Sustainable Development News

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

Close to 100 million people affected by hottest year ever
El Niño played a major role in the extreme climatic conditions, which led to disaster in many parts of the world. Out of approximately 98.6 million people caught up in disasters last year, an incredible 92% were caused by adverse climatic conditions, according to a new UN report.

Energy and Climate Change

Brian Fallow: Nibbling at climate change
NEW ZEALAND – Under its current settings, the Government admits, the Emissions Trading Scheme has made virtually no difference to business investment decisions. And with an impact, until very recently, of a fraction of a cent on prices at the pump, it probably doesn’t affect households very much either. Now, people have until next Friday to make submissions on whether to get rid of one of the (many) features that have stultified the scheme.

Oil exploration company Mont D’Or keen to meet d’Urville Island communities
NEW ZEALAND – An oil exploration company will meet with residents of French Pass and d’Urville Island before it starts any nearby offshore drilling.  The Singaporean-based Mont D’Or Resources has been granted a 12-year offshore exploration permit within a 781 square kilometre area, north west of d’Urville Island, from April this year.

Fiji becomes first country in the world to ratify Paris agreement
Fiji has become the first country in the world to formally approve the UN climate deal agreed by 195 nations in Paris in December. The island nation’s parliament unanimously agreed to ratify the Paris agreement on Friday, according to local news reports.

Nuclear commission findings spell more trouble for wind and solar in Australia
The South Australian Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle has conceded that nuclear power is not a viable alternative for Australia, but has urged authorities to consider it anyway – in what could have serious implications for the roll out of renewable energy across the country.

Victorian network signs up to help rural community go 100% renewable
AUSTRALIA – Is this a sign of the future? Of a new business model for utilities? Victorian network operator Powercor has signed a landmark agreement with a community group in the regional town of Newstead to support its transition to 100 per cent renewable, locally generated energy.

Redflow’s Hackett: Why batteries will not cause mass defection from grid
There’s a popular belief that the looming presence of batteries in people’s homes will lead to the widespread defection of those customers from the power grid. In this view, living the dream means grid-independence where you harvest your own energy, one-finger salute the power companies and, when grid power fails for others in the street, your battery keeps the party going at your house. While cutting the power cord sounds good in theory, in practice consumers gain many more advantages from staying connected to the grid.

Environment and Biodiversity

This Government Program’s Job Is to Kill Wildlife
Wildlife Services is a federal agency under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it specializes in killing wild animals that threaten livestock—especially predators such as coyotes, wolves, and cougars. Outside the ranching community, few have heard of Wildlife Services.

Contamination levels still high in Tamaki Estuary
NEW ZEALAND – Apart from the odd visiting fish, little marine life now exists in one of Auckland’s major estuaries. A recent Auckland Council report shows Tamaki Estuary has contamination levels so high they are harmful to aquatic life. This report, called the State of the Environment 2015, looks at Auckland’s overall environmental health.

Economy and Business

BP’s energy outlook barely changed after Paris climate agreement
A year has passed since the last BP energy outlook. In that time, 195 countries have sealed a global climate change agreement in Paris which promises to achieve net zero emissions this century. Yet the 2016 BP energy outlook, published this week, shows the oil company’s views on the shape and direction of energy demand over the next 20 years have barely shifted.

Statements from Companies and Investors in Support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan in Wake of Supreme Court Ruling
Over 365 businesses and investors support the Clean Power Plan. Hear what some of these leaders have to say.

The Challenge of Authentic Purpose
I was absolutely delighted to read the recent announcement from Sustainable Brands CEO KoAnn Vikoren Skrzyniarz revealing that the theme of SB ‘16 San Diego will be ‘activating purpose.’ This year’s event is dedicated to helping businesses and brands move from understanding why purpose-driven brand leadership is the path to success in the 21st century to actually learning how to bring that purpose to life.

Construction firm uses driver tracking device to slash emissions
J. Murphy & Sons (Murphy) fitted 1,900 of its commercial vehicles with vehicle tracking technology which monitors the speed, idling time and journey routes its drivers were taking. The London-based firm then held workshops for its drivers, to encourage more fuel-efficient driving, using the information from the tracking software to flag up good and bad practice.\

Oil and gas industry should prepare for low-carbon energy transition, warns PwC
Industry needs to look beyond current crisis of low prices and consider long-term implications of low-carbon energy transition, new report argues  Oil and gas companies need to see past the current problems caused by low commodity prices and focus on the wider mega-trends that will reshape the future of the energy industry in the long term, according to a report released today by consultancy giant PwC.

Politics and Society

Europe’s climate change goals ‘need profound lifestyle changes’
European countries should prepare for a far-reaching debate on the “profound lifestyle changes” required to limit climate change, according to a leaked European commission document. The commission will tell foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday that a Europe-wide debate is needed on how to limit global warming to 1.5C, according to a staff working document for ministers seen by the Guardian.\

Health Check: six tips for losing weight without fad diets
Monday – start diet. Tuesday – break diet! Wednesday – plan to start again next Monday. If this is you, it’s probably time to get off the diet roller coaster and make some bigger changes to the way you eat, drink and think about food. Here are six tips to help you get started.

CSIRO cuts: climate science really does need to shift its focus towards adaptation
AUSTRALIA – Climate scientists have recently been outraged by job losses within CSIRO. Sixty climate jobs are likely to be lost. Chief executive Larry Marshall has said the reaction to the cuts from scientists has been “more like religion that science”. Well, in certain respects, he has a point. In reaction to the cuts, scientists are making claims about their ability to predict the future, and are failing to consider the politics of climate science.

Small Island Offers Big Lessons on Clean Power
Being able to weave at night is still a novelty for Haba. Her village has had electricity for two years, thanks to a small wind farm on a hill overlooking the village. Access to electricity means women can now weave and children can study long after the sun goes down. “I started weaving after we got electricity. Before that I couldn’t do it,” Haba says through a translator. “Now I can weave until midnight.” She has saved close to US$200 as a result, which she says she’ll spend on her children’s education.

Food Systems

Is urban farming only for rich hipsters?
By leveraging environmental credentials, such as local, sustainable and transparent production, a new wave of urban agriculture enterprises are justifying a premium price. But while a higher price point might better reflect the true cost of food production and help build a viable business, it can also exclude lower income groups, fuelling perception that local, sustainably produced food is the preserve of food elitists

Animal rights group SAFE calls on Countdown to dump cage-farmed eggs
NEW ZEALAND – Animal rights group SAFE is urging Countdown supermarkets to commit to phasing out eggs from caged hens. The animal advocacy organisation, along with TV personality Suzanne Paul, is people to “show hens some love” by signing a giant Valentine’s card at an Auckland Countdown on Friday, calling on the supermarket chain to sell only barn-raised or free-range eggs.


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