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Monday 06 November 2017

Sustainable Development News

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

Five reasons not to spray the bugs in your garden this summer
The weather is getting warmer, and gardens are coming alive with bees, flies, butterflies, dragonflies, praying mantises, beetles, millipedes, centipedes, and spiders.  For some of us it is exciting to see these strange and wonderful creatures return. For others, it’s a sign to contact the local pest control company or go to the supermarket to stock up on sprays.  But while some insects do us very few favours – like mozzies, snails and cockroaches – killing all insects and bugs isn’t always necessary or effective. It can also damage ecosystems and our own health.

COP23

The COP23 climate change summit in Bonn and why it matters
The world’s nations are meeting for the 23rd annual “conference of the parties” (COP) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which aims to “prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”, i.e. halt global warming. It is taking place in Bonn, Germany from 6-17 November.
Ed: If you have some questions about COP23, what is going on and why, this article gives a good overview of the state of play with the Paris Agreement (the UNFCCC).  

From Miami to Shanghai: 3C of warming will leave world cities below sea level
Hundreds of millions of urban dwellers around the world face their cities being inundated by rising seawaters if latest UN warnings that the world is on course for 3C of global warming come true, according to a Guardian data analysis. Famous beaches, commercial districts and swaths of farmland will be threatened at this elevated level of climate change, which the UN warned this week is a very real prospect unless nations reduce their carbon emissions.

‘For us, the land is sacred’: on the road with the defenders of the world’s forests
Of the many thousands of participants at the Bonn climate conference which begins on 6 November, there will arguably be none who come with as much hope, courage and anger as the busload of indigenous leaders who have been criss-crossing Europe over the past two weeks, on their way to the former German capital. The 20 activists on the tour represent forest communities that have been marginalised over centuries but are now increasingly recognised as important actors against climate change through their protection of carbon sinks.

Anger over Trump support for coal at UN climate talks
Plans by the Trump administration to promote coal as a solution to climate change at a major UN meeting have angered environmentalists. An adviser to the president is expected to take part in a pro-coal presentation in Bonn this coming week.

Climate Change and Energy

U.S. Climate Assessment: Now Is the Warmest Period of Modern Times
A comprehensive new U.S. government report released today confirms the well-established science behind climate change: it is real, it is human-caused, it is happening faster than predicted and it poses a tremendous threat to America and the rest of the world. Titled the Climate Science Special Report, it is the first of two parts of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment, last published in 2014. It represents our best, most considered views of the reality of human-caused climate change. As with previous reports in this series, it does not provide policy advice, but it does indicate our most considered view of where we stand on climate change.

More:

Ausgrid turns to rooftop solar to save on network costs
AUSTRALIA – Ausgrid, one of the country’s biggest electricity network operators in Australia, is looking to install more rooftop solar as a way of saving money on network investment.  It is offering incentives of $250 per kilowatt installed to encourage the installation of solar on the rooftops of warehouses and other industrial facilities… The idea is to use the rooftop solar, along with energy efficiency, as a way to reduce grid demand and so push out the need for Ausgrid to replace that ageing network infrastructure.

Flinders Island going for green with renewable energy hub, farewells dirty diesel
AUSTRALIA – Flinders Island off Tasmania’s north-east coast has traditionally been powered solely by diesel fuel. In December, Hydro Tasmania will flick the switch over to its Hybrid Energy Hub, which will enable the island to be powered by 60 per cent renewable energy on average.

Goulburn residents take renewable energy into their own hands with solar farm
AUSTRALIA – Frustrated by a lack of interest from state and federal governments, some local communities have taken renewable energy into their own hands. In Goulburn, a group of residents and businesses has come together to build a community-funded 1.2-megawatt solar farm, with 4000 panels and the capacity to power between 350 and 500 houses in the region.

Environment and Biodiversity

Does community forest management reduce deforestation?
One of the goals of community forest management is to reduce deforestation. CEED researchers have examined whether that was the case for Indonesia’s community forestry scheme Hutan Desa (Village Forest). The study focused on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, using data from 2012 – 2016, and measured the impact of community forestry in avoiding deforestation in natural intact forest. The researchers found that, despite some factors that undermined its success at times (e.g. drought), deforestation has been avoided, and the Hutan Desa scheme has been successful.
Read the full paper HERE.

Aboriginal rangers unite to protect Australia’s largest wooded swampland in Top End
Australia’s largest wooded swampland is just part of a 12,000 square kilometre block of land in the Northern Territory that will be managed for the next decade by more than 20 Aboriginal clans under a new management plan. For centuries, Yolgnu and Bi people have protected and nurtured land around the Arafura Swamp, a hugely spiritual and pristine waterway. Traditional owners in the Central Arnhem Land region of the Top End say the protection of it is paramount to both their belief systems and economic future.
See also: ‘Smoke money’ offers an unexpected way forward for Indigenous communities

National Capital Authority employs goats to rid shores of Lake Burley Griffin of noxious weeds
AUSTRALIA – Goats are being employed by the National Capital Authority to help rid the shores of Lake Burley Griffin of noxious weeds. A herd of about 30 tame South African Boer goats will clear an area at Acacia Inlet, on the northern side of the lake, of blackberry.

Nature Photographer of the Year: 45 Breathtaking Photos of Wild Animals
In a word, the photographs we publish at National Geographic are breathtaking. Our goal is to help readers look at the world from a different perspective, and sometimes that’s through the lens of a camera. We’ve already received thousands of submissions to this year’s Nature Photographer of the Year contest, which ends Nov. 17. With the theme of wildlife in mind, we’ve curated a gallery of our favorite shots.

Great gray owl. Newport, New Hampshire, United States. Photograph by Harry Collins, National Geographic Your Shot

Great gray owl. Newport, New Hampshire, United States. Photograph by Harry Collins, National Geographic Your Shot

Could ‘bio-banking’ halt NZ’s species loss?
A new report has looked at whether “biodiversity banking” could help halt the ongoing decline of species in New Zealand’s green backyard. But the report, just released by the Environmental Defence Society, finds the approach may not be so straightforward, and much work would be needed before it could be used here. Still, its lead author, Dr Marie Brown, whose book Vanishing Nature: facing New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis also traverses the issue, said the status quo was unacceptable.

Coral bleaching badly affected reefs of Kimberley, study finds
Up to 80% of coral in inshore reefs in the Kimberley was bleached during the global mass bleaching event that also affected 93% of the Great Barrier Reef in the summer of 2016-2016, according to new research.

Up to 80% of corals in inshore reefs in the Kimberley were bleached in the 2016 El Niño heatwave. Photograph: Morane Le Nohaic/University of Western Australia

Up to 80% of corals in inshore reefs in the Kimberley were bleached in the 2016 El Niño heatwave. Photograph: Morane Le Nohaic/University of Western Australia

See also: More coral bleaching feared for Great Barrier Reef in coming months

What do Jellyfish teach us about climate change?
What do Jellyfish teach us about climate change? A lot. At least that’s what I learned after reading a very recent paper out in the journal Global Climate Change. The article, “Ocean acidification alters zooplankton communities and increases top-down pressure of a cubazoan predator”, was authored by an international team of scientists – the paper looks at impacts of climate change on life in the world’s oceans.

Economy and Business

Swan Hill solar farm secures debt funding to go “merchant”
AUSTRALIA – One of Victoria’s first large-scale solar PV farms – and one of a growing number of renewable energy projects in Australia that is being developed on a merchant basis, and without a power purchase agreement – has secured $16.5 million in debt funding… The growing number of merchant funded projects appearing in Australia’s large-scale renewables development pipeline reflects the rapidly improving economics of solar and wind energy generation, and a changing of the guard in energy markets.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Conservation from the grave…
AUSTRALIA – Have you heard of conservation burials? CEED post-doc Dr Matthew Holden suggests revenue from human burials could fund nature reserves and parks for threatened species, effectively amounting to dead humans protecting living creatures. Dr Holden said conservation burials’ would go a step further than natural burials which already occur throughout Australia.

Politics and Society

Sustainable Development Goals in Your Personal Life #SDGSandME
Today, we’re going to highlight the things you can do in your Personal life — The actions you take, the things you buy, the way you think, how you interact with your friends and family, and the vacations you take — all make an impact on the world for better or for worse. There are many things that you can do will contribute to a better world on a daily basis, and we want to show you how.

Free tertiary fees start next year, new Govt confirms
NEW ZEALAND – The Government is reiterating a promise of free tertiary fees for those planning on studying for the first time next year. Free tertiary education was one of Labour’s major sweeteners on the campaign trail. The party offered one year of free post-secondary education in 2018, and three free years by 2024. By then, the total cost of the policy would be $1.2 billion per year.

Palaszczuk says she will veto federal Adani loan as she accuses LNP of ‘smear’
The Queensland government will veto Adani’s application for a $1bn commonwealth loan to build a rail line for its massive Carmichael mine, Annastacia Palaszczuk has said. Palaszczuk said the dramatic move, amid her campaign for re-election, came in response to what she believed was a federal Coalition plan to “smear” her and her partner, Shaun Drabsch, over his role in Adani’s loan application to the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (Naif).
See also: Adani mine: Annastacia Palaszczuk’s loan veto decision ‘jeopardises mine project and jobs’ | ABC News

Why are talks over an East Antarctic marine park still deadlocked?
Last week, representatives from 24 countries plus the European Union met in Hobart to discuss plans for a vast marine protected area (MPA) off the coast of East Antarctica.  The proposed area, spanning almost 1 million square km, is crucial for a vast array of marine life. Scientists, conservationists and governments have been pushing for the protection of this area for upwards of seven years. Why, then, has the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to deliver, despite having agreed similar protections for other areas of the Southern Ocean?

EPA’s new science advisers add more industry experts, conservatives to the mix
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appointed more than five dozen new scientific advisers to the agency Friday, a move that is likely to shift the EPA’s research objectives as well as the recommendations that form the basis for key regulations over the next few years. Pruitt has placed 66 new experts on three different EPA scientific committees, many of whom hail from industry or state government, and espouse more conservative views than their predecessors.

Built Environment

How Cities Can Harness the Good—and Avoid the Bad—of the New Mobility Movement
In late September, London made headlines when it stripped popular ride-hailing app Uber of its license to operate in the city. The wall-to-wall coverage that followed the decision was a sign, if any more were needed, that we are on the cusp of an urban mobility revolution.

Turf wars: Manicured lawns kill ecosystem – but we’re not ready to shut off mowers
Kiwis have spent hundreds of years razing the forests to replace them with grassy meadows for our sheep and cattle, and lush green English-inspired lawns to surround our homes. Now, the great Kiwi pastime of lawnmowing has come under attack from ecologists who say it is hurting the environment. Listen: you hear the roar of a thousand motor mowers this Sunday morning? Those may yet fall silent.

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