Dedicated to finding a path to sustainable development

Friday 06 November 2015

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Top Story

Australia can prosper and protect the environment at the same time, CSIRO
New modelling by the CSIRO has found Australia can enjoy strong economic growth without damaging the environment, provided new technology and policies are embraced. The research, published in the journal  Nature on Thursday, presented 20 scenarios involving economic growth and environmental change in Australia. Lead researcher Steve Hatfield-Dodds said Australia could make “great progress towards sustainable prosperity” without a shift in societal values if it decided to. “This is a head-on argument with those people who put forward the view we cannot have economic growth and environmental sustainability at the same time,” he said.

Study: Australians can be sustainable without sacrificing lifestyle or economy
A sustainable Australia is possible – but we have to choose it. That’s the finding of a paper published today in Nature… As part of this analysis we looked at whether achieving sustainability will require a shift in our values, such as rejecting consumerism. We also looked at the contributions of choices made by individuals (such as consuming less water or energy) and of choices made collectively by society (such as policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions). We found that collective policy choices are crucial, and that Australia could make great progress to sustainability without any changes in social values.

Energy and Climate Change

US giant enters Australia market to take suburbs off the grid
The energy offshoot of US asset management giant Brookfield has signed a deal with property group LWP to build a new suburb near Newcastle that will not connect to the grid, in a move that could be a blueprint for more such development and shapes as one of the biggest challenges to the incumbent energy industry yet.

AGL adds two new, larger battery systems to energy storage suite
AUSTRALIA – Electricity retailing giant AGL Energy has expanded its residential battery storage range, with the launch on Thursday of two new, larger battery systems at 11.6kWh and 19.4kWh, catering to customers with bigger rooftop solar systems and with greater levels of energy consumption. The new offerings come just four months after the gentailer surprised the market with the launch of its 7.2kWh Powerlegato battery system – made by its Taiwanese partner AU Optronics – at what appeared to be heavily discounted price of less than $10,000 each.

SunEdison Wins 500 MW Solar PV Bid In India At Record-Breaking Tariff
US-based renewable energy project developer SunEdison has set a new Indian record for lowest tariff bid for solar photovoltaic power plant… While a number of companies participated in the auction, SunEdison secured the entire 500 MW capacity. The company placed a bid of Rs 4.63/kWh (US¢7.12/kWh). For the first time in India, a company secured a winning bid of lower than Rs 5.00/kWh (US¢7.7/kWh). In fact, as many as 10 companies quoted a bid below Rs 5.00/kWh while a total of 15 companies placed bids below Rs 5.50/kWh (US¢8.5/kWh). The 500 MW auction was oversubscribed 10.5 times. A total of 30 prospective project developers submitted bids for a total of 5.5 GW capacity.

Fonterra under pressure to stop using coal
NEW ZEALAND – The heat is going on Fonterra to not use coal to power any of its new milk drying boilers. The dairy giant, which is now New Zealand’s second largest industrial user of coal, is planning a new drying plant at Studholme, South Canterbury, which will run four boilers on coal. Coal Action Network is working in tandem with activist digital community ActionStation to force Fonterra to switch power sources. An open letter from ActionStation to Fonterra chairman John Wilson has been signed by 2500 people. It is calling on Fonterra to pledge not to build new coal-fired boilers, and move to wood waste for fuel as its existing boilers are phased out. Coal Action Network, fronted by former Greens co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons, said Fonterra had increased its coal use by 38 per cent since 2008.

How climate change influenced Australia’s extreme weather in 2014
Scientists have linked climate change to several extreme weather events that hit Australia last year, including city melting heatwaves, record hot spring temperatures and the sweltering conditions that greeted the G20 meeting in Brisbane. They are part of a series of new studies – published in a special edition of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society – examining the emerging scientific area of extreme weather “attribution”

Paris 2015: UN Conference on Climate Change

COP21: what it is and why it matters
While often referred to as COP21, the Paris summit is more properly called COP21-CMP11 – the 21st Conference of Parties as well as the 11th meeting of the parties to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change. The goal is to strengthen the foundation of the UNFCCC by establishing new targets for reducing emissions. The expectations are immense given the importance of taking global action against climate change and accelerating the transition to a low-carbon world.

Environment and Biodiversity

It’s swarm season for bees – but there’s nothing to fear
NEW ZEALAND – Honey bees are swarming this spring, but people have nothing to fear from this natural phenomenon. Bees usually swarm when their hives get too full. They create a new nucleus queen and leave it in the hive and just before the new queen hatches, the old queen and hive leave.

Stop the miners: you can help Australia’s birds by planting native gardens
Some Australian birds are pushing out other species, and even damaging trees. Noisy and bell miners are two of Australia’s most aggressive bird species. Found throughout eastern Australia, in recent years their numbers have increased at the expense of our smaller birds. Both species are spreading to new areas, largely due to human destruction of habitat. Noisy miners are able to invade areas where habitat has been modified, particularly gardens. Bell miners, meanwhile, can invade areas that have invasions of weeds in the understorey such as blackberry and lantana that they use for nesting. The good news is we can help stop the spread of these birds, by putting native plants in our gardens.

‘This is a rapid collapse’: Catastrophe for native bird
Poor or non-existent pest control has caused a catastrophe for one of New Zealand’s beloved native bird species, conservationists say. Dr Luis Ortiz-Catedral of Massey University said a lack of pest control in Northland was largely to blame for the disappearance of kakariki, the native red-crowned parakeet. Last week, Forest and Bird released drone footage of decimated native Northland forests, also blaming inadequate pest control for the destruction of many native trees.

Coming this summer: wasp wipeout
NEW ZEALAND – Conservationists are abuzz about a new weapon in the war on wasps. The new poison, which after successful trials will be unleashed on the pest insects this summer, won a World Wildlife Fund Conservation Innovation Award this week. In beech forests wasp numbers can reach up to 10,000 per hectare. Colonies target native birds and honeybees and in swarms can even threaten human lives.  See also: Grants for innovation in conservation

Economy and Business

Thomas Piketty proposes flight tax to raise climate funds
Air travel should be taxed to protect the world’s vulnerable from drought, flooding and sea level rise. A €180 ($196/£130) levy on business class tickets and €20 on economy class would raise the estimated €150bn a year needed for climate adaptation. That is one proposal by French economists Lucas Chancel and Thomas Piketty to address global inequalities between high-polluting individuals and the victims of climate change.

Paris 2015: Australian corporate giants sign up for action on climate
More than a dozen of Australia’s largest companies including BHP Billiton, Westpac and Origin Energy, have signed up to take long-term action on climate change. The firms have joined more than 250 global corporations, boasting more than $US5.6 trillion ($7.7 trillion) in annual turnover, that have agreed on steps such as putting a price on carbon and buying 100 per cent of their electricity from renewable sources.

CBA vows to go green with new policy to tackle climate change
AUSTRALIA – The Commonwealth Bank has promised to put more emphasis on climate change when it is lending money and investing, as it acknowledged the need for greater investment in renewable energy to combat global warming. The country’s biggest bank on Thursday released a two-page policy signed by chairman David Turner that supported efforts to tackle climate change and limit temperature rises to no more than 2 degrees. National Australia Bank, the country’s biggest business lender, also supported international efforts to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees. However, it is not clear how CBA’s policy may affect its lending to large fossil fuel projects – if at all. CBA is one of the country’s largest lenders to the resources sector.

How the Trans-Pacific Partnership Will—and Won’t—Protect Wildlife
On the first Monday in October, the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries announced they’d reached an agreement on a sweeping free-trade deal that’s been in the works since President Barack Obama’s first term. On Thursday, the final text became public. The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s goal is to make trade among these countries easier. But there’s one type of trade the countries are expected to restrict: the illegal wildlife trade.

Starting Your Green Freight Journey: Steps 1 and 2
Logistics can be a sustainability manager’s “secret weapon,” because this theater of operations often gets passed over. It’s easy to think addressing logistics will be too complicated, given that most of the emissions are from equipment owned and operated by suppliers (i.e. scope 3). But freight operations often sit in the top five contributors of greenhouse gas emissions at any given corporation, so there are rich pickings to be had here.

Prince Charles weaves campaign to promote NZ wool
From 1850 to the turn of the 20th century, wool was New Zealand’s leading export product;  today it is in 18th place with annual earnings of $752 million. But wool is fighting back. Since 2010 HRH The Prince of Wales has spearheaded the global Campaign for Wool to convince people of its superiority over synthetic fibre. New Zealand farmers, who except for merino growers, do not have a homegrown organisation promoting wool,  are benefiting from the campaign, which they help to fund.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Wealth in waste? Using industrial leftovers to offset climate emissions
More than a billion tonnes of potentially toxic, bleach-like waste is produced and piled in landfills every year, with often devastating effects. And yet most people haven’t even heard of these “alkaline wastes”. We want to change this. Our research has identified nearly two billion tonnes of alkaline residues that are produced in the world each year, most of which can contaminate groundwater and rivers if not proper managed. We should be doing much more about the problem – these wastes can even be put to good use.

Planet Ark Australian Recycling Label takes the guesswork out of rubbish night
Beer bottle caps, biscuit packets and Pringles tubes all have two things in common: they should not end up in the recycling bin, and yet that is where most Australians dispose of them. They are just three examples of the guesswork most Australians still face when it comes to taking out the trash. The issue has led Planet Ark to launch a standardised, evidence-based recycling label specifically for Australia.
[Ed: Includes a handy list of common items and whether they can be recycled and, importantly, why.]

Politics and Society

Tax is not the only barrier to businesses buying electric cars – AA
NEW ZEALAND – The Green Party is proposing tax breaks for businesses which purchase electric fleet vehicles and support employees to use public transport, but the AA says there are other barriers.  Transport spokeswoman Julie Anne Genter, alongside Green Party co-leader James Shaw, launched a bill which would exempt electric company vehicles from fringe benefit tax. It would also exempt public transport passes provided by employers to staff.

Food Systems

Report: Serious Risks to UK Food System If We Don’t Embrace ‘Business Unusual’ Approach to Food
What will our food system look like 10 years from now? According to a new report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a sustainable, secure UK food system will depend on industry and government action to reframe issues and innovate. The waste-reduction charity predicts there will be new business opportunities in protein supply, data-enabled technology, and food designed for nutritional requirements.

Insects should be part of a sustainable diet in future, says report
Insects should become a staple of people’s diets around the world as an environmentally friendly alternative to meat, according to a report by the UK government’s waste agency. But persuading consumers to overcome “the yuck factor” will be a key issue, says the report by the Waste and Resources Action Programme (Wrap) which assesses challenges to the development of the food system in the next 10 years. The problem of supplying the UK’s population with a nutritional and sustainable protein supply will be “one of the defining challenges of the coming decades”, says the report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.