Sustainable Development News

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

Paris climate agreement comes into force: now time for Australia to step up
The Paris climate agreement is set to enter into force next month after the European Union and Canada ratified the agreement overnight. The agreement, reached last December, required ratification by at least 55 countries accounting for 55% of global emissions to become operational. US President Barack Obama hailed the news as perhaps “a turning point for our planet”, but also noted that it “will not solve the climate crisis” alone.  So far, 73 countries accounting for 56% of emissions  have ratified the agreement. This includes the world’s two largest emitters: China and the US… The agreement will enter into force on November 4.

Read also: Paris climate deal a ‘turning point’ in global warming fight, Obama says

Energy and Climate Change

6 ways to accelerate negative emissions technology
Meeting the ambitious climate change targets agreed upon in Paris last December will require deep transformation of the global economy — especially in energy systems, transportation systems and industry — over the next several decades. It is becoming increasingly clear that such a transition will almost certainly require substantial deployment of negative emissions technologies (NETs) during the course of the 21st century.  One way to look at this challenge is through the lens of integrated assessment models (IAMs), which are optimization models that minimize the costs of reaching climate targets over the long term.

graph-integratedglobalcarbonprojectCould household battery storage have prevented SA blackout?
Energy experts are still scratching their heads about what they could have done to prevent the massive, state-wide blackout that occurred in the midst of a one-in-50-years storm last month. The answer may lay inside South Australian homes. Or at least, it should do. And it’s battery storage.

Trinabest PowerCube battery storage launched in Australia
Trinabest, the energy storage spin-off from Chinese PV outfit Trina Solar, has launched its residential battery storage product on the Australian market, offering two sizes of the company’s lithium-ion phosphate PowerCube.

Scotland bans controversial gas extraction technique
Scottish ministers have banned the use of a technique to extract methane by burning underground coal beds, after expert advice said it posed too many risks to the climate and environment. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish environment minister, said he was asking ministers in London to revoke six licences to find test sites for the technique, known as underground coal gasification (UGC), in central and south-west Scotland.

Fracking given UK go-ahead as Lancashire council rejection overturned
Sajid Javid has overturned Lancashire council’s rejection of a fracking site, paving the way for shale company Cuadrilla to drill in the county next year and provoking outrage from local groups, environmentalists and politicians.

Environment and Biodiversity

Hunting, not deforestation, biggest threat to Southeast Asian biodiversity: Study
Deforestation and forest degradation are typically considered to be the most significant threats to tropical biodiversity, but a new study finds that hunting is “by far” the most severe immediate threat to the survival of Southeast Asia’s endangered vertebrates.

Wildscreen’s Witness the Wild open-air exhibition – in pictures
The Wildscreen festival is the world’s biggest celebration of screen-based natural history storytelling which takes place every two years in Bristol. Among the highlights is the Witness the Wild open-air photography exhibition, which runs on College Green from 7-28 October and features large-scale images by several of the world’s top wildlife and conservation photographers

Lynx on the Brink by Luke Massey

Lynx on the Brink by Luke Massey
In 2001 there were less than 100 Iberian lynx left in the wild. Fifteen years later there are now more than 400, but it is still, unfortunately, the rarest cat in the world. Predominantly nocturnal, the lynx were tricky to find, and as this picture shows, they’re perfectly suited for the rocky landscapes they call home, blending seamlessly into the boulder-strewn landscape. When you do find one there is no real way of describing the elation of being in the presence of such a stunning and rare cat. Photograph: Luke Massey/Wildscreen 2016

The salmon crisis in Chile’s Chiloé Island
One of the world’s major salmon-producing regions has been hit by an environmental crisis. In early May, an unprecedented fish kill struck the archipelago of Chiloé, located in southern Chile. Fishers blame salmon companies for causing the pollution. Meanwhile, the Chilean government stands by its initial stance: the problem originated with a “red tide,” a harmful algae bloom.

Economy and Business

Thinking outside the ‘western box’ for employee engagement
During my most recent trip to Bangladesh to assess the impacts of the ready-made garment sector, I discovered signs indicating that socially responsible factories are beginning to strategically link employee engagement to human rights and increased production.

All-Energy Conference: Industry and academia team up on clean tech solutions
Australia’s research and development model is undergoing a revolution, with industry now guiding academics on where to focus research on new technology for the clean energy sector, the All-Energy 2016 conference has heard in Melbourne this week. Redback Technologies founder and managing director Philip Livingston, who presented a keynote address, said the traditional university approach of developing intellectual property and then looking to see how it could be applied had a low probability of success.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Review: Death by Design at the Environmental Film Festival
A ringing phone on the peak hour train ride home may be an annoyance to be ignored, and hopefully turned to silent, but these familiar chimes are signs of a digital revolution all around us. These are the personal electronic products we engage with to help organise, connect, entertain, and inform us in an ever faster cycle.  Now they’re ubiquitous. But where do they come from, who makes them, and where do they end up when discarded? Death by Design, a documentary directed by Sue Williams screening at Environmental Film Festival Australia in Melbourne, confronts these questions.

Politics and Society

Mukherjee inaugurates first World Sustainable Development Summit
New Delhi, Oct 6 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday inaugurated the first edition of World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) here being organised by TERI with emphasis on the need to limit the rise of climate change.  “We need to follow a twin-tracked approach of limiting the rise of climate change while ensuring the existence of sufficient resources to meet our future developmental requirements. This objective mandates the efficient use of earth’s natural resource,” Mukherjee said at the event.

It’s not just the ‘yuck factor’ that puts people off eating insects
In the past, when new foods arrived in Western societies, the general public didn’t just suddenly decide to “accept” them following information campaigns or advertising. Research on the successful introduction of new foods such as sushi – or even, once upon a time, tea – suggests instead that they were first integrated into the diets of a handful of early adopters. This creates a relatively small but established market from which more widespread acceptance gradually develops. As such, it is probably more important to focus on people who are already willing to eat insects, rather than trying to convince those that aren’t.

Pew survey: Republicans are rejecting reality on climate change | Dana Nuccitelli
Climate scientists have 95% confidence that humans are the main cause of global warming over the past six decades. Their best estimate attributes 100% of global warming since 1950 to human activities. 90 to 100% of climate scientists and their research agree on this. Human-caused global warming is as settled as science gets. Yet most Americans don’t realize it. Moreover, the more conservative a person’s ideology, the less likely they are to accept this scientific reality or to trust the scientific experts. According to a new Pew Research Center poll, just 48% of Americans realize that the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity.

A cleaner environment and lives changing at the edge of Waikato peat lake
NEW ZEALAND – Plant a seed, give it the right conditions to grow, transplant it to a peat lake in Waikato and you have a recipe for environmental and social success. A band of workers from the Te Whangai Trust are planting out 10,000 trees this week – 20,000 in total – at Lake Ruatuna near Ohaupo to restore dairy pasture back into wetland. But for Te Whangai Trust business development manager John Walter, it’s a whole lot more than trees in the ground. The most vulnerable in the community – the long term unemployed, Corrections referrals and others – get an opportunity to break cycles of dependency and find employment.

‘It’s all about me, me, me!’ Why children are spending less time doing household chores
In August, Treasurer Scott Morrison warned that “Australia has a generation growing up expecting government handouts”. Researchers have labelled this the “Me Generation”. Some even say we are facing a “me, me, me epidemic”.  So why have today’s young people become more narcissistic? According to research, the decrease in young people’s levels of empathy is partly the result of changes in parenting styles that came about in the 1980s.

Built Environment

World needs $90tn infrastructure overhaul to avoid climate disaster, study finds
A gigantic overhaul of the world’s buildings, public transport and energy infrastructure costing trillions of dollars is required if dangerous climate change is to be avoided, according to a major new report. The study by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, which is co-chaired by prominent climate economist Lord Nicholas Stern, found that the world is expected to invest about $90tn in infrastructure over the next 15 years, requiring an “urgent” shift to ensure that this money is spent on low-carbon, energy-efficient projects.

Sydney councils join together on resilience strategy
Sydney has received its Preliminary Resilience Assessment, delivered as part of the 100 Resilient Cities program spearheaded by Sydney’s chief resilience officer Beck Dawson, with increased demand for health services, diminishing social cohesion and extreme weather events some of the key challenges for the city.

Food Systems

Brutal seas: Meet the men enslaved to catch our fish
New Zealand is importing millions of kilograms of fish that men die to catch, but Customs won’t reveal who’s selling it. These are the stories of the men who catch that fish: the lost years of their lives, the violence they survived, and the bleak future awaiting them if they escape.


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