Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Yesterday was World Environment Day (woops), so our top story has six big, massive really, ideas to save the environment within the constraints of our current capitalist system. Further on you can read an article about Karl Marx’s ideas for the world and his focus on the environment. We have a few articles on #beatplasticpollution, the theme of this year’s World Environment Day, and it seems to be working with countries around the world moving to eliminate single use plastics; India has set the standard with a ban by 2022.

Top Story

Here are 6 big ideas to help the environment | World Economic Forum
Sometimes the news about our environment can feel a little monotonous. We read the same old headlines about how important the environment is, how the situation is getting worse, and how ‘we’ (whoever that is) need to do something about it. On World Environment Day 2018, it’s time to inject some hope and inspiration into the mix. It’s time to ‘go big’ and work together to transform current thinking and operating models, especially since it’s now clear these models have not worked well enough, and have often only produced incremental change. In that spirit, here are 6 big ideas that could create a more sustainable relationship between our economic markets, natural environment, and communities.

On World Environment Day 2018, it’s time to inject some hope and inspiration into the mix. Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

On World Environment Day 2018, it’s time to inject some hope and inspiration into the mix. Image: REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

Climate Change and Energy

We CAN build a carbon-neutral world by 2050. Here’s how | World Economic Forum
Is a carbon-neutral world possible by 2050? Yes. Will it happen? Again, yes. No politician will be able to ignore the social and economic pressures as climate impacts become more severe – but the longer it takes, the more expensive it will become. Governments, states, cities, businesses and investors know this.

Hawaii signs law to become carbon neutral by 2045 | BusinessGreen
USA – Hawaii has set the most ambitious climate goal in the US after it signed a bill to become carbon neutral by 2045 on Monday. The state also signed a bill mandating sea level rise be factored into review processes for building projects, and a bill to restore the states’ forests for carbon offsets. Hawaii already has some of the most rigorous climate policies in the US, including a mandate to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2045 and a law to uphold the Paris Agreement.

Queensland’s biggest wind farm approved, may add solar and storage | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The federal renewable energy target may well be considered met by analysts and regulators, but the number of huge wind and solar projects in the development pipeline continues to rapidly expand. The latest is the 800MW Clarke Creek wind farm in central Queensland, which has received development approval from the state government, and could be built alongside a 400MW solar farm that has also received planning approval, and battery storage. The $1 billion project (that’s for the wind component) is located around half way between Rockhampton and Mackey, in the Isaac regional council, and is adjacent to major transmission lines.

Environment and Biodiversity

Coral decline in Great Barrier Reef ‘unprecedented’ | The Guardian
A steep decline in coral cover right across the Great Barrier Reef is a phenomenon that “has not been observed in the historical record”, a new report by the Australian Institute of Marine Science says. The institute, Australia’s government-backed marine research agency, periodically releases results of a long-term reef monitoring program. Each reef along the Queensland coast is visited by researchers every two years to assess its condition and coral cover.

Reef monitoring program shows northern section has lost half of its coral cover

Reef monitoring program shows northern section has lost half of its coral cover

Bob Brown: the next big battle for Tasmania is The Tarkine | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – For a built environment that’s turning increasingly towards timber as a sustainable and biophilic material, the battle to save The Tarkine/takayna rainforests is an environmental campaign closer to the bone than most. We all know the Great Barrier Reef is crying out for help against imminent threats from the proposed Adani coal mine, and that it has already suffered damage thanks to poor land management practices and global warming. But in Tasmania the scale of proposals for the majestic takayna or Tarkine forests in the north-west of the state offer equally dramatic horror global footage. The scale of beauty and rare wilderness of The Tarkine is evident in a film produced on behalf of the Bob Brown Foundation and the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre.

Economy and Business

“Unprecedented” numbers of investors call for climate action | The Fifth Estate
A global coalition of 288 institutional investors with US$26 trillion (AU$34.1 trillion) in assets under management, including 23 Australian investors with close to $2 trillion in assets, have issued a call to leaders at the G7 meeting in Canada this week to step up action on climate change. The 2018 Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change was delivered to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and G7 government leaders.

E-mail: Three-wheeling posties herald electric future | RenewEconomy
Australia Post is making a slow, but steady shift to electric delivery vehicles, starting with the two-wheeled variety, and with an innovative all-electric three-wheeled scooter that can carry three times more letters and parcels than a regular postie motorbike. The company – which has also conducted a couple of very small-scale trials of electric delivery vans with car maker Renault – on Tuesday released its inaugural Environmental Action Plan for 2018-2020.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Communities Unite against Plastic pollution on World Environment Day | World Environment Day
Communities around the world came together today [5 June] for the single largest annual celebration of our environment – World Environment Day. This year, under the theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’, people were encouraged to take a critical look at their own relation to single-use plastic, and make real efforts to break their dependency on disposable plastic. World Environment Day will mark the culmination of a global campaign from the United Nations to raise awareness and inspire action on plastic pollution.

Are you breathing plastic air at home? Here’s how microplastics are polluting our lungs | World Economic Forum
Research shows that many of the microplastics in our bodies come from the air we breathe – not just from drinking bottled water or eating fish from polluted oceans. Due to their small size, microplastics can be inhaled and may induce a wide range of diseases including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer. More than 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year. Half of that plastic becomes trash in less than a year. Out of the plastics produced, only 9% is recycled; the remaining 91% enters the air, land and water as waste.

India will abolish all single-use plastic by 2022, vows Narendra Modi | The Guardian
India will eliminate all single-use plastic in the country by 2022, prime minister Narendra Modi has announced. The pledge is the most ambitious yet of the global actions to combat plastic pollution that are taking place in 60 nations around the world. Modi’s move aims to drastically stem the flow of plastic from the 1.3 billion people living in the fastest growing economy in the world.

A plastic bag hangs on the horns of a cow as it sifts through rubbish for food in New Delhi, India. Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA

A plastic bag hangs on the horns of a cow as it sifts through rubbish for food in New Delhi, India. Photograph: Rajat Gupta/EPA

Families around the world join war on plastic | The Guardian (In pictures)
To celebrate World Environment day, Reuters photographers met people from Athens to Singapore trying to play their part as the war on plastics becomes a key political topic.

Eri Sato (right) with her husband Tatsuya and three-month-old daughter, Sara. “We’ve switched to reusable bottles and shampoo bars. Our toothbrush is made from bamboo”

Eri Sato (right) with her husband Tatsuya and three-month-old daughter, Sara. “We’ve switched to reusable bottles and shampoo bars. Our toothbrush is made from bamboo”

Man begins six-month swim through ‘Great Pacific garbage patch’ | The Guardian
A French anti-plastic campaigner has begun a six-month journey to swim through the giant floating rubbish mass known as the Great Pacific garbage patch. Ben Lecomte, who has previously swum across the Atlantic Ocean in 1998, left the shores of Choshi in Japan on Tuesday morning, heading east. The 50-year-old plans to swim from Japan to San Francisco in 180 days, covering 8,000km. His journey will take him through 1,600km of the garbage patch, in an attempt to raise awareness about plastic pollution.

Downer set to transform road waste into dollars | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – More than 21,000 tonnes of the waste hitting Sydney streets each year is set to be turned into sellable products, following the opening of a new detritus facility in Sydney’s Western Suburbs. Operated by road infrastructure company Downer, the Rosehill detritus processing facility will take waste streams such as street sweepings and stormwater and convert it into usable materials like organic matter, sand, gravel, metals and plastic.

Politics and Society

The 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals: an all-new visual guide to data and development | The World Bank
We’re pleased to release the 2018 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. With over 180 maps and charts, the new publication shows the progress societies are making towards the 17 SDGs. It’s filled with annotated data visualizations, which can be reproducibly built from source code and data. You can view the SDG Atlas online, download the PDF publication (30Mb), and access the data and source code behind the figures.

What Karl Marx has to say about today’s environmental problems | The Conversation
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and an economic shift in China it seemed that capitalism had become the only game in town. Karl Marx’s ideas could safely be relegated to the dustbin of history. However the global financial crash of 2008 and its aftermath sent many rushing back to the bin. For good or ill, the German philosopher’s ideas have affected our world more profoundly than any other modern social or political thinker.

Using human suffering as a political tool | World Economic Forum
From Syria to Yemen, from South Sudan to Venezuela, war and political crisis are causing human anguish on a scale unseen in a generation. That conflict and crisis take a high human toll is hardly new, of course. Yet the scope of suffering today is striking. The number of people displaced globally by conflict and persecution stood at 65.6 million at the end of 2016, the greatest number since World War II.

Four myths about homelessness: voices from a tent city | The Conversation
Seattle recently declared a state of emergency on homelessness and is expanding legally sanctioned tent cities, setting it apart nationally and globally. Seattle’s Tent City 3 is the oldest sanctioned tent encampment in the US… Between 2012 and 2018, Seattle Pacific University has hosted Tent City 3 three times. During their stays we conducted interviews with over 60 residents. The data challenges what we think we know about the causes of homelessness and the character of the people who experience it.

Food Systems

Australia’s large fish species declined 30% in past decade, study says | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – The number of large fish species in Australian waters has declined by 30% in the past decade, mostly due to excessive fishing, a new study says. Marine ecology experts are calling for changes to fisheries management after publication of the study by scientists from the University of Tasmania and the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney. The decade-long study used data from diving surveys by three different bodies – the Australian Institute of Marine Science, the University of Tasmania and Reef Life Survey, a supervised citizen science group – to compare trends in fish populations in unprotected marine areas, protected areas that allow for some fishing, and protected areas that prohibit fishing.