Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Today’s top story discusses the need for business to lead on critical issues, such as climate change and its written by the chair of the Australian Coal Association.  Other news to highlight includes a critical look at an Australian draft ‘Strategy for Nature’, a study finds more than 90% of bottled water contains particles of plastic, and a discussion about being fair to ideas that don’t fit your worldview by looking at the facts, not dismissing them out of hand.

Top Story

If business leaders want to regain our trust, they must act upon climate risk | The Guardian (Opinion)
Business leaders seem astonished that community trust in their activities is at an all-time low, trending toward the bottom of the barrel inhabited by politicians. To the corporate leader dedicated to the capitalist, market economy success story of the last 50 years, that attitude is no doubt incomprehensible and downright ungrateful. But it is hardly surprising given continuing scandals and declining ethics across the corporate and banking worlds, driven by the pernicious impact of short-termism, rising inequality and undue political influence; in large part the outcome of the oxymoron of “pay-for-performance” remuneration. So how is trust regained?

Climate Change and Energy

It’s 50 years since climate change was first seen. Now time is running out | The Guardian (Opinion)
Fifty years ago, the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) delivered a report titled Sources, Abundance, and Fate of Gaseous Atmospheric Polluters to the American Petroleum Institute (API), a trade association for the fossil fuel industry. The report, unearthed by researchers at the Center for International Environmental Law, is one of the earliest attempts by the industry to grapple with the impacts of rising CO2 levels, which Stanford’s researchers warned if left unabated “could bring about climatic changes” like temperature increases, melting of ice caps and sea level rise.

Fostering Effective Energy Transition | World Economic Forum
The first edition of the Fostering Effective Energy Transition report, prepared with analytical support from McKinsey & Company, is part of the World Economic Forum System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Energy. The report introduces the “Energy Transition Index”, which builds upon the previous series of “Global Energy Architecture Performance Index” by adding a forward looking element of country readiness for energy transition. The index benchmarks 114 countries on the current level of their energy system performance, and the readiness of their macro environment for transition to a secure, sustainable, affordable and inclusive future energy system.

Gupta gets $10 million SA loan to trump Tesla’s big battery | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The South Australia state government is to provide a $10 million loan to help UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta trump fellow US billionaire Elon Musk and build an even bigger battery at Port Whyalla. The SIMEC ZEN battery plan has been in the pipeline for some time – and was originally flagged before Musk landed the contract to build the world’s biggest lithium ion battery, the 100MW/129MWh installation at the Hornsdale Power Reserve that opened in December.

US coal hasn’t set aside enough money to clean up its mines | Climate Home News
USA – As the US coal industry winds down, does it have enough money set aside to clean up the vast pits, walls and broken mountains left behind? A Climate Home News investigation has found the answer is no. Particularly in Appalachia, the land, water and health of mining communities have been put at risk by a critically underfunded system supposed to clean up after mines close.


Massive strip mines dig into the coal seams of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. The basin, which also extends north into Montana, accounts for about 40% of the country’s coal production

Massive strip mines dig into the coal seams of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. The basin, which also extends north into Montana, accounts for about 40% of the country’s coal production

See also: Reclaiming coal: US mines’ clean-up cash – all our data | Climate Home News

Environment and Biodiversity

Australia’s draft ‘Strategy for nature’ doesn’t cut it. Here are nine ways to fix it | The Conversation
AUSTRALIA – The federal government has released a draft document, Australia’s strategy for nature 2018–2030, for public comment. This is a welcome step, but regrettably the strategy falls a long way short of what’s required and contains significant flaws. It contains no firm commitments or measurable targets, and overlooks a substantial amount of relevant scientific evidence.  As representatives of Australia’s peak professional ecological body, the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA), we are deeply concerned that the strategy is not fit for its purpose of protecting Australia’s biodiversity.

Endangered sharks, dolphins and rays killed by shark net trial | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Shark nets on the New South Wales north coast have caught just a single target shark in the past two months, while continuing to trap or kill dolphins, turtles, and protected marine life. A single bull shark was caught in the nets around Ballina in January and February, while 55 other animals were either killed or trapped.  The nets killed four great hammerheads, a harmless shark that is listed as a “vulnerable” species, as well as a common dolphin and an Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Plastic particles found in ‘brand after brand’ of bottled water study | NZ Herald
Plastic is such a “pervasive” material that nearly every branded bottle of water tested in the largest investigation of its kind contained tiny particles of it. Scientists who carried out the examination of more than 250 bottles from nine countries said their analysis found plastic “in bottle after bottle and brand after brand”. The tests, which were conducted at the State University of New York in Fredonia, found that there were typically 10 plastic particles per litre of bottled water. Each particle is larger than the width of a human hair.
See also: WHO launches health review after microplastics found in 90% of bottled water | The Guardian

Politics and Society

Population pressure: How many kids should you have? – Big Australia | ABC News
With Australia’s population heading toward 40 million people by the middle of the century, and global figures growing by 80 million every year, some people may find themselves wondering whether they should have children. The impact our growing population has on the environment — from polluted city air and dying rivers to cleared forests and disappearing species — is something that can keep you awake at night. So how many children should you have if you care about the planet? We sought out five perspectives on this thorny question.

Don’t shoot the messenger when confronted with inconvenient ideas | The Conversation
In August 2017, James Damore, a Google software engineer, was fired for writing an internal memo that offered views about sex-related differences in interests and emotions. Damore had suggested that part of the over-representation of men in software engineering at Google might be due to psychological differences between women and men: not intellectual differences, but differences in what activities the sexes find attractive and enjoyable. He argued that Google should focus on equality of opportunity for individuals, without necessarily expecting equality of outcomes across its workforce. Damore’s firing from Google was an example of an increasing intolerance of inconvenient or controversial ideas within democratic societies.

Hope from chaos: could political upheaval lead to a new green epoch? | The Conversation
Continuing with today’s ineffective “mitigation”, delusion and fear will bequeath many humans and other species decades and even centuries of climatic instability. This preference for short-term hedonism (for the few) over longer-term planetary stewardship is essentially an active choice for politically expedient incrementalism over revolutionary change. The latter is a prerequisite of meeting our Paris commitments – but can such rapid change ever be more than a “romantic illusion”?

Articulate US teenagers could finally force action on gun control | The Conversation
On Wednesday in the US, thousands of students left their classrooms in a national day of action designed to force political change on gun crime. Following the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, this walkout is part of an extraordinary national movement. Young people across the US are doing what countless others have tried and failed to do: using grassroots strategies to take on the powerful gun lobby.

Australians want community consent on mining | CSIRO
AUSTRALIA – A new national survey on citizen attitudes toward mining shows that three-quarters of Australians think mining companies should gain consent from local communities before development. The CSIRO report also shows that while most Australians accept mining and hold positive views about its role in contributing to the nation’s economy, they hold low levels of trust in in the industry, don’t feel they have a voice in shaping the industry’s practices or faith in the governance surrounding mining.

Mount Morgan abandoned mine site brings environmentalists and farmers together | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – It’s not often you hear environmentalists and farmers asking government to help out a mining company — but that’s what’s happening in central Queensland as a resources project hangs in the balance. Since 2014, Australian company Carbine Resources has been working on a proposal to pull copper, pyrite and gold tailings from one of Queensland’s biggest abandoned mines.

Built Environment

Code-compliant 3D-printed house built in a day | The Fifth Estate
It’s almost inconceivable – a computer-programmed spout, attached to a 3D printer set on tracks, extruding concrete that hardens as it builds a house (or the shell of it, minus the roof) in under 24 hours, for less than US$4000 (AU$5078). That’s the goal for not-for-profit called New Story, which is working together with construction technologies company ICON to mass produce 3D-printed homes that can be used as affordable housing solutions.

Code compliant 3d printed house


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