Sustainable Development News
Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Lots of coverage today of the much anticipated agreement on emissions reduction in shipping, signed on Friday last week. In other news, Australia continues its battle with an energy transition that has no national plan, even if the states/territories get it; research shows people don’t realise the top ten ‘charismatic’ mammals are actually threatened with extinction; an article on the hidden war (related to a recent story on protection of mountain gorillas) in the Congo; and avoiding palm oil is a practical way for you to help save rainforests and their inhabitants while sending a message to manufacturers that you don’t want it in the products you buy (see the food systems section).
Shipping to halve carbon footprint by 2050 under first sector-wide climate strategy | Climate Home News
Global shipping must at least halve its emissions by 2050, under a hard-fought international deal that for the first time sets the sector on course to shrink its carbon footprint. The agreement reached by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on Friday is an initial step for one of the world’s biggest polluting industries. Over the next five years, negotiators are to develop a package of measures to fulfil the target, delivering a final strategy in 2023.
- The shipping industry is finally going to cut its climate change emissions. That’s a big deal. | The Washington Post
- INTERVIEW-Tiny Marshall Islands wields outsized clout for climate action | Thomson Reuters Foundation
- Carbon dioxide from ships at sea to be regulated for first time | The Guardian
Climate Change and Energy
Avoid Gulf stream disruption at all costs, scientists warn | The Guardian
Serious disruption to the Gulf Stream ocean currents that are crucial in controlling global climate must be avoided “at all costs”, senior scientists have warned. The alert follows the revelation [last] week that the system is at its weakest ever recorded. Past collapses of the giant network have seen some of the most extreme impacts in climate history, with western Europe particularly vulnerable to a descent into freezing winters. A significantly weakened system is also likely to cause more severe storms in Europe, faster sea level rise on the east coast of the US and increasing drought in the Sahel in Africa.
‘Renewable energy breeding’ can stop Australia blowing the carbon budget – if we’re quick | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – Moving to a future powered mainly by renewable energy will be crucial if we are to stay within the global warming limits set out by the Paris Agreement. But building all of this new renewable energy will initially require fossil fuels to help power all of the necessary mining, construction and decommissioning. This raises the question as to whether the energy transition itself will be pointless.
At some point, climate change must be injected into the energy debate | SMH
AUSTRALIA – Even before the weekend heatwave and the unseasonable Sydney bushfires in mid-April, the Bureau of Meteorology’s climate experts had clearly seen enough. The bureau broke with tradition at the end of last week and released a Special Climate Statement, before the remarkable autumn heatwave of 2018 had fully subsided. With more records since, an update is likely within days. Notable numbers include Australia beat its previous hottest April day by more than 0.6 degrees, with the whole country averaging just a tad under 35 degrees on April 9.
Related: NEG high level design document at a glance | RenewEconomy
ACT takes lead in transition to electric vehicles | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The ACT Government has doubled up on its commitment to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2020 by announcing the country’s most ambitious transition plans to electric vehicles, including a new requirement that all newly leased government vehicles will be zero emissions from 2021. The requirement was outlined as part of a new transport strategy unveiled by energy minister Shane Rattenbury. The initiatives include a study of solar-powered charging stations in car parks, vehicle-to-grid studies, use of transit lines, and salary sacrifice
Marine heatwaves to grow longer, stronger, more frequent | NZ Herald
NEW ZEALAND – Marine “heatwaves” like that which stoked New Zealand’s record-hot summer have become longer, stronger and more frequent over the past century – and especially in the past four decades. And with more than 90 per cent of the heat caused by global warming going into our oceans, the scientists behind a new international study say the trend will only continue.
Environment and Biodiversity
Animals’ popularity ‘a disadvantage’ | BBC News
The world’s most popular animals are in more danger than we realise, according to a new study. A survey of the public’s perceptions suggests many people are unaware that the animals they consider “charismatic” are under threat in the wild. These include lions, elephants, tigers and other animals which frequently appear in branding and advertising. Researchers suspect the animals’ media ubiquity may lead people to think they are prospering in the wild. The findings were published by an international team of scientists in PLOS Biology.
The Trump administration has officially clipped the wings of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act | The Washington Post
The Trump administration made it clear this week that it is sapping the strength of a century-old law to protect birds, issuing guidance that the law would not be used as it has been to hold people or companies accountable for killing the animals.
Economy and Business
5 food trends that are changing Latin America | The Conversation
Latin America’s economy has grown enormously over the past two decades. However, unemployment in the region still hovers at 8 percent, double that of the United States… Some Latin American restaurateurs think they can help. These pioneering chefs are stepping out of the kitchen and into public service, going beyond feeding customers to creating jobs, boosting economies and preventing violence. This movement – dubbed “social gastronomy” by Brazilian chef David Hertz – is the focus of my academic research on the politics of food. Here are five Latin American culinary ventures you should know about.
Waste and the Circular Economy
Australia needs to start recycling and reusing its own waste, says industry struggling under China’s ban | ABC News
The waste industry has reached crisis point several months into the Chinese waste ban, and stakeholders want immediate action. The industry is calling for assistance to help it transition to a so-called ‘circular economy’ where waste would be collected, processed and then reused to make new products here in Australia. Recyclers say if we do not do it recycling rates will drop, causing serious environmental harm as more waste gets dumped in landfill.
Hidden plastics: just when you thought it was safe to dunk a teabag | The Guardian
Five surprising objects that contain plastic – with toxic implications for the environment
Politics and Society
Is ‘green living’ a luxury affordable only to the middle and upper classes? | ABC News
Is environmentalism a luxury of the latte-sipping rich? Are working-class people unconcerned with ‘big issues’ like climate change and sustainable energy? When it comes to the environment, battlelines have been drawn between the rich and poor. Take the Adani debate as an example — one side of the argument is often cast as ‘callous job haters’, the other as ‘reef destroying fat cats’. There is some statistical evidence of an environmental class divide — studies suggest the people who are most interested in environmental issues are well-educated and left leaning.
Horror and fear grip survivors of Congo’s hidden war | Thomson Reuters Foundation
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO – The last thing 11-year-old Mave Grace saw before falling unconscious was men with machetes cutting open her pregnant mother’s belly and killing the unborn child. When Grace woke she was surrounded by dead bodies. Her left hand was cut off just above the wrist. “Around us we saw corpses everywhere,” Mave Grace says. Wearing a green patterned dress, she squints into the sun as she holds up her handless arm, the scabs of the stump still not fully healed.
A Data Drought Hampers Cities from Acting on Climate Change | World Resources Institute
Imagine you’re a local sustainability officer developing an initiative to reduce emissions. But you don’t know how many emissions the city produces, or where they’re coming from. You don’t know who the city’s biggest energy users are, how many cars are on the road, or the amount of waste produced every year. And even if you can set goals for reducing emissions, you have no way of measuring progress against them. This is a situation far too many policymakers and city officials face every day. While cities occupy only 2 percent of the world’s land, they account for 70 percent of global emissions. Lacking the right data to take action puts them—and the whole world—in jeopardy.
Auckland public transport about to get greener | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – Auckland’s public transport is about to get greener as electric buses are set to hit the road. Two buses will be on trial, funded by the Government’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and Auckland Transport (AT). Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter on Friday launched the buses, which will operate on the CBD’s City Link service from next week.
Rivers of gravel are drying up, causing spiralling costs for roadworks | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – The cost of keeping roads pothole-free has doubled in some parts of New Zealand as over-excavation of river beds has led to a chronic shortage of gravel. Rivers don’t just offer a multitude of recreational opportunities, they also supply most of the gravel used to keep our roads in good working order. But some rivers in New Zealand have had so many tonnes of stones dug out of them they are no longer producing gravel.
How palm oil has permeated your weekly shop | Stuff.co.nz
Last November, the managing director of British supermarket chain Iceland made a visit to the Kalimantan rainforests in Borneo. Richard Walker, whose parents founded the frozen food firm in 1970, says he wanted to see the impact of the palm oil industry at first hand. The 37-year-old recalls encountering a “horizon to horizon monoculture” of palm trees where pristine rainforest once stood. Illegal deforestation and draining of peat bogs were further expanding the plantations, which manufacture an oil now used in a staggering 50 per cent of all supermarket products, from the cereal to the soap aisle.