Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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The EU is spending 25% of its finances on climate change adaptation and mitigation and people are saying this is still not enough, in our top story today.  This is very telling for Australia who still can’t agree on any action.  In other news Bill McKibben is currently touring Australia and has presented a plan to transition Australia to 100% renewables; and car manufacturer Jaguar Land Rover says Australia needs to implement policies to smooth the transition to electric vehicles in what may be an otherwise bumpy ride.  A plan is needed for a clean energy transition and living in a hotter climate transition.  Many reports are now coming out showing the financial cost of delaying action.  The climate is certainly getting hotter.

Top Story

EU plans to massively increase spending on climate change | Climate Action Programme
The European Commission has put forward its future budgetary plans, which include spending a quarter of its entire finances on tackling climate change. Under the new proposals, covering the period between 2021 and 2027, a total of €320 billion will be spent on climate adaptation and mitigation, an increase of €114 billion.

Climate Change and Energy

Campaign launched to reach 100% renewables in Australia | Climate Action Programme
A new report has laid the groundwork for Australia to become a clean energy superpower, taking advantage of its plentiful supplies of wind and sunshine to reach 100 percent electricity from renewables. The Plan to Repower Australia, released on Thursday by environmental activist Bill McKibben, provides a blueprint for the ‘sunburnt country’ to reach an entirely fossil fuel free power system by 2030.

Future sailors: what will ships look like in 30 years? | The Guardian
International shipping accounts for more than 2% of global carbon dioxide emissions, roughly the same as aircraft. But the 2015 Paris agreement to fight climate change left control of the shipping industry’s emissions to the International Maritime Organisation.  While environment groups applauded the agreement to cut hard and deep by 2050, they pointed out that it falls far short what is technically achievable. A report published just before the meeting by the International Transport Forum (ITF), a thinktank run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), found that the industry could achieve up to 95% decarbonisation as early as 2035 using “maximum deployment of currently known technologies.”

Environment and Biodiversity

‘Rarest’ ape’s path to survival blocked by roads, dams and agriculture | Mongabay
Even as scientists introduced the world to a new species of orangutan in 2017 — one of only seven non-human great apes alive today — they were already working to pinpoint the threats that might lead to its demise. In a new study published today in the journal Current Biology, a team of scientists reports that road expansion, agricultural conversion and a planned hydropower project could destroy more than one-quarter of the Tapanuli orangutan’s existing habitat. With no more than 800 individuals, the world’s rarest ape species could face extinction not long after we became aware of its existence.

Rare Australian species could slip into extinction as jobs axed at environment department | ABC News
Australia’s most threatened species could slip into extinction without anyone noticing, with jobs being slashed at the federal Department of Environment, the ABC can reveal. The department is losing up to a third of its staff who work to stop Australia’s world-leading and accelerating extinction rate, documents obtained by the ABC show. Those cuts come as the first national review of threatened species monitoring found about one third of the 548 species were not being tracked at all.

Global Forest Watch GLAD Alerts Help Protect Sumatra’s Leuser Rainforest Ecosystem | World Resources Institute
Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem, on Sumatra’s northern end, is the world’s third-largest rainforest after South America’s Amazon and Africa’s Congo. Spread across 6.5 million acres (over 2.6 million hectares), the Leuser rainforest and surrounding ecosystem is the last place on Earth where rhinos, elephants, tigers, sun bears and orangutans live in the wild. Located in the Indonesian province of Aceh, which was the focus of international recovery efforts after the devastating 2004 tsunami, the Leuser Ecosystem has more recently been in the global spotlight as it faces a different environmental challenge.

Economy and Business

Musk plays the vision thing, vents at myopic analysts, media | RenewEconomy
Clearly, Elon Musk is getting frustrated. Tesla, the company he founded has become a household name, and a phenomenally successful company, on the quality of its products – electric vehicles and battery storage – and the audacity of the vision thing that has captured the imagination of the public, and the market.

Jaguar warns Australia it trailing badly on electric vehicles | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – British car maker Jaguar Land Rover has called on the Australian government to “do its bit” in driving electric vehicle uptake, or risk putting the nation even further behind the global pace, while also missing a major economic and environmental opportunity. Drawing a parallel with the so-called “energy crisis” currently plaguing the National Electricity Market, JLR Australia head Matthew Wiesner said the shift to EVs would happen with or without government backing, but would be much smoother – and more beneficial – with the right policies in place.

Can the World Bank ‘sell’ anticorruption? | Devex
The World Bank should “sell anticorruption” to countries that want to attract more private investment, according to the institution’s integrity chief. As the bank turns more of its attention and resources to crowding private sector dollars into development finance opportunities, the institution has an opportunity to make the business case for cracking down on corruption, said Pascale Hélène Dubois, the bank’s vice president for integrity, on Wednesday.

Green Climate Fund may ask donors for a refill in 2019 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
The Green Climate Fund, set up to help developing countries tackle climate change, could seek to refill its coffers in 2019, a year which is likely to see “a huge amount of attention on climate finance”, said the fund’s executive director. Howard Bamsey, a former Australian diplomat, said the fund could reach the trigger point for its replenishment process later this year if the share of available funds it has allocated for projects reaches 60 percent.
Related: Climate change aid to poor nations lags behind Paris pledges | The Guardian 

Investing for good cheerleader sees interest rising down under | Thomson Reuters Foundation
NEW ZEALAND – Despite the pristine landscapes brought to mind by successive Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand’s environmental problems are driving interest in impact investing, according to a leading advocate for the growing ethical finance trend. It could cost up to NZ$36 billion ($25 billion) to fulfil, New Zealand’s obligations by 2030 under the Paris climate change agreement, which seeks to limit global temperature rises, said David Woods of a new board to develop impact investing. “If you had to fund that out of the tax base it would be pretty substantial,” said Wood, deputy head of the National Advisory Board (NAB) on impact investing, which was set up last month to steer strategy and governance of the emerging market.

Hobbiton Movie Set adopts initiatives to become more sustainable |
NEW ZEALAND – Tourists at Hobbiton Movie Set will only leave behind their footprints – not their waste – after they visit the popular Waikato attraction. Over the past year, Hobbiton, near Matamata, has been making a shift towards sustainability with its “going green” initiative. Takeaway coffee cup packaging has been switched to a compostable alternative and general daily waste is sorted and composted.

Tourists who visit Hobbiton Movie Set will now leave behind only their footprint, as the attraction has made major efforts to be more sustainable. Photo: Hobbiton Movie Set

Tourists who visit Hobbiton Movie Set will now leave behind only their footprint, as the attraction has made major efforts to be more sustainable. Photo: Hobbiton Movie Set

Waste and the Circular Economy

The biggest problem with e-waste? What we don’t know.
Even though that e-waste contains billions of dollars’ worth of precious metals and other valuable components, just 20 percent was officially tracked and properly recycled in 2016, according to the new report. The remaining 80 percent? It’s not consistently documented, and most of it is likely dumped, traded or recycled in haphazard, potentially harmful ways. When disposed of incorrectly, for instance by open burning, e-waste can harm people and the environment.

Politics and Society

The ALP promises to phase out live sheep export | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The Labor party has pledged that in government it would phase out the live sheep trade, but has not tied itself to a specific timetable. The undertaking represents another stage in the toughening of Labor policy on the issue. The opposition had a bipartisan approach a few weeks ago. Then it called for the northern summer trade – now underway – to be suspended until the government receives the report it commissioned after pictures were aired on TV showing appalling shipboard conditions. The report is due in a fortnight. It is expected to recommend stronger rules rather than ending the trade.

Government commission – get off oil and go plant trees | Sustainable Business Network
NEW ZEALAND – The Productivity Commission has produced a report mapping its view of a low carbon economy for New Zealand. We save you 500 pages of reading and give you the key points that could reshape our nation. The Productivity Commission is an independent Crown entity. It’s made up of a small team of economics and policy experts. It provides advice to the Government on improving productivity.

Net-zero carbon require serious innovation | newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – The Productivity Commission’s report about transitioning to a low-emissions economy was released last Friday and made it very clear that carbon prices need to be considerably higher than current levels – possibly over $200 per tonne – if the existing emissions trading scheme is going to put New Zealand on a path towards a low carbon economy.

Time for more government leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals? | Sustainable Business Network
NEW ZEALAND – Last month the SDG Summit in Wellington included representatives from across the New Zealand economy. Among the ideas raised was a call to have a government commissioner for the Goals.

Jacob Anderson: Eight easy ways you can change habits to help the planet | NZ Herald
Many people feel like [social, environmental and political] problems are too big or too hard for them to make a difference. To make a difference our day to day habits just need a little tweaking. This is not some dramatic change in our lives though. For the most part we don’t have to give anything up or change our lifestyle. Here are eight simple things you can do to play your part every day.

Built Environment

Melbourne’s ‘doughnut city’ housed its homeless | The Conversation
Revitalisation projects aimed at increasing residential populations in inner urban areas since the 1980s have resulted in almost wholesale expulsion of the marginally housed. The now mythic “doughnut city” that Melbournians became so embarrassed about, and so proud to repopulate, was in fact a city that housed its homeless. Infrastructure Australia’s recent report, Future Cities: Planning for our growing population, doesn’t mention homelessness once. This is sadly typical of major urban policy statements in the past few decades, many of which have championed inner-city renewal.

Australia’s green building floor space has boomed | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – In 2006 less than one per cent of Sydney and Melbourne’s CBD commercial floorspace was certified green. Twelve years later we’re sitting at 46 per cent for Sydney and 28.8 per cent for Melbourne. The figures, revealed in CBRE and Maastricht University’s first International Green Building Adoption Index (IGBAI), put the two Australian cities at third and fourth in the world for green-certified floor space, behind Canadian cities Vancouver (at 51.6 per cent) and Toronto (at 51 per cent).

Are things finally getting moving for Auckland’s transport? | Sustainable Business Network
NEW ZEALAND – After decades of slow or no progress on smart transport in New Zealand’s largest city, there’s a wave of new activity. So are we now on the right track?

Food Systems

Another problem with China’s coal: Mercury in rice | The Conversation
CHINA – Mercury pollution is a problem usually associated with fish consumption. Pregnant women and children in many parts of the world are advised to eat fish low in mercury to protect against the adverse health impacts, including neurological damages, posed by a particularly toxic form of mercury, methylmercury.  But some people in China, the world’s largest mercury emitter, are exposed to more methylmercury from rice than they are from fish. In a recent study, we explored the extent of this problem and which direction it could go in the future.


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