Sustainable Development News

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

President Trump could kill the Paris Agreement – but climate action will survive
November 9 will likely become the day that the Paris Agreement died, but not when the goal of limiting warming to 2℃ slipped out of reach. President Donald Trump can, and likely will, drop out of the Paris climate agreement. Direct withdrawal will take four years.  But Trump could instead drop out from the overall climate convention under which the agreement operates. That would only take one year and would result in automatic withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.  It would shortcut any hopes that Paris would bind Trump’s hands for some time.  As I’ve argued in my research, a US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement would be its death knell.

Climate Change and Energy

German coalition agrees to cut carbon emissions up to 95% by 2050
Germany’s coalition government has reached an agreement on a climate change action plan which involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 to 95% by 2050, a spokesperson said on Friday. The plan, which will require German industry to reduce its CO2 emission by a fifth by 2030, and Germany’s energy sector to reduce emissions by almost a half, will be reviewed in 2018 with a view to its impact on jobs and society.

Trump victory may embolden other nations to obstruct Paris climate deal
Concerns are mounting that Donald Trump’s victory could embolden some fossil fuel-rich countries to try unpicking the historic Paris climate agreement, which came into force last week. Saudi Arabia has tried to obstruct informal meetings at the UN climate summit in Marrakech this week, and worries are rife that states which have not yet ratified the agreement could seek to slow action on carbon emissions. Trump has called global warming a hoax and promised to withdraw the US from the Paris accord.

How Trump could be a win for battery storage – and renewables
Deutsche Bank has become the latest major analyst group to confirm that the age of economic battery storage technologies – and all the benefits they will bring for the rapid roll-out of distributed renewables like rooftop solar – is hurtling towards us at a rate that not many foresaw. In a report released on Thursday, the global banking group said the global battery market was at an inflection point, with global consumption expected to treble from 70Gwh in 2015 to 210GWh by 2018, and then more than double again to 535GWh by 2025.

Warming up: new research points to a more sensitive climate to rising CO2
Climate models may be underestimating how sensitive the planet is to rising greenhouse gas levels, with new research suggesting the pace of global warming is about to quicken. Scientists have long known that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere warms the globe. The so-called greenhouse gas effect, though, may be amplified the higher the mercury climbs, according to a study published recently in Science Advances.

Environment and Biodiversity

Supermoon to bring king tides across New Zealand as wild winds hit
The brightest supermoon in 68 years is set to cause king tides throughout the country when it lights up the sky this week. However, it’s not the larger-than-usual tides that are of any concern: rather, the winds of up to 140kmh that are expected to blast through central regions. “Supermoons” occur when a full moon lines up with the sun, coinciding with the point in the moon’s elliptical orbit when it is closest to Earth.

Wild Waitaha River to be tamed by hydro scheme
NEW ZEALAND – An environmental battle looks set to rage over a hydro-scheme that would tame a ferocious stretch of water known as the “Mt Cook of rivers”. The $100 million scheme would be the West Coast’s largest, generating enough electricity to power about 12,000 households. It is planned for the Waitaha River, one of the country’s most spectacular and untamed landscapes.

Economy and Business

Trickle down Trump-economics is not the fiscal policy the world needs
Now that Donald Trump has won the US Presidential election, his single most important economic tool will be fiscal policy. Some central bankers have been calling for governments to step in and stimulate growth as monetary policy reaches the limits of its effectiveness. President Trump’s economic policies are now a matter of global interest. The policies encompass the whole of public expenditures, taxes and other revenues, and the resulting budget balances and debt.  The question is then: what is he going to do with this economic tool?

Politics and Society

Prix Pictet 2016 shortlist turns the lens on space – in pictures
From Hong Kong’s tiny subdivided flats to the migrant crisis, this year’s photography and sustainability award shortlist explores the theme of space from all perspectives

Trapped 04, by Benny Lam from Series: Subdivided Flats, 2012, Hong Kong. Photograph: Benny Lam

Trapped 04, by Benny Lam from Series: Subdivided Flats, 2012, Hong Kong. Photograph: Benny Lam

US deal is a good news story for refugees — here’s why it took so long
The Australian government has announced a new deal, long-expected in policy circles, that will see asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island transferred to the US. This is the first positive news in three years for asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island. It is a circuit breaker that has received support from Labor.

Donald Trump’s immigration plans: start by deporting 3 million ‘criminals’
President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to deport as many as 3 million people once he accedes to the Oval Office, and that fencing will form part of his promised wall on the border with Mexico. In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes, set to be broadcast Sunday, Trump said: “What we are going to do is get the people that are criminal and have criminal records, gang members, drug dealers, where a lot of these people, probably two million, it could be even three million, we are getting them out of our country or we are going to incarcerate. But we’re getting them out of our country, they’re here illegally.”

The 7 biggest threats Trump poses to the environment
Donald Trump has proposed radical policies on many issues, from banning Muslims from entering the country to punishing doctors who perform abortions. His environmental stances are no exception — he has suggested eliminating the EPA, pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement, and cutting all federal spending on clean energy. It’s still unknown, of course, how many of these proposals Trump will act on as president, but environmental groups are already gearing up for a fight.

Adani Carmichael mine opponents join Indigenous climate change project
Traditional owners fighting to stop Australia’s largest proposed coalmine are at the centre of a new University of Queensland project exploring worldwide Indigenous rights movements in the era of climate upheaval. Leaders from the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners council, who are enmeshed in a legal and lobbying effort to head off Adani’s Carmichael mine, will collaborate with academics and human rights lawyers for the first “flagship” project chosen by UQ’s Global Change Institute.

Oil protesters throw ‘unwelcoming party’ on Wellington Harbour
More than 100 people, some in kayaks, have thrown an “unwelcoming party” for Statoil and Chevron on Wellington Harbour. “We’re making it clear to them and to the Government that we won’t stand for a future full of fossil fuels,” Oil Free Wellington spokeswoman Michelle Ducat said on Sunday. Those two oil companies have contracted the world’s largest seismic blasting ship, the Amazon Warrior, to look for oil off Wellington’s coast.

Built Environment

Scotland’s EV charging point usage doubles in one year
Scotland’s electric vehicle (EV) charging point usage in August 2016 was double that of last year’s figures – as revealed by independent motoring charity the RAC foundation. Vehicle charging stations across Scotland were used 26,119 times in August this year, more than double that of last year’s August figure of 12,939 and more than nine times the usage in August 2014 (2,885). Despite this increase, a quarter of Scotland’s 870 charging points remained unused throughout the entire month of August. However, this is an improvement from last year’s 32% and 2014’s 45% figures.

Food Systems

Fish boat cameras fail in first months
NEW ZEALAND – Up to 80 percent of the cameras installed on snapper boats to police fish dumping failed during their first three months. The Ministry for Primary Industries controversially awarded the contract to electronically monitor fishing vessels to Trident Systems – a company owned by the fishing industry. Trident Systems chairman Jeremy Fleming said the cameras initially installed had “real problems” with water getting into cables and condensation in the cameras. He said 70 to 80 percent of cameras failed during the first three months of the contract and a lot of footage was not taken. Mr Fleming said video coverage was at a “pretty satisfactory” level six months into the contract.


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