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Thursday 09 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

Australia might water down illegal logging laws – here’s why it’s a bad idea
Illegal logging is an immensely profitable global activity, linked to corruption, human rights abuses, criminal networks, and environmental destruction. A 2017 study by the Global Financial Integrity ranked illegal logging as the third largest global crime in value, after counterfeiting and drug trafficking.  Australia imports roughly A$8.1 billion worth of timber products a year, and according to estimates from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, up to A$800 million comes from sources with some risk of being illegally logged. Yet the federal government is currently considering significantly weakening regulation that prevent the import of illegal timber.

Climate Change and Energy

Europe’s carmakers face 30% emission cuts target
The European commission has unveiled new proposals for limits on carbon dioxide emissions from passenger cars and vans, which would compel manufacturers to cut emissions from their vehicles by nearly a third from 2030. But the proposals will not require manufacturers to make a fixed quota of their fleet run on electricity, as some campaigners had hoped.

Hotel in One of Earth’s Driest Places Is Powered by the Sun
Chile’s Atacama Desert is the driest non-polar place on Earth. It’s so dry that some parts of the desert have never seen a single drop of precipitation, and there’s rarely lasting cloud-cover. While these conditions are hostile for human life, domestic and international businesses think they’re just right to host enough solar panels to power all of South America.

Environment and Biodiversity

Stunning Pictures Take You Under the Sea
Today, Gross lives and works in the Bahamas as a dive instructor and pursues his photography year-round. He entered the 2017 National Geographic Nature Photographer of the Year contest to showcase his photography. “I don’t think I’m alone in feeling overwhelmed with all the problems facing our planet, but I believe that putting my skills and passion towards ocean conservation can make some small difference and that is what drives me today,” he says.

Lemon sharks spend their adolescence near mangrove trees that serve as protection from larger predators. To capture this ecosystem, Gross created an under-over, or split-shot, photo of a juvenile lemon shark.

Lemon sharks spend their adolescence near mangrove trees that serve as protection from larger predators. To capture this ecosystem, Gross created an under-over, or split-shot, photo of a juvenile lemon

Spider webs and succulents inspire this water-collection startup
The core team behind NexLoop, a biomimicry venture, has been collaborating on its nature-inspired water collection technology for almost two years. But the first time the three entrepreneurs met in person was in mid-October in California, when their idea won the $100,000 grand prize in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge.

Economy and Business

BHP backs green groups over the Minerals Council as industry rift widens
AUSTRALIA – The rift between the world’s biggest mining company, BHP, and the powerful industry lobby group the Minerals Council of Australia has just grown wider. BHP has told environmental groups it does not support elements of a campaign by the Minerals Council to impose greater control on their spending. The extraordinary split comes as BHP reduces its carbon emissions and the Minerals Council doubles down on its support for coal.

Wind, solar costs continue fall, and fossil fuels can’t stop them
The latest update for energy technology costs put together by global investment bank Lazard have been released and show a growing advantage for wind and solar technologies over fossil fuels such as coal, gas and nuclear. Lazard’s latest levellised cost of energy (LCOE) analysis – the eleventh version – notes that wind and solar costs have both fallen by another 6 per cent in another year, with coal remaining around about flat and the cost of nuclear jumping sharply.

Graph - renewable cost reductions 2017

Coal-fired plant shifted $1bn offshore while pocketing $117m from Australian taxpayers
AUSTRALIA – The owner of one of Australia’s dirtiest coal-fired power plants quietly moved $1bn offshore within days of pocketing $117m from taxpayers in compensation for Labor’s now-defunct carbon tax. The revelation, contained in the Paradise Papers, has prompted renewed criticism of the “chronic failure” of Australian climate policy and warnings against future cash handouts to multinational polluters.

The seven megatrends that could beat global warming: ‘There is reason for hope’
‘Everybody gets paralysed by bad news because they feel helpless,” says Christiana Figueres, the former UN climate chief who delivered the landmark Paris climate change agreement. “It is so in our personal lives, in our national lives and in our planetary life.” But it is becoming increasingly clear that it does not need to be all bad news: a series of fast-moving global megatrends, spurred by trillion-dollar investments, indicates that humanity might be able to avert the worst impacts of global warming.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Make it yourself cleaning products
Store-bought cleaners can contain a heap of chemical nasties that may not be very good for us, or for our environment.  Many household cleaners are easy to make yourself, which means you’ll know exactly what is in them.  This can also work out a lot cheaper, especially if you buy the ingredients in bulk online or from a bulk store such as Bin Inn.

Getting the most out of your green waste
Imagine turning your food waste into a product with another use? Enter the wonderful world of composting. Nelson Environment Centre educator Sarah Langi​ said while composting was sometimes depicted as being quite scientific, it was something people at any level could do.  “It’s like making a cake, you just need the right ingredients. You need enough browns and enough greens.”

Don’t dump your potatoes – use these easy recipes for your freezer
Proof, as if more proof were needed, that Britain is heading to hell in a handcart, comes with the news that we waste nearly half the potatoes we buy, throwing a shameful 2.7m potential roasties or jackets in the bin every day.
Read also: Nearly half of all fresh potatoes thrown away daily by UK households

Making sustainability fashionable
Nelson’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore employee Becky Wyatt said it was estimated in 2011, 1.72 tonnes of clothes ended up as landfill equalling the same amount of brand new clothes purchased… In an age where consumers throw clothes away or into a clothing bin, fashion stylist Sonya Leusink-Sladen said creating a planet-friendly wardrobe was about “upcycling, value per wear and second-hand shopping”. “We need to step away from the idea that clothing is something to throw out after a while. We should be investing in quality and looking after it.”

TerraCycle, P&G partner in a love-hate relationship with trash
Tom Szaky, the Hungarian-born CEO and founder of TerraCycle, dreams of chewing gum, cigarette butts and ocean plastic. His Trenton, New Jersey-based company aims to accelerate the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution, a breakthrough in materials science, energy storage and other technologies, by cleaning up after heaps of waste and inventing inputs for items spurned by ordinary recyclers. This year, TerraCycle, with Procter & Gamble, reached a major recycling milestone by creating the Ocean Plastic Bottle for P&G’s line of Fairy dish detergent. It is the first commercially available consumer-grade bottle made entirely from recycled (90 percent) and marine (10 percent) plastic.
Ed: You can partner with Terracyle in your workplace and help create a use for hard to recycle plastics.  It’s really easy to sign up in Australia, New Zealand, and elsewhere.  Terracycle even pay for the postage for the waste you collect AND you collect money for charity.

Politics and Society

UK government sued for third time over deadly air pollution
The UK government is being sued for a third time over the widespread illegal levels of air pollution, which cause 40,000 early deaths every year. Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have already defeated ministers twice in court, forcing a new pollution plan to be drawn up in July. But ClientEarth believes even the latest strategy does not meet the legal requirement of banishing toxic air in the “shortest possible time”, as EU law requires.

Islands lost to the waves: how rising seas washed away part of Micronesia’s 19th-century history
In 1850, Nahlapenlohd was so large that not only did it support a sizeable coconut forest, but it was able to accommodate a memorable battle between the rival kingdoms of Kitti and Madolenihmw. The skirmish was the first in Pohnpeian history to involve the European sailor-mercenaries known as beachcombers and to be fought with imported weapons like cannons and muskets.  Today the island is no more. The oral histories tell that so much blood was spilled in this fierce battle that it stripped the island of all its vegetation, causing it to shrink and eventually disappear beneath the waves.

‘Talking is not enough’: Indigenous exhibition reveals the legal power of art
For Indigenous painter and clan leader Djambawa Marawili, art carries a lot more meaning than aesthetics alone. “I don’t say this is my art,” Mr Marawili says. “I always say, this is my document.” In fact, the Yolngu people of east Arnhem Land have a history of using art to tell their stories but also bring about sweeping – often long-overdue – legal changes in Australia.

Djambawa Marawili with artworks by himself, his brother and his father. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Djambawa Marawili with artworks by himself, his brother and his father. Photo: Louise Kennerley

Safe drinking at last after charity steps in to fix poison-water issue
AUSTRALIA – A remote Aboriginal community says the West Australian Government’s failure to fix its contaminated water supply has led to life-threatening situations. The water at the Pandanus Park community near Broome is unsafe for babies and pregnant women to drink because it contains high levels of nitrate. Community CEO Patricia Riley has been lobbying the State Government to act on the issue for 18 months.

Trump’s top environmental pick says she has ‘many questions’ about climate change
USA – Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s pick to serve as his top White House environmental official, told the Senate Wednesday that she had doubts about the link between human activity and climate change… She did acknowledge that there was probably some human contribution, “the extent to which I think is very uncertain.” That contradicts leading scientific assessments on the matter, which have pinned climate change largely on human greenhouse gas emissions.

The world is in economic, political and environmental gridlock – here’s why (Book)
The crisis of contemporary democracy has become a major subject of political science in recent years. Despite this, the symptoms of this crisis – the vote for Brexit and Trump, among others – were not foreseen. Nor were the underlying causes of this new constellation of politics. Focusing on the internal development of national polities alone, as has typically been the trend in academia, does not help us unlock the deep drivers of change.

Built Environment

Tips and tricks to make your house more sustainable
New Zealand houses are notoriously cold, damp and draughty, especially in winter. Here are some tips to make your house warmer and drier.

New Delhi: Off-the-scale pollution prompts public health emergency, school closures
INDIA – Toxic concentrations in New Delhi’s air have reached levels 42 times above what is considered safe, reigniting questions about how the rapidly-developing city can tackle its persistent air pollution crisis.

India’s Move to Make Buildings Efficient
INDIA – The government’s policy agency, Niti Aayog, estimates that energy demand from India’s buildings will increase by more than 800 percent in 2047 compared to 2012. Under the current standards, the country will face higher energy costs and skyrocketing consumption for decades. At the same time, air pollution will worsen, adding to the impact of climate change. That’s why India needs better building efficiency policies and programs now.

Food Systems

Young dairy farmer trying to farm right wins environment award
NEW ZEALAND – Matt McKenzie says he is just doing “simple, basic farming”.  The 26-year-old dairy farmer won the environmental leadership in farming and land management award at the Southland Community Environment Awards last week.

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