Tuesday 07 November 2017
Sustainable Development News
Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Five things that should happen at the Bonn climate talks but probably won’t
If the Paris Agreement is to be anything other than a farce, it must avoid the sort of design which needs heroic politicians parachuting in once every five years. Rather, it needs countries to pay attention, to continue working patiently, revising and improving their strategies to “bend the curve” on emissions and deal with the mess that climate change is already causing. Here then are five things that should happen.
Bonn climate talks must go further than Paris pledges to succeed
Talanoa is a Fijian term for discussions aimed at building consensus, airing differences constructively, and finding ways to overcome difficulties or embark on new projects… Talanoa will be the founding principle of the conference, the means by which Fiji hopes to break through some of the seemingly intractable problems that have made these 20-plus years of negotiations a source of bitter conflict.
Bonn climate talks will aim to meet goals laid out in Paris, says UN
The UN hopes to create an “operating manual” for implementing the Paris agreement on climate change, with talks in the next two weeks in Bonn. “We want to advance further, faster, together to meet the goals set out in the Paris agreement,” said Patricia Espinosa, the UN’s chief official on the climate, at the opening of the talks.
Climate Change and Energy
2017 is set to be among the three hottest years on record
The year isn’t over yet, but we can already be sure that 2017 will be among the hottest years on record for the globe. While the global average surface temperature won’t match what we saw in 2016, it is now very likely that it will be one of the three warmest years on record, according to a statement issued by the World Meteorological Organization.
South Australia’s stunning transition to consumer-powered grid
South Australia is already being hailed – or in some quarters demonised – for its leadership on renewable energy technology. But a new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator highlights how far out front it is in the tradition to a consumer-powered grid. The new AEMO report highlights that 9.2 per cent of the electricity generated in the state over the last financial year came from small-scale (sub 100kW) of solar PV on the rooftops of households and businesses in the state.
See also: How South Australia turned the Feds’ energy policy on its head
China wind giant buys 100MW wind project in NSW
The international lure of Australia’s large-scale renewable energy market has been demonstrated once again, after a 100MW wind farm, proposed for development in the Southern Tablelands region of NSW, was snapped up by a China-owned company late last week.
Environment and Biodiversity
Hydroelectric dams threaten Brazil’s mysterious Pantanal – one of the world’s great wetlands
The Pantanal in central South America may not be as globally famous as the Amazon rainforest, but it has the continent’s highest concentration of wildlife. Now, however, the region’s endangered plants and animals, along with its still undiscovered secrets, may be wiped out in return for cheap hydroelectricity.
Indigenous forests could be a key to averting climate catastrophe
More bad news: the world’s tropical forests which helped store human carbon emissions until the start of the 21st century, may no longer be carbon sinks. Researchers at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts recently determined that tropical forests could have experienced a net loss of around 425 million tons of carbon between 2003 and 2014, largely the result of deforestation and forest degradation.
Plundered Waiheke Island coastline needs protection, says scientist
NEW ZEALAND – Marine reserves are needed to restore the ocean environment around Waiheke Island, which has been degraded by over-fishing, says marine ecologist Tim Haggitt. A report has just been released after Haggitt and his colleagues from eCoast spent several days making an underwater survey of the coast from Matiatia to Enclosure Bay on Waiheke Island in December 2016.
Predator-Proof Nests May Help Save Endangered Parrots
AUSTRALIA – They’re a swift parrot’s worst nightmare: cute but deadly sugar gliders. As deforestation on the island of Tasmania spreads to accommodate growing agriculture and logging industries, the region’s critically endangered swift parrot population has dwindled to a mere 2,000. In addition to losing access to the massive 250-foot trees where they lay their eggs, swift parrots have had a more difficult time evading the resilient population of sugar gliders.
Red squirrels successfully reintroduced to north-west Scottish Highlands
UK – Red squirrels, a species previously lost from their native woodlands, have been successfully returned to the north-west Highlands, early results of a reintroduction project show. The new population has naturally expanded since they were reintroduced to north-west Scotland last year.
Economy and Business
China’s largest ride-hailing company to build its own electric vehicles charging network
Didi Chuxing has announced the establishment of a joint venture to build its own charging network for public use and for its growing electric cars fleet. The Chinese company already operates a fleet of more than 260,000 electric vehicles on its operations, which include a ride-hailing app, and taxi, minibus and car rental services. Along with the announcement of the construction of an EV charging network, the company also revealed that it aims to increase the amount of EVs within its fleet to 1 million by 2020 – an increase of 75 percent in three years.
Dairy farming critic Alison Dewes appointed Landcorp environment head
NEW ZEALAND – Veterinarian and ecologist Dr Alison Dewes has been appointed as Landcorp’s head of environment, a new position within the state-owned enterprise. For the last two years the Waikato-based Dewes has been a member of Landcorp’s Environmental Reference Group (ERG), which also includes dairy critics such as Dr Mike Joy and Guy Salmon.
Waste and the Circular Economy
150 Organizations Call for Ban on ‘Biodegradable’ Plastic Packaging
For several years, oxo-degradable plastic packaging was hailed as one solution to cope with mounting pollution and overwhelmed municipal waste stream… But today, 150 various organizations, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, have announced that the science suggests that these plastics are contributing to, not alleviating, the micro-plastic pollution damaging ecosystems worldwide.
Endangered hawksbill turtle dies after eating 106 pieces of plastic
NEW ZEALAND – An endangered hawksbill turtle that died after 13 days of intensive care had 106 pieces of plastic in its stomach. Auckland Zoo veterinarian Lydia Uddstrom said the turtle was the fourth hawksbill to be treated at the zoo this year after eating plastic. Two others had died, and the remaining one was still being rehabilitated.
Can upcycling really help the oceans?
When oil prices drop, as they have in recent years, recycling profits plummet. In most countries, it’s cheaper to simply make new petroleum-based plastic goods than turn the ones used once into the same items again. That’s led to a dismal recycling rate of just 9 percent worldwide, and an enormous buildup of plastic in the ocean, according to a recent study on global plastic production. But as recycling rates drop and ocean pollution worsens, many innovators are taking marine debris, a notoriously unrecyclable material, and turning it into useful items.
New Life for Denim: Post-Consumer Waste Jeans
Many upstream textile producers, like Artistic Fabric & Garment Industries in Pakistan are stepping up to reduce the impact of their business. Check out their efforts to close the loop.
Politics and Society
Is it time to retune our mindsets? | John Elkington
A mindset is a damn fine thing, humming away in the back of each of our brains, channeling realities, dialing up certain wavelengths — and tuning out frequencies that could drown us in background noise. But equally, poorly tuned mindsets can endanger our grip on reality, overwhelming our senses with static. Once in place, mindsets are hard to reboot in any one individual, although normal service can be disrupted by stress, breakdowns or drugs. But every so often — as when our TVs shifted from analog to digital broadcasting — it is our collective mindset that needs retuning. And that’s where we find ourselves today, as I was reminded during a particularly challenging Cambridge Union debate in October.
How telling the right stories can make people act on climate change
The latest UN Climate Change Conference since the 2015 Paris Agreement is taking place in Bonn between November 6-17 – and the world will be watching. The conference will be presided over by the government of Fiji, a country that is no stranger to the devastation that climate change brings… Yet… doomsday narratives are counterproductive, dangerous … and wrong. We can survive climate change. There is something simple and concrete that each of us can do. Telling and sharing stories, from the scientific to the personal, is one of our most important tools. However, they are different stories than the Fijian one.
Actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau of Game of Thrones on Climate Change in Greenland, the Maldives
The tricky thing about climate change, and explaining what it is, is that it’s very hard to see. It’s hard to feel the rising temperatures when the difference is one- or two-tenths of a degree a year. But those tenths of degrees add up. And this year, I visited two remote and very different parts of the world where the effects of climate change are easily visible to the naked eye and eerily similar.
How India’s battle with climate change could determine all of our fates
According to an ambitious pledge by India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, every Indian will have electricity, and the education, health and business benefits that follow, by the end of 2018. But how Modi achieves that, and the development of what will soon become the world’s most populous nation, matters to the entire world.
Ed: Note that this includes using coal from the Adani owned Carmichael mind in Queensland, Australia… if that goes ahead.
Emails reveal officials probing environmental and financial concerns with Adani super-mine
AUSTRALIA – Senior officials considering lending public money to develop Australia’s biggest coal mine have known for months of environmental and financial concerns surrounding the proponent Adani, internal emails reveal. The emails, obtained under freedom of information laws, have fuelled the mine’s opponents, who say granting the $900 million loan would pose unacceptable risks to taxpayers and the Commonwealth.
It’s time to put children’s health before pesticides (Opinion)
Our children are growing up exposed to a toxic cocktail of weedkillers, insecticides, and fungicides. It’s on their food and in their water, and it’s even doused over their parks and playgrounds. Many governments insist that our standards of protection from these pesticides are strong enough. But as a scientist and a lawyer who specialises in chemicals and their potential impact on people’s fundamental rights, I beg to differ.
We have every reason to fear Trump’s pick to head Nasa | Dana Nuccitelli
USA – Unlike past Nasa administrators, Trump nominee Jim Bridenstine doesn’t have a scientific background. He’s a Republican Congressman from Oklahoma and former Navy pilot. He also has a history of denying basic climate science. That’s concerning because Nasa does some of the world’s best climate science research, and Bridenstine previously introduced legislation that would eliminate Earth science from Nasa’s mission statement.
Powerful lawmaker wants to ‘invalidate’ the Endangered Species Act. He’s getting close.
USA – The congressman who said he “would love to invalidate” the Endangered Species Act is closing in on his goal. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) recently shepherded five bills out of the Natural Resources Committee he chairs that would dismantle the law piece by piece. Many Republicans on the panel say the proposals are necessary changes that would modernize the 1973 law. Democrats and conservationists say the bills would whittle away the law’s ability to save wildlife from extinction.
Joining in the fungi: black truffle grown in UK for first time
An expensive Mediterranean black truffle has been cultivated in the UK for the first time, the farthest north that the species has been found. Researchers believe the truffle, mostly found in northern Spain, southern France and northern Italy, was able to grow in Wales due to climate change.