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Thursday 06 April 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Quite a bit of politicking today, starting with a US postulation that capitalism is being rejected by younger voters.  In Australia, things are heating up over the future of energy; renewables appear to be the most cost effective solution but the politics is cloudy.  In New Zealand, the government will need to negotiate backlash over a new policy to favour public transport and road safety over building more motorways, particularly in Auckland, while Wellington is already on that bus. Don’t miss some important environment stories about the failing Murray-Darling water agreement and the threat of the wasp in NZ.

Top Story

Today’s youth reject capitalism, but what do they want to replace it? | The Conversation
USA – Today’s youth are increasingly unhappy with the way their elders are running the world.  Their ire was most recently expressed when thousands of teenagers and others across the country marched on March 24 demanding more gun control, a little over a month after more than a dozen of their peers were shot and killed at a high school in Parkland, Florida. But there’s growing evidence that today’s young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 29 or so, are strongly dissatisfied with other fundamental aspects of our political and economic system. Specifically, growing numbers are rejecting capitalism.

Environment and Biodiversity

Murray-Darling: when the river runs dry | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Winding through four states, the Murray-Darling and its tributaries have turned dry flat plains into some of Australia’s most productive farmland. The river system also waters important wetlands that provide shelter and breeding grounds to migratory birds and native fish. And, for tens of thousands of years, the rivers have provided spiritual and physical sustenance to Indigenous people who live along their banks. Yet our great river system is under stress. The Murray-Darling basin plan was introduced in 2012 to tilt the balance back towards the environment. With $13bn in funding, the plan attempts to recover water diverted to irrigation and restore flows. Five years in, our leading scientists say the plan is failing to restore the rivers’ health.

Palm oil development in Papua bypassing pledge, says NGO | Radio NZ News
INDONESIA – An environmental NGO has accused a major palm oil company in Indonesia’s Papua province of failing to honour the spirit of a moratorium on new forest clearing. Last year, Korindo, a South Korean-Indonesian joint venture, announced a moratorium on forest clearing in its oil palm concessions, after international pressure against its practice of burning Papuan rainforest. But Deborah Lapidus of the NGO Mighty Earth told Johnny Blades that while Korindo is adhering to its pledge on its palm oil area, it has since been proceeding with rampant forest clearance on an adjacent logging concession.

Can NZ ever be free of the ‘vulgar’ wasp? | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – Around the world and within New Zealand over the last few years, there has been a growing movement to reconsider exotic species and biological invaders. Should we really try to control or eradicate species, or perhaps just accept them as part of a “new world”? I think accepting species is probably fine if they don’t do “harm”. Wasps, however, do substantial harm to our biodiversity, economy and health.

The whales who love to sing in the dark | BBC News
Beneath the Arctic sea ice, in the blanket of January’s polar night, bowhead whales most prefer to sing. While the songs of humpback whales have long received the most attention, it turns out that their baleen cousins could have a far greater repertoire. A study of a bowhead population near Svalbard has shown that their musical calls may be as varied as those of songbirds. This would make them unique among whale populations, and possibly even mammals.

Economy and Business

Shell threatened with climate lawsuit in the Netherlands | Climate Home News
NETHERLANDS – Friends of the Earth Netherlands sent a formal letter to the company today, outlining the steps the campaigners believe Shell must take to bring its business plan in line with the global climate goals as set out in the Paris Agreement. The legal action was started after Shell announced it planned to continue to put around 95% of its investments into extracting more oil and gas. It expects to invest only around 5% in sustainable energy.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Food-scrap bin collection starts in Auckland | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – Auckland Council has rolled out thousands of food-scrap bins in its campaign to get food out of the rubbish. The average household rubbish bag or bin is almost half filled with food waste. Each year, Auckland households send about 90,000 tonnes of food scraps to landfills. A new food scraps collection service has began for about 18,000 properties in Papakura. Auckland Council general manager waste solutions Ian Stupple said about 25 tonnes of food scraps were being collected each week from Papakura.

Politics and Society

Greens urge end to coal by 2030, as Turnbull begs AGL for crumbs | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The Australian Greens have abandoned efforts to have a carbon price, and instead have favoured an interventionist approach to the energy sector, including mandating the exit of coal generation by 2030, and the banning of petrol cars by the same date…  at the same time, the mining lobby and its new voice in the Coalition, the so-called Monash Forum, is pushing to protect centralised, polluting energy system through its own form of government intervention – a taxpayer-funded coal plant – to keep the industry going another 50 years.

Related:

Wellington: NZ’s most sustainable city? | Sustainable Business Network
NEW ZEALAND – Sustainable activity is burgeoning among businesses in the capital. Is this New Zealand’s most sustainable city for businesses? Does your city measure up? We’ve been struck by an acceleration in sustainable activity in Wellington recently. The capital is setting a high bar for other regions to follow. So we’re setting a challenge. If your city can match this hive of sustainable business activity, let us know!

A rail Government vs a motorway Opposition | newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – The coalition Government just made its politically riskiest move, Bernard Hickey writes. It announced a surprise tax hike that will make provincial drivers help pay for new rail tracks in Auckland.

I’m suing Scott Pruitt’s broken EPA – here’s how to fix it | The Conversation
USA – In 2017, just a few days after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, a freshman GOP lawmaker with only a few days on the job of his own, proposed House Resolution 861. Its language was ominous: “The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018.” I was in my sixth year on the EPA’s Science Advisory Board when H.R.861 was introduced. When I called senior EPA colleagues to assess the threat, I was assured that it would never happen; the nation’s environmental laws, and the agency that makes and enforces them, could not be killed in two years by a 10-word resolution written by a rookie congressman. Then along came Scott Pruitt.

Built Environment

How Did Shenzhen, China Build World’s Largest Electric Bus Fleet? | World Resources Institute
CHINA – Diesel buses—and the choking smog they spew—are a common sight in most cities. But not in Shenzhen, China. The southeastern city, which connects Hong Kong to mainland China, announced at the end of last year that all of its 16,359 buses had gone electric. The city’s buses are the world’s first 100 percent electrified bus fleet, and its largest—bigger than New York’s, Los Angeles’s, New Jersey’s, Chicago’s and Toronto’s electric bus fleets combined. How the city overcame obstacles like high costs, lack of charging station infrastructure and more provides lessons for other cities looking to electrify their bus lines.

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