Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Top Story

Renewables Could Hold The Key To China’s Water Problems
A power sector transformation driven by renewables and improved plant cooling technology could help relieve China’s water demand issues. A new brief published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and China Water Risk finds that scaling up renewable energy in China, and introducing improved plant cooling technologies for existing power plants, could go a long way to reducing water intensity by up to 42%.

Energy and Climate Change

Climate scientists step up search for ‘holy grail’ of million-year-old ice
Somewhere deep below the ice in Antarctica lies a time capsule. It’s the holy grail of climate science and promises to reveal the past and future of Earth’s atmosphere. And right now, scientists are meeting in Hobart to work out a plan to dig it up. The time capsule is ice that froze 1.5m years ago, capturing tiny bubbles of air, bringing a sample of the ancient atmosphere through time to the present day.

Australia’s coal mines are pouring methane gas into the atmosphere
Methane emissions are one of the major concerns surrounding coal seam gas. But we should also be paying attention to other sources of methane, in particular those from coal mining. By dealing with these we could make significant progress on reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Queensland’s carbon pollution could increase by a third, report says
AUSTRALIA – New modelling by Queensland’s Environment Department shows the state’s carbon pollution could increase by 35 per cent by 2030. The State Government has released the projections in the face of growing resistance to planned changes to tree-clearing laws.

Environment and Biodiversity

Delhi’s air pollution is a classic case of environmental injustice
The news that India is introducing a new tax on car sales to help combat severe air pollution and congestion problems has unsurprisingly been decried by the country’s car industry. The chair of India’s largest car manufacturer, Maruti Suzuki, says the tax “is going to hurt the industry, and will impact growth and affect job creation”. Following the announcement, shares in Maruti Suzuki traded more than 5% lower. But others have celebrated the move, recognising that business as usual cannot continue in a country home to the four most polluted cities in the world.

6 Chinese Rayon Producers Join Effort to End Use of Ancient Forest Fiber in Fabrics
Today, Canadian environmental NGO Canopy welcomes six large Chinese viscose producers to the growing roster of fashion and textile leaders committed to eliminating the world’s ancient and endangered forests from their fabrics. While to date 60 brands and designers, representing more than 85 billion USD in annual revenues, have signed on to the CanopyStyle campaign — triggering the need for deep shifts within the viscose supply chain — the real change will come from producers, who must provide the industry with alternatives.

Queensland crocodiles gobble up pests one bite at a time
AUSTRALIA – In an unusual partnership between a reptile park and a local council, crocodiles are being used to help eradicate the pervasive and aggressive pest — the Common Indian Myna bird. The crocodiles at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park in Childers are regularly being fed Indian Myna birds after the pests are trapped by the council. Park owner Ian Jenkins said using pest species made sense “otherwise they would just be dumped”.

Australasian swallowtail butterfly holds record number of vision cells in its eyes
The team, reporting today in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, said a butterfly known as the common bluebottle (Graphium sarpendon), has no less than 15 classes of these vision cells, known as photoreceptors. “To date, the highest number of photoreceptor classes in any one insect was nine,” said Professor Kentaro Arikawa of Sokendai (the Graduate University of Advanced Studies) in Hayama, Japan, who is an expert in the neuroscience behind insect vision.

Economy and Business

The carbon counters: tracking emissions in a post-Paris world
As the Paris climate deal requires developing countries to monitor their emissions, organisations are using online courses to train a new breed of green accountants capable of the complex task, reports Environment 360

Is the wind industry still a safe bet for investors?
Four years ago, Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas was on the brink of bankruptcy… Fast forward to 2016 and the world’s biggest turbine manufacturer is reporting historic successes, including a record €685m (£530m) net profit last year and a 22% increase on revenue to €8.4bn (£6.5bn).

“Let’s build this new next wave of the industrial revolution”: Steve Howard, IKEA
In an interview with The Climate Group’s Climate TV, Steve Howard, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA, says the global climate change conversation has changed, stating: “We’re talking about opportunity sharing rather than burden sharing, about investment rather than cost.”… The IKEA CSO notes that with advances in renewable technologies, it will be cheaper for companies to choose wind and solar power than coal or gas in most countries by 2030. “Just solar alone in the last five or six years – we’ve seen an 80% reduction in the prices. What’s possible with it is radically different from a few years ago.”

Increased carbon credit value would encourage more forest area
NEW ZEALAND – A Marlborough forestry consultant supports an increase in the value of carbon credits to encourage more trees to be planted. Latest Ministry of Primary Industries figures show the total area of forest planted in New Zealand had fallen by 16,000 hectares, with only 3000ha of new forest planted last year. Forestry was the country’s third biggest exporter, behind meat and wool, and dairying, with an export value worth $4.8 billion in 2014. But since 2000 the planted area had declined on average 3267ha a year, from 1.76 million hectares down to 1.72 million hectares last year.

Waste and the Circular Economy

To beat the ‘throwaway’ waste crisis, we must design loveable objects – that last
Just over a century ago, “disposability” referred to small, low-cost products such as disposable razors and paper napkins. Today, practically everything is disposable – it is culturally permissible to throw away anything from a barely-used smartphone, television, or vacuum cleaner, to an entire three-piece suite or fitted bathroom.

Scottish Government funds remanufacturing as part of move to circular economy
Funding has been awarded to nine pioneering projects that will help Scottish remanufacturing businesses to make the most efficient use of materials. The Scottish Institute for Remanufacture has awarded a total of £238,360 between nine companies. Projects involve areas such as logistics in recovering products for remanufacture, material wear, cleaning technologies and end-of-life assessment.

Students taught to ‘Take 3’ items of rubbish when leaving beach
A cheap and simple way to reduce plastic debris on beaches is being embraced by schools in coastal regions around Australia. More than 100,000 students have been taught the “Take 3” message, which is to take three pieces of rubbish away when leaving a beach or waterway.

Food Waste Roadmap Shows Cutting U.S. Waste 20% Could Generate $100B in Cross-Sector Value
A new report released today from ReFED — a collaboration of over 30 business, government, investor, foundation and nonprofit leaders committed to reducing U.S. food waste — analyzes 27 viable food waste solutions that can be enacted today to cut food waste in the United States by 20 percent. This will put the country on track to achieve the national 50 percent food waste reduction target by 2030, as established by the U.S. government in September 2015.

Politics and Society

NSW Liberals call for national debates on climate change science
AUSTRALIA – The NSW Liberals have formally called on the Turnbull government to conduct public debates about climate change – including whether the science is settled – in a stark reminder of the deep divisions within the party over the issue.

Charges laid in bobby calf investigation by Ministry for Primary Industries
NEW ZEALAND – The Ministry for Primary Industries has laid charges against an individual in its investigation into the abuse of bobby calves. The investigation started in September 2015 when the ministry received hours of footage containing alleged offences involving bobby calves in the Waikato region. Charges were filed this week at the Huntly District Court under the Animal Welfare Act in relation to the issue. Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) deputy director of general regulation and assurance Scott Gallacher said the investigation into this matter had been careful and methodical and was ongoing.

Built Environment

Need to reduce indoor pollution? House plants will help you with that
When you think of indoor health hazards, exposure to air pollution is probably not the first thing that comes to mind.  However, Dr Fraser Torpy, director of the University of Technology Sydney Plants and Indoor Environmental Quality Research Group, says the air circulating inside our buildings is often more polluted than the air outside, and this can have a very real impact on our health.

If planners understand it’s cool to green cities, what’s stopping them?
Urban residents naturally want to stay cool. Air conditioning is the usual choice, but it can be expensive to run. Air conditioning also adds carbon pollution, creates noise and can make outdoor spaces hotter. So what else can we do to manage increasing urban heat? And who has the ability to act? Urban planners are increasingly involved in developing and delivering urban greening strategies. While it seems like a “no brainer” to green cities, our international research shows that planners are not always comfortable with this idea.

How will L.A.’s mountain lions cross the road? It may take a $55 million bridge
I got the text just before 1 p.m.: A dropped pin location, 39 miles away, that in this city’s traffic would take two hours to reach by car. The text came from a National Park Service biologist, and the pin was the address of where to meet for a mountain lion capture. Invites like this are rare, almost as rare as the cats themselves. That’s because tracking, trapping, darting and swapping out radio collar batteries and taking tissue samples is stressful on the animals — and researchers. But it’s an essential stage of a 13-year study that’s building a case for the construction of a wildlife bridge over a 10-lane freeway, a $55 million project that looks like the last hope for L.A.’s lions.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.