW ZEALAND – The very real effects of improving the water quality of the Tukituki River are about to bite and farmers and the community they support are not ready. It was discovered nearly a decade ago that the river’s water had been over-allocated and this was leading to its poor health over summer. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council brought in a plan change in late 2015 that would see the minimum flow levels increase, meaning irrigators would need to cease taking water when the river got down to a higher level than previously.

Canterbury whitebaiters found using detergent to clear water for fishing
NEW ZEALAND – Whitebaiters have been using detergent to clear water they are fishing in, Environment Canterbury (ECan) says. Enforcement officers have found whitebaiters discharging detergent and cooking oil into rivers around Canterbury, including the Avon River in Christchurch and the mouth of the Orari River in South Canterbury.

Octopuses invade Welsh beach – here are the scientific theories why
A beach in Wales recently faced an eight-armed invasion. Over 20 octopuses were reportedly seen crawling up New Quay beach on the west coast of the country, with many later being found dead after failing to make it back to the sea.

Economy and Business

Scottish pub chain BrewDog launches ‘Make Earth Great Again’ beer
Multinational brewery and pub chain BrewDog has launched a limited edition beer with the name ‘Make Earth Great Again’ to challenge the US’s government’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. James Watt, one of BrewDog’s co-founders explained: “Make Earth Great Again is a reaction to declining interest from notable world leaders to the biggest issues facing our planet and civilisation”.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Hunter Valley council sheds light on Australian recyclables being sold to Asia
AUSTRALIA – A Hunter Valley Council has told a Senate inquiry that most of its recyclable waste is sold to China, but it said it felt uneasy telling ratepayers. The inquiry is focussed on the quantity of solid waste generated and the rate of diversion of solid waste for recycling. In addition it will look at the accreditation and management of landfills, the extent of illegal landfilling, and the role of landfill levies in determining the end destination of material.

Communities take control of their plastic footprint
AUSTRALIA – Communities across Australia now have access to a “how to” guide to reduce plastic pollution in their parks, playgrounds, rivers and beaches… This new initiative, announced at the Beyond Plastic Pollution conference in Darling Harbour, aims to move beyond the first step of implementing plastic bag bans to address other forms of disposable plastics like coffee cups, straws and takeaway containers.

Thousands of turtles, marine animals victims of plastic fishing nets polluting Gulf of Carpentaria
Plastic fishing nets, some the size of football fields, are washing up on Australia’s northern coastline, slowly killing endangered turtles and creating a “global hotspot” for plastic pollution. Ben Pearson from World Animal Protection told a national plastic pollution conference that the Gulf of Carpentaria was being afflicted by so-called ghost net pollution.

Photo: The Gulf of Carpentaria has some of the largest sea turtle nesting areas in the Indo-Pacific region. (Supplied: Jane Dermer)

Photo: The Gulf of Carpentaria has some of the largest sea turtle nesting areas in the Indo-Pacific region. (Supplied: Jane Dermer)

‘Pick up your garbage’: Angler pleads with litterbugs after finding pinched pike
An angler’s appeal for people to pick up their garbage has gone global after he shared photographs of a wild fish deformed by a discarded plastic ring from a bottle of sports drink.

Photo: Adam Turnbull said he thought at first the pike had been injured by another fish. (Facebook: Adam Turnbull)

Photo: Adam Turnbull said he thought at first the pike had been injured by another fish. (Facebook: Adam Turnbull)

This edible packaging will make you reconsider seaweed
The company, one of six recently recognized at the culmination of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Design Challenge for “new plastics,” is testing a variety of packaging applications for bioplastics made from seaweed farmed in Indonesia waters. “Our mission is to decrease the use of plastic, especially in packaging,” said Edwin Aldrin Tan, Evoware co-founder and the Jakarta-based organization’s business development and financial advisor. “At the same time, we’d like to increase the seaweed livelihood in our country.”

Politics and Society

Charities fight Coalition’s attempt to limit advocacy
Australian development and aid charities have joined forces to fight government moves expected to limit their ability to advocate for policy changes, passing a strongly worded motion at an annual conference to kick off a concerted campaign by the sector. The Coalition will introduce legislation to parliament in the coming weeks that will ban or limit the use of donations from overseas for advocacy in Australia.

We need new fairy stories and folk tales to guide us out of today’s dark woods (Book)
Folk tales emerge in times of upheaval, and from societies’ grimmest moments. They enable us to process and assimilate extreme experience, and deal with our fears. They also, typically, communicate powerful and uncompromising moral narratives. It’s not hard to draw a map of current major global problems with reference to them. The most powerful kingdom in the world, for example, falls into the hands of a ruler who is equal parts the insatiable, comfortless greed of Midas, and the vanity of Narcissus, who disdains those who love him, and the self-delusions of the naked emperor. Remind you of anyone?

Leading Global Palm Oil Supplier Announces Labor Reform
For both food and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies worldwide, palm oil has proven to become one of the largest headaches within their supply chains. Many of these problems have been found with palm oil growers, producers and suppliers, as many NGOs have accused them of multiple human rights violations and unchecked deforestation.

Built Environment

How to calculate the wellbeing benefits of plants
Adding plants to walls and roofs is all the rage in commercial property as a way to improve indoor environment quality. Now new research by RMIT and the University of Melbourne has quantified the effects of plants in the home – with an app developed to help users calculate the benefits of adding particular plants to a room.

OPINION: In the wake of disaster, we must keep nature in mind
Three record-breaking hurricanes recently cut a swath of devastation through the Caribbean and southern United States. The economic and human toll has dominated the headlines, and rightfully so… Providing those still in need with emergency food, water and shelter must be our top priority. But over time, as attention shifts from the immediate humanitarian response to fully assessing the social, economic and environmental impacts of the disaster, we need to keep nature in mind.

Higher density in a flood zone? Here’s a way to do it and reduce the risks
We are starting to understand we will be hit by ever-increasing storms and floods. The risk is especially high in years when La Nina makes her appearance. We also know good urban design can reduce the impacts.

Enviros and Developers: A Love Story
This was at least the eighth time that Scott Wiener sat through the same PowerPoint presentation, and he was beginning to wonder what the heck was going on. It was 2009, and Wiener was an environmentalist and LGBT-rights activist who had become president of his neighborhood association in San Francisco’s Castro district. Developers were presenting plans for a bunch of apartments atop a Whole Foods — and it seemed like a good idea to Wiener. The development would replace a vacant Ford showroom, it was on a transit line, and it would be designed by deep-green architect William McDonough+Partners.

But before they could build, they had to have meetings — so many meetings!

What public transit can learn from Uber and Lyft
New technologies and business models can inspire us to reconsider how we move through society. “Sharing economy” companies use digital technologies to connect customers who want something with people offering it directly – in the case of Uber and Lyft, transportation services. Applying this approach to public transit offers new solutions to mobility problems. “Uberizing” public transit services – bringing them to customers on demand – can transform our approach to transportation issues.

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