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Tuesday 04 September 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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As Australia reels from the leadership spill, caused by disagreements over energy policy, California is committing to 100% renewable energy by 2050. In supporting news, the ABC states renewables are cheaper than coal. Full stop. If you’re trying to make sense of all that’s going on in this world, we have some interesting and useful articles on fake news, denialism and how to pick the facts where there is conflicting information.

Top Story

California’s response to record wildfires: shift to 100% clean energy | Dana Nuccitelli | The Guardian
USA – In America today, it’s rare to see political leaders respond to a threat with an appropriate evidence-based policy solution. At the national level, more often we see actions that aggravate existing problems or create new ones. California – the country’s most populous and economically powerful state – has been a welcome exception.

Percentage of California’s electricity generated by renewables (black) and zero-carbon sources (gray) to date, based California Energy Commission data. The previous renewable target is shown in blue and targets under SB 100 in green. Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli

Percentage of California’s electricity generated by renewables (black) and zero-carbon sources (gray) to date, based California Energy Commission data. The previous renewable target is shown in blue and targets under SB 100 in green. Illustration: Dana Nuccitelli

Climate Change

Espinosa: Urgent action needed to avoid ‘catastrophic’ climate change | Business Green
The UN’s climate chief Patricia Espinosa has warned the world is heading for “catastrophic” climate change unless governments do more to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Speaking to Reuters ahead of crunch climate talks taking place this week in Bangkok, Espinosa said the world is unlikely to meet its collective target of limiting global warming to “well below” 2C without more ambitious national goals.

Related: Bangkok Climate Talks: Time to Deliver Real Progess on the Paris Agreement Rulebook | World Resources Institute

Brexit may weaken climate change regulation in the UK | Climate Action Programme
UK – Environmentalists have accused the government of weakening regulation on the environment as we prepare to leave the EU. Despite Theresa May’s pledge last year to create a “world-leading, independent, statutory body” to ensure Ministers stick to their climate change commitments, the UK watchdog will hold no power when it comes to climate change post Brexit.

Environment and Biodiversity

Angling for a marine park: poll finds support for coastal protection | SMH
AUSTRALIA – Support for the Berejiklian government’s proposed Sydney marine park reaches as high as 90 per cent in four coastal electorates, a result supporters hope will counter opposition from angler groups. A ReachTEL poll of almost 2600 people in four coastal electorates conducted for the NSW Nature Conservation Council last Monday found 89 per cent support in Manly and 87 per cent in Coogee. Backing exceeded three-quarters in Gosford and Terrigal.

Related: Liberal MP backs fishing community over Premier’s plans for NSW marine park | ABC News

Globally endangered shark could be ‘wiped out’ by commercial fishing: researcher | ABC News
The population of the globally endangered scalloped hammerhead shark is rapidly declining, and getting killed on baited drumlines is only the beginning of the animal’s woes. It is also highly sought-after in Asia for shark fin soup, and its numbers have declined up to 80 per cent in north Queensland since the 1960s, largely to due commercial fishing. In Australia, the shark is caught in recreational and commercial line fisheries, in gillnets, trawler nets and as by-catch in the Queensland shark control program.

Peruvian villagers face murder and intimidation from land traffickers | The Guardian
PERU – Land invaders turned their attention to Chaparrí six years ago when plans to build La Montería reservoir dangled the promise of water resources in a desert-like environment – raising the possibility of agricultural expansion in the protected area. To date, 28 individuals opposing the plans have been threatened, and last year 10 cases of suspicious forest fires were reported in Chaparrí. According to the head of Peru’s supreme court, Duberlí Rodríguez, more than 1,000 hectares of the area have been affected by land grabbers – deforested, burned and illegally cultivated.

2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year highly commended | The Guardian (In pictures)
An Asian sheepshead wrasse, wild dogs and a pygmy goby are just a few of animals featured in the photos shortlisted for this year’s competition.

Glass-house guard by Wayne Jones, Australia. Highly commended, Underwater On the sandy seabed off the coast of Mabini in the Philippines, a yellow pygmy goby guards its home – a discarded glass bottle. It is one of a pair, each no more than 4 centimetres (one and a half inches) long, that have chosen a bottle as a perfect temporary home. The female will lay several batches of eggs, while the male performs guard duty at the entrance.

Glass-house guard by Wayne Jones, Australia. Highly commended, Underwater On the sandy seabed off the coast of Mabini in the Philippines, a yellow pygmy goby guards its home – a discarded glass bottle. It is one of a pair, each no more than 4 centimetres (one and a half inches) long, that have chosen a bottle as a perfect temporary home. The female will lay several batches of eggs, while the male performs guard duty at the entrance.
Photograph: Wayne Jones/2018 Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Economy and Business

Change is happening – and young people are leading the way forward | World Economic Forum
Now more than ever, people under the age of 30 are demonstrating the power of open, participatory and collective action. Rather than waiting for big social problems to be solved by government action, young people are adopting a do-it-ourselves ethos, actively shaping systems and structures to meaningfully include and empower more people.

Outerknown launch sustainable S.E.A. jeans | Climate Action Programme
UK – The clothing brand has added to their vast eco-friendly clothing line with the launch of their new sustainable jeans. The S.E.A Jeans, standing for Social and Environment Accountability, are made from organic cotton and are on sale for around £130, depending on the design. The production of the cotton uses 90 per cent less water compared to regular cotton used for jeans. Not only are they sustainable, but they have a ‘lifetime guarantee’ which means that if the jeans break or get damaged they will be fixed by Outerknown for free. If they are unrepairable than they will be replaced.

World Bank announce first sustainable water bond | Climate Action Programme
The World Bank have launched a Sustainable Development Bond series to raise awareness of the importance of ocean resources. The international financial institution has plans to raise $3 billion to protect oceans and marine life. The World Bank have introduced the water bond, along with gender, health and nutrition bonds, to give investors opportunity to work towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set in 2015.

Lego to ban plastic blocks by 2030 | Climate Action Programme
Lego has announced plans to stop the production of plastic blocks by 2030. The Lego shapes will alternatively be made from plant-based materials in an attempt to reduce plastic waste. The Danish company are set to release their new eco-friendly line consisting of 25 various brick shapes that will resemble nature-inspired products.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Call to recycle more farm plastic waste | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – Sellers of Agricultural plastics such as silage wrap are being urged to take responsibility for their products once they become waste. Two national schemes were already doing this, but Plasback programme manager Chris Hartshorne estimated a recovery rate of only about 30 per cent for all farm plastic.

Politics and Society

Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth | The Guardian (Podcast 33:49)
From vaccines to climate change to genocide, a new age of denialism is upon us. Why have we failed to understand it?

Lies, ‘fake news’ and cover-ups: how has it come to this in Western democracies? | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The Liberal leadership spill and Malcolm Turnbull’s downfall is but the latest instalment in a game of musical chairs that has dominated Australian politics for the best part of a decade. For many, it has been enough to portray Tony Abbott as the villain of the story. Others have pointed to Peter Dutton and his allies as willing, though not-so-clever, accomplices. There’s also been a highlighting of the herd instinct: once self-serving mutiny gathers steam, others will want to follow. But this barely scratches the surface. And the trend is not confined to Australia.

Disempower far-right climate change deniers. Don’t debate with them | The Guardian (Opinion)
After a long, hot summer beset by record temperatures, drought and deadly fires, imagine my shock, on returning to the European parliament, to be confronted with a report that denies the reality of climate change. Given it could influence the allocation of the next round of environment funding under the EU’s Life programme, it is deeply disturbing to see such a report, based on wholly discredited science, wending its way down the corridors of Brussels.

Confused about who to believe when information clashes? Our research may help | The Conversation
“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening,” Donald Trump, the president of the United States, once said at a rally. There is no doubt that we have entered a new age of bewilderment in which it is harder than ever before to decide where the truth lies.

Google at 20: how a search engine became a literal extension of our mind | The Conversation
We are losing our minds to Google. After 20 years, Google’s products have become integrated into our everyday lives, altering the very structure of our cognitive architecture, and our minds have expanded out into cyberspace as a consequence. This is not science fiction, but an implication of what’s known as the “extended mind thesis”, a widely accepted view in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience.

Energy

The reality is new coal power is not the answer for cheaper electricity bills | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – It’s a fact. The cold, hard numbers show that new renewable energy is supplying cheaper electricity than new coal-fired power plants could and will continue do so. No less an authority than the Australian Energy Market Operator agrees. In a recent report, based on deep, sophisticated modelling, it looked at the most economical way to replace our fleet of ageing coal plants as they retire. “The lowest cost replacement for this retiring capacity and energy will be a portfolio of resources, including solar (28 gigawatts), wind (10.5 GW) and storage (17 GW and 90 GWh), complemented by 500 megawatts of flexible gas plant and transmission investment,” it said.

European Commission ditches tariffs on Chinese solar imports | Business Green
The European Commission has decided to lift controls on Chinese solar panels entering the EU market in a move likely to see the availability of lower cost panels improve across the bloc. As was widely expected, the Commission announced late last week it will scrap minimum import price (MIP) rules from midnight tonight.