Thursday 09 October 2014
Sustainable Development News
Latest sustainable development news from Australia and around the world.
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Energy and Climate Change
Feds back down on RET destruction: it’s confirmed
The federal government has rejected the Warburton review of the renewable energy target, a spokeswoman from the Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office today confirmed. The spokeswoman told The Fifth Estate the government had returned to bipartisanship on the RET on the understanding that it would meet Labor’s demands to reject the two major recommendations, both of which would be a devastating blow to renewable energy.
China’s mythical coal habit is no excuse for climate inaction
I’ve heard it many a time, and you probably have too. It’s supposedly the trump card to any argument on addressing climate change globally: “Yeah, but what’s the point? Isn’t China building a new coal plant every week?” If the world’s largest country, with a population of 1.4 billion and counting continues its unwavering march to build carbon intensive fossil fuel generation, what meaningful negotiations can happen on climate change? The factual origin of the “one plant a week” claim is difficult to trace, but clearly warrants some investigation. If you’re a straight-to-the-point kind of person, the answer is no. When it was coined it was likely to have been true, but in a dynamic and growing economy, it’s one of those “facts” that is outliving the conditions it emerged from. The present-day story is a little more complex.
Economy and Business
Glasgow becomes first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels
Glasgow University has become the first academic institution in Europe to divest from the fossil fuel industry, in a turning point for the British arm of the student-led global divestment movement. After 12 months of campaigning, led by the Glasgow University Climate Action Society and involving over 1,300 students, the university court on Wednesday voted to begin divesting £18m from the fossil fuel industry and freeze new investments across its entire endowment of £128m.
How to Reduce Global Warming for Fun and Profit
It’s easy to get depressed about climate change. We’ve made so little progress in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions that our previous goal – to limit the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees Celsius – is almost laughable. But what if companies could make money from carbon dioxide, the heat-trapping gas that’s the main contributor to global warming? We’re not actually so far off from turning emissions into commodities, it turns out. In the United States alone, a number of companies aim to convert waste carbon dioxide into chemicals that can be used to make products we buy every day: bleach, baking soda, car seats, diapers, even fuel. What’s more, these companies aren’t just green do-gooders. They’re all on the verge of commercialization and aim squarely at making money. There’s certainly potential: The market for jet fuel alone was $200 billion in 2010.
Five fashion designers working sustainably without the eco terminology
The recent London fashion week (LFW) was peppered with examples of recycling and repurposing, locally-sourced materials and short, transparent supply chains. Any effort to reduce the negative social and environmental impacts of fashion would likely be welcomed by the green community but in many cases, green credentials at LFW were either a happy coincidence or avoided as an unwanted label. Here we shine the spotlight on five designers who are “eco-ghosting” – developing significant eco credentials, even if they themselves don’t shout about it.
New LED Lighting at Ford Manufacturing Plants Expected to Save $7M a Year
Ford Motor Company has begun installing 25,000 new LED fixtures to replace traditional high-intensity discharge and fluorescent lights, at its manufacturing facilities across the globe. The new fixtures, valued at over $25 million, are expected to reduce Ford’s energy use at manufacturing facilities by 56 million kilowatt-hours annually – enough to power more than 6,000 average-sized homes per year, and an up to 70 percent reduction in lighting energy consumption compared to traditional technologies. Annual energy costs are expected to be reduced by approximately $7 million.
8 lessons from Egypt in building a cleaner chemicals industry
In previous blogs, I have looked at the impacts of the chemicals sector and innovations like green chemistry. But how do we share the technologies that are making the chemicals sector more sustainable, especially in rapidly emerging countries? To answer this question, I’m going to shine the spotlight on Egypt – where factories are discharging 2.5m cubic metres of untreated effluent into the rivers every day, much of it laced with toxic chemicals. The country also faces a water and energy crisis. But three Egyptian companies are tackling these environmental issues through technology adoption and transfer.
Politics and Society
Rewilding the Land Can Repair Damage We’ve Caused and Reconnect Us to the Natural World.
We live in an age of mass extinctions and increasing degradation of our planet. Rewilding—the return of land to a wild state and the reintroduction of animals and plants that once lived there—is one way we can restore the balance in nature. And in ourselves. From his home in Oxford, England, Guardian columnist George Monbiot, author of Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea, and Human Life, talks about why he refuses to fly, how the reintroduction of beavers in Scotland is transforming the environment, and why he hates sheep.
Walmart’s quest for low-cost, healthy, environmentally friendly food
Nearly a decade after setting a series of bold sustainability goals, Walmart has struggled to curb its climate pollution and buy more renewable energy. But the company has already changed the way food is grown around the world – curbing agricultural pollution, pushing healthier choices, supporting local growers and promoting transparency. And the world’s largest retailer (fiscal year 2014 revenues: $473bn) is just getting started. This week, Walmart showcased food and agriculture during its latest sustainability summit, while saying little about energy and emissions. It’s easy to see why. The company remains a long way from being powered by 100% renewable energy, one of its aspirational goals.