Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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I’m furious to read in today’s top story that Tasmanian salmon farms are using bean bag rounds against seals trying to take fish. Not mentioned in the article is that bullets in the bean bags are made from lead shot. In other news, more talk about climate action in Australia with Chief Scientist, Alan Finkel, urging everyone to listen to the science; industry and councils going ahead with renewables in the absence of any government policy and, laughingly, Matt Canavon then accuses businesses of interfering with democracy. On food systems, research shows climate denial by farmers in Australia is reducing as they come to terms reality; looking after soil health helps hold moisture in times of drought; a Papuan activist tours New Zealand telling his story on how the Palm Oil industry destroyed his community; and why it’s beneficial to adopt a flexitarian diet.

Top Story

Tasmania’s salmon farms shooting thousands of non-lethal ‘beanbag’ rounds at seals | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – More than 8,700 beanbag bullets have been fired at seals around aquaculture sites in Tasmania since 2013, documents reveal. The beanbag bullets are a non-lethal ammunition usually associated with riot control and law enforcement but the use of them as part of a seal-deterrent strategy was described as “unacceptable” by animal welfare proponents. Right To Information documents reveal that 3,770 beanbag rounds were used and 39,024 underwater explosives in 2016.

Climate Change

The science is clear: we have to start creating our low-carbon future today | Alan Finkel | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – This week’s release of the special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has put scientific evidence on the front page of the world’s newspapers. As Australia’s Chief Scientist, I hope it will be recognised as a tremendous validation of the work that scientists do… It is not my intention in this article to offer a detailed commentary on the IPCC’s findings. I commend the many scientists with expertise in climate systems who have helped Australians to understand the messages of this report. My purpose is to urge all decision-makers – in government, industry and the community – to listen to the science.

The Hurricanes, and Climate-Change Questions, Keep Coming. Yes, They’re Linked. | The New York Times
Scientists are increasingly confident of the links between global warming and hurricanes. In a warming world, they say, hurricanes will be stronger, for a simple reason: Warmer water provides more energy that feeds them. Hurricanes and other extreme storms will also be wetter, for a simple reason: Warmer air holds more moisture. And, storm surges from hurricanes will be worse, for a simple reason that has nothing to do with the storms themselves: Sea levels are rising.


Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday. The storm has sustained winds of 155 miles an hour.CreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

Panama City, Fla., on Wednesday. The storm has sustained winds of 155 miles an hour.CreditJoe Raedle/Getty Images

Environment and Biodiversity

‘Wildlife crime makes us all poorer’, says Theresa May | The Guardian
The mass trafficking of wildlife impoverishes everyone in the world and must be treated with the same severity as drug and people trafficking, according to leaders from 80 nations gathered at the Illegal Wildlife Trade conference in London on Thursday.

We need more carbon in our soil to help Australian farmers through the drought | The Conversation
Australia has never been a stranger to droughts, but climate change is now super-charging them. Besides taking a toll on human health, droughts also bake the earth. This means the ground holds less water, creating a vicious cycle of dryness. Our research has investigated ways to improve the health and structure of soil so it can hold more water, even during droughts. It’s vital to help farmers safeguard their soil as we adapt to an increasingly drought-prone climate.

‘No time to mess around’: Reef Foundation starts $400m donation drive | SMH
AUSTRALIA – The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the non-profit group that received a controversial $443.4 million grant from the Turnbull government, has launched a bid to secure further donations of as much as $400 million. The Collaborative Investment Strategy, to be announced on Friday, is the centrepiece of what the foundation hopes will be Australia’s largest environmental fundraising campaign.

Legal bid to delay land-clearing over risk to Great Barrier Reef | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Federal approval to clear more than 2,000 hectares of Queensland native forest in the catchment for the Great Barrier Reef could potentially be held up for months after the Environmental Defender’s Office launched court action to prevent it. The federal court proceedings against the state environment minister and the owners of Kingvale station come as the federal environment minister, Melissa Price, extended the time to make a decision on the controversial Kingvale proposal to 31 October.

The northern quoll is one of the threatened species the government’s expert report says will likely be affected by a plan to clear 2,000 hectares of Kingvale station. Photograph: University of Technology Sydney

The northern quoll is one of the threatened species the government’s expert report says will likely be affected by a plan to clear 2,000 hectares of Kingvale station. Photograph: University of Technology Sydney

Economy and Business

Climate change will make the next global crash the worst | The Guardian (Opinion)
Late last month Indonesia was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami that left thousands of people dead and missing. This week the International Monetary Fund arrived in the country to hold its annual meeting on the island of Bali. On the day when the IMF issued a warning about trouble ahead for the global economy, the latest report from the UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change said the world had only a dozen years left to take the steps necessary to prevent a global warming catastrophe. The message is clear for those willing to hear it: get ready for a time when economic failure combines with ecological breakdown to create the perfect storm.

World Bank dumps Kosovo plant, ending support for coal worldwide | Business Green
The World Bank has abandoned the last coal project on its books, with its president publicly dumping the Kosova e Re plant on Wednesday. Speaking at a town hall event in Bali, Jim Yong Kim was asked by civil society representatives from Kosovo whether the bank was still considering guaranteeing loans to the plant. “On the Balkans, yes, we have made a very firm decision not to go forward with the coal power plant,” he said.

Politics and Society

Farmers’ climate denial begins to wane as reality bites | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – Australia has been described as the “front line of the battle for climate change adaptation”, and our farmers are the ones who have to lead the charge. Farmers will have to cope, among other pressures, with longer droughts, more erratic rainfall, higher temperatures, and changes to the timing of seasons. Yet, puzzlingly enough to many commentators, climate denial has been widespread among farmers and in the ranks of the National Party, which purports to represent their interests.


Industry, councils leading on climate action despite policy uncertainty | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – While Canberra dismisses the flashing sirens delivered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week, the rest of the nation – including businesses, local government and retail investors – are stepping up to the challenge with a range of programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on their own accord. 

Canavan condemns business emissions self-regulation to meet Paris target | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Big business has entered discussions about a self-regulated suite of measures to help Australia meet its Paris commitments, weeks after the Morrison government abandoned the national energy guarantee. The resources minister, Matt Canavan, accused Australia’s biggest energy companies of interfering in the democratic process, as climate experts and environmental groups lashed the government over the development on Thursday.

Ausgrid hopes community storage can help it engage with consumers | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – The NSW-based distribution network Ausgrid says it is looking at building “community-style” battery storage facilities as it looks to get “closer to consumers” and help usher in the next stage of the energy transition. CEO Richard Gross, in an interview with RenewEconomy ahead of a presentation at the AFR Energy Summit on Monday, says the network operator is investigating how “community storage” – installed in the network’s subs stations – can serve the needs of both the networks and consumers.

Neste and Air BP ink green jet fuel partnership | Business Green
Biofuels specialist Neste and aviation fuel giant Air BP have today signed a major new agreement to explore how to scale up the fledgling supply chain for sustainable jet fuels made from waste-based feedstocks. In the latest sign the embryonic market for green jet fuels is generating growing interest across the aviation industry, the two companies said they would work together to introduce a co-branded sustainable aviation fuel to market at airports through Air BP’s global network.

A New Fuel Source Can Power Kenya’s Industries While Saving Forests. So Why Isn’t it Taking Off? | World Resources Institute
KENYA – Kenya’s forests are the country’s lifeblood. But they’re also its fuel source. Firewood is the main source for powering industries and cooking meals. With demand for energy increasing, forests are feeling the strain—the country has lost more than 9 percent of its trees over the last 18 years. But a handful of entrepreneurs are working to help power Kenya without contributing to deforestation. Biomass briquettes, made by compacting dry organic waste like sawdust and sugarcane stalks into solid blocks, have a high calorific value: Consumers can generate the heat they need with smaller amounts of briquettes than firewood. And better yet, briquettes don’t require cutting pristine forests.

Built Environment

UK’s housing stock ‘needs massive retrofit to meet climate targets’ | The Guardian
UK – Domestic housing accounts for about a fifth of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from heating and hot water. But attempts to bring these down have largely failed, prompting renewed calls from experts for a national programme of home improvement that would make dwellings low-carbon for the next 30 years.

Food Systems

West Papuan people paying the price for our palm oil demand, campaigner says |
Step into Wensislaus Fatubun’s shoes and a key ingredient found in many household products looks a lot different. Massive swaths of forest have been cleared to grow palm plantations to fuel our need for palm oil products. In doing so, it has caused the destruction of Fatubun’s​ home in West Papua. Now he’s in New Zealand to raise awareness of the plight of West Papua’s indigenous people who, he said, have had their way of life destroyed by the Indonesian Government’s push to grow the palm oil industry.

New Zealand is one of the biggest users of palm kernel in the world, where it is used as a stock feed in the dairy industry.

New Zealand is one of the biggest users of palm kernel in the world, where it is used as a stock feed in the dairy industry.


Nestlé and Unilever spearhead food industry coalition on animal welfare | The Guardian
Pressure from consumers and investors has pushed seven of the largest names in the food industry to join forces in improving animal welfare standards, the first industry-led coalition of its kind. The members of the Global Coalition for Animal Welfare (GCAW) are Aramark, Compass Group, Elior Group, Ikea Food Services, Nestlé, Sodexo and Unilever, which jointly serve 3.7bn customers daily, and have combined revenues of $165bn (£124bn).

‘Flexitarian’ diets key to feeding people in a warming world | BBC News
If the world wants to limit climate change, water scarcity and pollution, then we all need to embrace “flexitarian” diets, say scientists. This means eating mainly plant-based foods, and is one of three key steps towards a sustainable future for all in 2050, they say. Food waste will need to be halved and farming practices will also have to improve, according to the study.