Sustainable Development News

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

Professor Corey Bradshaw’s open letter to his daughter: ‘Please forgive us’
The first six months of 2016 are the warmest start to a year on record in New Zealand. Today climate scientist Professor Corey Bradshaw, who speaks at the NZ Science Festival next week, pens an open letter to his daughter to apologise for this generation’s negligence.

Energy and Climate Change

World’s biggest coal miner signs deal for 200MW solar
The world’s largest coal mining company, Coal India Limited, has announced a major step towards implementation of its ambitious solar power goals. According to a communication made by Coal India Limited to the Bombay Stock Exchange, the company has signed agreements with the Solar Energy Corporation of India for the implementation of 200 MW of solar projects in the state of Madhya Pradesh.

Queensland’s $500m Coopers Gap wind farm could be operational by 2020
AGL Energy’s proposed $500 million Coopers Gap wind farm would be constructed at Cooranga North, about 200 kilometres north-west of Brisbane in the state’s South Burnett region. It has a proposed capacity of 350 megawatts and could power 190,000 homes each year. Under the plans, up to 115 turbines would be built across 11 properties. Last month, the wind farm was declared a coordinated project and community consultation on the draft terms of reference for an environmental impact statement is currently underway.

Pacific Islands adopt new climate strategy
A new climate change strategy was adopted by small island states last week to ensure their concerns are addressed as part of the regional policy agenda. The strategy was agreed at The Small Island States of the Pacific Islands Forum by leaders from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu at a meeting last week in Palau.

Environment and Biodiversity

Will the Great Barrier Reef be gone in 35 years?
One of the world’s seven natural wonders, the Great Barrier Reef contains some 900 islands and 3,000 smaller reefs. It is larger than the UK, the Netherlands and Switzerland combined, home to around 10% of the world’s marine fish, over 200 bird species and countless other animals, including turtles and dolphins. But this iconic reef system is facing unprecedented threats. Together with governments, scientists are playing a key role in the battle to preserve this vulnerable ecosystem before it’s too late.

We can’t save all wildlife, so conservation laws need to change
We should be trying to conserve everything we can, or at least minimising the number of plants, animals and ecosystems that are lost. The problem is that Australia’s conservation laws presume that we can preserve everything in its natural state. But in a changing world, we’ll have to be more flexible than that.

Pesticide blamed for huge drop in frog numbers along Queensland coast
The head of Australia’s only dedicated frog hospital believes powerful insecticides are behind a staggering decline in frog populations along the Queensland coast. But Deborah Pergolotti, of the Cairns Frog Safe project, has struggled to drum up government and academic interest in researching the bizarre malformations she has documented in amphibians.

Four year project to protect gecko habitat
NEW ZEALAND – Protection of gecko habitat and critically threatened flora and fauna in the Orari Gorge just got a boost.  A four year project to control weeds in the gorge was given a helping hand by the Orari-Temuka-Opihi-Pareora water zone committee on Monday. Environment Canterbury (ECan) biodiversity officer Robert Carson-lles outlined the plan to wrestle back the invasion in the gorge, home to a number of threatened flora and fauna species, which he said was out of control, at the meeting at Mackenzie District Council chambers.

Kaipara to Pakiri native forest corridor reaches first milestone
NEW ZEALAND – With brand new fencing and a much loved 20 hectare patch of bush now protected from stock, Glorit farmers Scott and Phillipa Innes are beaming. The couple own a beef and sheep farm flanking the Hoteo river and are the first to take advantage of an ambitious scheme to fence off all native bush remnants along the river. The 28 kilometre long Hoteo is the longest river in the Auckland region and wends its way through farm land and native forest from near Pakiri to the Kaipara Harbour.

Finally, a proven way to keep great white sharks at arm’s length
A wearable electric shark deterrent can effectively repel great white sharks, according to our independent tests of the device. The manufacturers of the A$749 Shark Shield Freedom 7TM say it works by emitting an electric field around the wearer. This causes uncomfortable muscle spasms in sharks that swim too close and discourages them from coming into contact. Our research, published in the journal PLoS ONE, shows that the device does indeed make sharks keep their distance.

Economy and Business

Volkswagen’s record settlement payout: treating the symptom not the disease
German car maker Volkswagen is paying out up to $15.3 billion to address the effects of the emission crisis in the United States. This by far the biggest settlement in the history of the auto industry. However what happened at Volkswagen, is a symptom that of an economic system characterised by hyper-competition, enormous stakes and inflated corporate power. This system is ultimately what needs to change if they want to address the root causes of scandals like this.

Why the UN’s REDD+ Program Needs More Short-Term Focus
By Ian Lifshitz, the North American director of sustainability and public affairs for Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP).
The time has come to revisit REDD+ — the UN initiative that attempts to create financial value for the carbon locked in forests — to ensure that it is truly delivering on the momentum from Paris 2015.

Cleantech stocks outperform ASX main indices, capping off stellar three years
The Australian CleanTech Index has significantly outperformed the wider market for the full 2015-16 financial year, a new report has shown, capping off a “stellar three years” with returns of nearly 70 per cent for investors that have held the course.

The Paperless Office 101: Making a Seamless Conversion to Digital
One of the biggest trends in business for years has been the paperless office… It becomes less about green practices and more about change management, which helps the members of organizations transition and transform. After all, for an organization and its members who have long held tightly to their file folders, going paperless, even partially, is a transformation. Even government entities are doing it, so here’s how to make the conversion more seamless.

Waste and the Circular Economy

UK expedition explores potential and risks of deep sea gold rush
A scientific expedition has been launched from the UK to explore the mining of rich metal deposits on the deep ocean floor, which are the focus of a new gold rush around the world. The UK research vessel, the RSS James Cook, left Southampton on Thursday, heading for the underwater ridge in the middle of the Atlantic where volcanic activity drives hot springs, also known as black smokers. “They have left these incredibly metal-rich deposits as mounds on the sea bed, about the size of a big football stadium,” said Bramley Murton, from the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, who is leading the expedition. “The aim is see whether they are a viable source of essential metals in the future, both in terms of economics and environmental sustainability.”
[Ed: This highlights the pressing need to improve the recovery of these rare earths and precious metals from our technological devices at the end of their life.  Research in your area for facilities who will take and recycle e-waste.  We shouldn’t need to be exploring pristine environments and ecosystems with a view to exploitation while we have such a large resource already in circulation.]

SA budget 2016: Waste levy rise aimed at boosting recycling, Treasurer says
South Australia’s solid waste levy will be increased in five increments over the next four years. The South Australian Government said it would rise from $62 to $103 per tonne, as part of this week’s state budget, raising an extra $64 million in revenue. Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the money would be used help create up to 350 jobs as recycling efforts were improved.

Food Cowboy Launches New Alliance, Innovation Fund to Spur ‘Post-Food Waste Economy’
USA – Food Cowboy, which uses mobile technology to help food companies route surplus and unsaleable inventory to charities and organic waste to composters, recently announced the launch of the No Waste Promise Alliance and the Food Waste Innovation Fund. Together, the Alliance and the Fund will invest up to $75 million a year in solutions that help eliminate food waste.

Politics and Society

Too much salt and sugar and not enough exercise – why Australians’ health is lagging
The report card is in. The results are not good. Almost three in four Australian children consume too much sugar, 91.5% of young people do not meet physical activity recommendations, and Australians are among the most obese people in the world. Today we released Australia’s Health Tracker. It shows how Australia’s health is tracking in terms of preventable chronic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease, and their most common risk factors.

Flooding: the problem that will not go away
During last December and January, floods in the northern half of the UK cost insurance companies £1.3bn. Bridges and roads were destroyed, hundreds of homes and businesses were inundated, and many of these are still recovering. The government reacted by reversing earlier decisions to cut spending on flood defences and then hoped the problem would go away; but this is wishful thinking.

Education Ministry helps kids staying at Te Puea
NEW ZEALAND – The Ministry of Education has come to the tēpu – or table – to help some of the tamariki at Te Puea marae in Auckland. It’s been more than a month since Te Puea began welcoming whānau with no homes to the marae, and the mahi is continuing.

How to make your holiday better for the environment
JULY is Make Holidays Greener month – and if you didn’t know, don’t worry. Travel association ABTA has teamed up with charity the Travel Foundation to help make our holidays kinder to the planet. First on the agenda is the Big Beach Clean, involving 26 beaches around the world with clean-up events running this month. And if you can’t make any of those, below are ten other ways ABTA suggests to travel more responsibly.

VIDEOS: ‘Run For Tree’ Marathon Held To Encourage Environment Preservation
INDIA – A marathon event was organised in Goa’s Campal area on Sunday to spread awareness about the environment and encourage people to work for its preservation. Thousands of participants, wearing tees with printed slogans of ‘Save Tree-Run For Tree’ planted saplings on the occasion and later started the marathon with immense excitement.

Built Environment

Hanergy unveils solar powered “zero charge” EVs
Launched amid much fanfare in Beijing over the weekend, the four prototype Hanergy Solar cars feature varying quantities of the company’s flexible thin-film solar cells – which boast a conversion rate of 31.6 per cent – and lithium-ion battery systems allowing for 350km of range. Among the company’s claims, Hanergy says that five to six hours of sunlight should allow the cars’ thin-film solar cells to generate between 8-10kWh of power a day, allowing the car to travel about 80km on solar power alone.


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