Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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I really like First Dog on the Moon and today’s top story, well, cartoon, is a good summary of all the craziness going on around Australian and US politics. Hopefully it will make you laugh when you want to cry. In other news, an IPCC lead author is hopeful but not optimistic on keeping global warming to 1.5oC, with examples of progress in the UK out-pledging the EU on car emission reductions and Denmark banning the sale of fossil fuel powered cars by 2030; a ban on commercial fishing across the Arctic has been signed; and five ways to reduce waste when you renovate. Back in Australia, an area three times the size of the ACT has been cleared in the Great Barrier Reef catchment of the last five years; a Liberal MP says fossil fuels protect us and not to worry about climate change; and charities spend a lot of money getting rid of unsuitable donations as fast fashion encourages a throw away mentality.

Top Story

‘Are the US and Australia declaring climate war on all of Earth? You make it sound so final’ | First Dog on the Moon | The Guardian
After Australia cynically releases its catastrophic climate data the day before grand final weekend, Ian the Climate Denialist Potato holds a press conference

Climate Change

‘Reasons to be hopeful’ on 1.5C global temperature target | BBC News
Dutch scientist Dr Heleen de Coninck is one of the co-ordinating lead authors of the forthcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on 1.5C which will be released next Monday in South Korea. Speaking to the BBC before the start of the negotiations in Incheon, she explained what her role involves and why, despite the enormous climate challenge facing the world, she believes there are some hopeful signs.

Related: Leaked US critique of climate report sets stage for political showdown in Korea | Climate Home News

MEPs vote for 40% cut in car emissions by 2030 | The Guardian
UK – MEPs have voted for a 40% cut in car emissions by 2030, in a rebuke to more cautious proposals by the European commission that signals tough negotiations with national governments ahead. Germany has strongly opposed any increase to the 30% cut in CO2 output proposed by the European commission, although countries such as France have yet to reveal their position. While the MEPs’ target – along with a 20% milestone agreed for 2025 – would still overshoot the Paris agreement’s objective of holding global warming to 1.5C, it was welcomed by the Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout.

Denmark embraces electric car revolution with petrol and diesel ban plan | Reuters
Denmark has proposed a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030 and hybrid from 2035, joining international efforts to promote electric-only vehicles to reduce air pollution and combat climate change.

Environment and Biodiversity

Great Barrier Reef: forest three times size of ACT cleared in past five years | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – New official data shows clearing of forests near and along the Great Barrier Reef continued despite Australian government pledges to protect the natural wonder, with at least 152,000 hectares felled in 2016-17 alone. Forests covering 770,000ha – an area about three times the size of the Australian Capital Territory – in the reef catchment zone have been bulldozed over the past five years. The area cleared last year was larger in size than that covered by new re-growth.

Commercial fishing banned across much of the Arctic | The Guardian
Commercial fishing will be banned across much of the Arctic under a new agreement signed on Wednesday in Greenland, closing down access to a vast area of sea that is newly opening up under climate change. The moratorium on Arctic fishing will safeguard an area about the size of the Mediterranean for at least the next 16 years, as warming temperatures allow summer navigation across what was previously ice.

The new ban is one of the first steps to bring legal protection to the Arctic’s fragile environment as it opens up to vessels as the climate warms. Photograph: PO2 Nate Littlejohn/USCG/Alamy

The new ban is one of the first steps to bring legal protection to the Arctic’s fragile environment as it opens up to vessels as the climate warms. Photograph: PO2 Nate Littlejohn/USCG/Alamy

Economy and Business

Trump’s Import Tariffs Will Make U.S. Wind Power More Expensive | Bloomberg
USA – President Donald Trump’s trade war won’t wreck the U.S. wind industry, but it will raise the cost of power. Tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese imports, as well as on metals from Europe and elsewhere, could raise the cost of wind power in the U.S. by as much as 10 percent, Tom Kiernan, chief executive officer of the American Wind Energy Association, said at a conference in New York. Executives from three of the world’s top turbine manufacturers agreed.

Kiwi entrepreneurs on a mission to bring Dignity to girls in school and woman in the workplace | Sustainable Business Network
NEW ZEALAND – Periods. Time of the month! Menstruation. The average woman has more than 450 periods in her lifetime, and along with the physical and emotional effects, there is a financial cost associated with it – estimated at $5000 for each woman over her lifetime. As TVNZ has reported this year, there are Kiwi families who have to keep their daughters home from school when they can’t afford sanitary items. Women and girls should not be facing preventable barriers to education and/or work.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Five ways to reduce waste (and save money) on your home renovation | The Conversation
On average, renovating a home generates far more waste then building a new one from scratch. This waste goes straight to landfill, damaging the environment. It also hurts your budget: first you have to pay for demolition, then the new materials, and then disposal of leftover building products. By keeping waste in mind from the start and following some simple guidelines, you can reduce the waste created by your home renovation.

Charities spending millions cleaning up fast fashion graveyard | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Charities want consumers to think twice before making an impulse buy at a fast fashion store after new figures reveal it is costing millions of dollars to send unusable donations of cheap clothing to landfill. “If you wouldn’t lend it to a friend, or give it to a friend … don’t donate it,” Omer Soker from the National Association of Charitable Recycling Organisations (NACRO) said. Cheap, mass-produced clothes are often in no shape to be handed down so Australian charities are forced to dispose of them and new figures reveal that is having a devastating impact on their budgets. Australian charitable recycling organisations are spending a staggering $13 million per year sending unusable donations to landfill.

Photo: Textiles donated to Australian charities are often destined for landfill. (ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)

Photo: Textiles donated to Australian charities are often destined for landfill. (ABC News: Amy Bainbridge)

New Zealand ‘seriously lagging behind’ on deposit schemes to reduce rubbish |
NEW ZEALAND – Some Kiwis remember finding bottles for pocket money as early as the 1960s – now they’re tossed as worthless rubbish. Advocates say it’s possible to bring bottle-deposit schemes back, replacing pollution with a solution. But the Ministry for the Environment says it’s too early to say if they would work in New Zealand again.

[Ed: It’s worth noting that almost all states and territories in Australia have in place or have a plan to introduce container deposit schemes.]

Politics and Society

‘Fossil fuels protect us’: Liberal backbencher tells party not to worry about climate
AUSTRALIA – Craig Kelly, a prominent Liberal Party backbencher, has told party members in Sydney they should not worry about climate change and that fossil fuels were among the reasons “we are so safe”.



ARENA goes behind the meter, as consumers rush to solar, storage, EVs | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The Australian Renewable Energy Agency has announced a new focus on making the best use of Australia’s record breaking rooftop solar uptake – and its impending battery storage and electric vehicle booms – as one of the major frontiers of an increasingly renewables dominated grid… The program, will see major energy industry bodies collaborate on a “whole variety of things” to drive the success of distributed energy: from virtual power plants, access to data, markets for distributed energy resources, demand response, rule changes, to network restraints.

Related: Schott: NEG not quite dead, and could be revived | RenewEconomy

Built Environment

NABERS report: Boost for indoor, hospital, and shopping centre ratings | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – The uptake of the NABERS rating system by shopping centres, the indoor environment and hospitals have gone through the roof according to the national Australian rating system’s annual report. Released on Wednesday, the report confirmed the growing interest in health and wellbeing in the built environment, with the number of buildings using the Indoor Environment rating tool increasing by 32 per cent from the year before.

Food Systems

The new normal? How climate change is making droughts worse | The Guardian
For people suffering from lack of income, both in town and farm, drought is awful and relentless as each day dawns an overwhelming blue. Often communities get so focussed on surviving from day to day, it is difficult to see a bigger picture. While the consequences of drought for regional communities don’t change, the conversations about it are changing, centring more and more on best management in a changing climate. What if this is the new normal?

Part Two: ‘This drought is different’: it’s drier and hotter – and getting worse | The Guardian

An olive grove on Sommariva station, owned by Karen McLennan and her son Michael McLennan. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian

An olive grove on Sommariva station, owned by Karen McLennan and her son Michael McLennan. Photograph: Mike Bowers for the Guardian