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Tuesday 19 July 2016

Sustainable Development News

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

India Plants 50 Million Trees in One Day, Smashing World Record
Although the feat has yet to be certified by Guinness World Records, Indian officials have reported that volunteers planted a whopping 49.3 million tree saplings on July 11, blowing past the previous record for most trees planted in a single day. That record, a mere 847,275 trees, was set by Pakistan in 2013.  A reported 800,000 volunteers from Uttar Pradesh worked for 24 hours planting 80 different species of trees along roads, railways, and on public land. The saplings were raised on local nurseries.

Energy and Climate Change

It’s not easy being green, especially when affordable help is so hard to find
The transition to a clean energy future is upon us, as shown by the huge uptake of solar panels and by the Turnbull government’s decision to set up a A$1 billion Clean Energy Innovation Fund. But what about those people who are at risk of being left behind? Our survey of lower-income households shows that information about low-carbon living is often difficult to access, and that assistance is sometimes misdirected.

UN criticises UK and Germany for betraying Paris climate deal
Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas.

Environment and Biodiversity

Farming and forestry can deliver food security, says UN
Improving co-operation between nations’ farming and forestry sectors will help reduce deforestation and improve food security, a UN report has suggested. Between 2000 and 2010, tropical nations saw net forest loss of seven million hectares per year and a net gain in farmland of six million hectares. Collaboration between the sectors would reduce environmental damage and improve social and economic outcomes, it said. The report says policies that recognise eco-services can help protect forests.

9 new natural sites added to World Heritage List
The World Heritage Committee yesterday added nine new natural sites to the World Heritage List during its 40th session in Turkey. The list includes diverse landscapes such as Khangchendzonga National Park in India, a cultural and natural site home to endangered species such as the snow leopard and musk deer; Canada’s Mistaken Point, known for its unique, diverse and well-preserved fossils; and Iran’s Lut Desert, noted for its remarkable variety of desert landforms.

Iraqi marshlands named as Unesco world heritage site
Unesco has named Iraqi marshlands once ravaged by dictator Saddam Hussein as a world heritage site, a bright spot for a country where jihadists have repeatedly sought to wipe out history. The area named “is made up of seven sites: three archaeological sites and four wetland marsh areas in southern Iraq,” Unesco said.

A marsh Arab man paddles a boat loaded with reeds at the Chebayesh marsh in Nassiriya, Iraq. Photograph: Saad Shalash/Reuters

A marsh Arab man paddles a boat loaded with reeds at the Chebayesh marsh in Nassiriya, Iraq. Photograph: Saad Shalash/Reuters

Adapt or die: Climate change puts pressure on NZ’s paua
Nothing can escape climate change, not even one of New Zealand’s national treasures – the paua. Scientists around the world are worried about the devastating impact acidification of the ocean is having on shellfish. A new international study indicates mussel farming will not be commercially viable by 2100, and there are concerns the same could happen to the country’s rainbow-shelled species. A New Zealand fishery at the top of the South Island has seen the worst paua numbers in recent times. It’s at the point where the Government has proposed either a 40 or 60 per cent reduction in commercial take in order to rebuild the fishery.

Economy and Business

Blockchains could help restore trust in the food we choose to eat
…Real time temperature monitoring and smart fridges in homes can help reduce waste. But a relatively new innovation, the blockchain, is seen by many as offering significant opportunities within agricultural supply chains. Blockchains are the technology that underpin cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, but they have uses other than currencies. They record information in a distributed ledger in a way that is both secure and immutable; by being distributed among many users these ledgers are resilient with no single point of failure, and they can be (depending on design), transparent to all users.

Achieving Higher Value Chain Efficiency Through Product Life Cycle Analytics
In a first of its kind initiative, CDP has collected the largest publicly available dataset of supply chain carbon emissions across the world through its Supply Chain Program. Focusing on the reported product-level emissions in that dataset, CoClear ran detailed analytics of the life cycle assessments (LCAs) of 546 products (170 in 2013, 185 in 2014, and 191 in 2015). This unique analysis spans 108 companies across 26 countries and 29 GICS Industry Groups.  A study of this breadth conclusively answers the recurrent business question: What level of emissions and corresponding cost can really be saved by understanding one’s entire value chain?

If carbon pricing is so great, why isn’t it working?
Earth’s atmosphere has long served as a free dump for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases generated by humans. That is changing as policy-makers embrace economists’ advice that the best way to cut greenhouse gas emissions is to charge an atmospheric disposal fee. As a result, governments are increasingly tacking on a price for carbon when fossil fuels are sold and/or consumed, allowing their economies to internalize some of the social and economic costs associated with burning coal, oil and natural gas… What carbon pricing pioneers have yet to prove, however, is that it can deliver on its potential.

California’s RPS Generating Thousands of Clean Energy Blue-Collar Jobs
California’s aggressive climate policies — combined with the sheer size of its economy — have helped it create the most clean energy jobs of any state in the country, according to a new study by the UC Berkeley Labor Center. The report, The Link Between Good Jobs and a Low Carbon Future, says the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) — California’s principal climate policy — has created 25,500 blue-collar job years — or around 53 million hours of blue-collar construction work. Many of these jobs have been created in regions of the state where they are most needed, with high unemployment and low income.

Why Apple is buying and protecting forests
The [article] is excerpted from a speech, as prepared for delivery, given Friday by Lisa P. Jackson, vice president, environment, policy and social initiatives  at Apple, to Law Seminars International’s Natural Resource Damages Conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It was the first time Apple has talked publicly about the legal construct of its forestry projects, both in the United States and China.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Singapore to install sustainable packaging regulations
At the CleanEnviro Summit Singapore conference on 10 – 14 July 2016, Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources declared that companies need to minimise packaging waste. The Minister, Masagos Zulkifli, announced the introduction of new mandatory requirements for the use of sustainable resources in packaging, and to reduce packaging waste within companies in the next three to five years by the Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA).

Politics and Society

Brexit, ‘deglobalization’ and the stakes of systems in chaos
[Post-Brexit,] what are the implications for sustainable development, globalization and democracy? These may seem overblown questions in the wake of recent events in a small country off the coast of a region that has been fading in relative geopolitical significance. But I’m not the only one seeing Britain’s self-inflicted injuries in recent weeks as profoundly worrying signals that current forms of globalization are time-expired — and under existential threat.

Over 100,000 Sign 16-Year-Old’s Petition Urging Clinton, Trump to End U.S. Fossil Fuel Use by 2026
16-year-old climate activist Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is petitioning the 2016 U.S. presidential candidates to take a strong stance on ending climate change. In a Care2 petition and a corresponding video letter, Martinez is urging the candidates to pledge to end fossil fuel use in the U.S. by 2026. The petition attracted over 100,000 signatures in its first week online…  “My generation can no longer stand by while climate change is treated like a partisan talking point. Our nation is out of time for debate. Nearly 200 nations agreed to action in Paris — will your administration work with them, or turn your back on them?” the petition letter reads.

Greg Hunt out, Josh Frydenberg in as federal environment minister
AUSTRALIA – Josh Frydenberg will take Greg Hunt’s federal environment portfolio following a frontbench reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Monday. The move sees Mr Frydenberg give the resources portfolio to Nationals senator Matt Canavan to become minister for the environment and energy.

Environment merger could signal change
AUSTRALIA – Environment groups are optimistic merging the federal energy and environment portfolios could transition Australia away from dirty power to renewables. But some are warning appointing a minister formerly in charge of the mining sector could be a disaster for the nation’s environment.

Concerns mount over Andrea Leadsom’s suitability for environment role
UK – Andrea Leadsom’s appointment as environment secretary has raised significant concerns among senior environmental and agricultural figures over her suitability for the role.  Leadsom’s lack of top-level political experience, absence of track record in farming or environmental areas and ideological approach to policy are all cited as fears. However, her junior ministers are viewed more favourably in terms of tackling the enormous challenges faced by her department.

See also:

Built Environment

Low carbon housing – fast-tracking the way to change through dialogue
Recently at a national housing forum organised by the CRC for Low Carbon Living, the Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council and the University of South Australia, there was unanimous agreement by representatives of the housing sector, industry, government and research who attended, that urgent and significant action should be taken to reduce carbon emissions in this area. The forum, which is part of a CRCLCL series on low carbon issues being held over the next few months, was designed to bring industry groups together to explore opportunities to improve the energy productivity of the residential sector and move forward on a plan facilitating the transition to a low carbon economy.

Getting more Aucklanders on their bikes (Audio 9:24)
NEW ZEALAND – In Auckland, the number of people cycling into the central city in Auckland has doubled in three years. Auckland Transport puts part of that down to its pink lightpath, which it says 750 people cycle on each day. And there are more specialist cycling paths planned for our biggest city. Auckland Transport’s chief cycling planner Kathryn King joins Jesse in the studio on the push to get more Aucklanders out of their cars and onto their bikes.

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