Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Just when you thought the Adani coal mine was dead in the ground, it pops up again saying financing has finally been secured and development will soon go ahead. In other news, a new study shows the rate of growth on Great Barrier Reef has decreased over the past two decades, further putting it at risk; who knew New Zealand has more than 100 species of lizard; tourism can put major pressures on society and the environment if not managed well, or at all; and clearing up the debate over whether we need to listen to hate speech.

Top Story

Adani says it still needs a loan for rail line if coalmine is to go ahead | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Adani says its Carmichael coalmine remains contingent on a loan to build a rail line to the Galilee Basin – comments that analysts believe will ramp up pressure on the Australian government to further subsidise the project. Karan Adani, the son of company boss Gautam Adani, and the head of the conglomerate’s ports business, told India’s Economic Times the company had “completed financing on the mine” and that it had received all necessary approvals. He said Adani was “just closing” a loan to pay for a rail line connecting the Galilee Basin to the Abbot Point port. “Once that is done, we will start,” he said.

Climate Change

Meat and dairy emissions on course to become world’s biggest polluter | BusinessGreen
First-of-its-kind study warns meat and dairy consumption must be curbed to meet international climate targets The meat and dairy industry is on track to become the world’s biggest single contributor to climate change in the coming decades, according to new research. Emissions from the sector’s five biggest global producers already surpass that of fossil fuel giants such as ExxonMobil, Shell or BP, according to first-of-its-kind analysis of industrial meat and dairy corporations by US-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP).

Canada’s high Arctic glaciers at risk of disappearing completely, study finds | The Guardian
Hundreds of glaciers in Canada’s high Arctic are shrinking and many are at risk of disappearing completely, an unprecedented inventory of glaciers in the country’s northernmost island has revealed.

In northern Ellesmere Island, the annual average temperature in the region increased by 3.6C between 1948 and 2016. Photograph: Adrienne White

In northern Ellesmere Island, the annual average temperature in the region increased by 3.6C between 1948 and 2016. Photograph: Adrienne White

Environment and Biodiversity

UN and Google team up to monitor environmental damage | Climate Action Programme
UN Environment has announced a partnership with Google to provide trackable data on human impacts on the environment. The goal of the new partnership is to provide countries, NGOs, and the public with unprecedented levels of access to data through a platform that monitors environmental changes.

Great Barrier Reef coral recovery slows significantly over 18-year period | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – Over the last three decades the Great Barrier Reef has been hit by a series of intense cyclones, bleaching, crown of thorn starfish outbreaks and flood events that have caused well-documented, but reparable damage. Scientists have hoped that an extended period of benign conditions would allow the natural processes of reef restoration to flourish, and many of the hardest-hit regions to return to a healthier, more colourful and biodiverse state. But a new study of coral-recovery rates based on 18 years of data and published in Science Advances today, found the ability of many corals to bounce back after disturbance has significantly slowed down.

Water quality was a chronic stressor impeding recovery rates. (Supplied: NASA)

Water quality was a chronic stressor impeding recovery rates. (Supplied: NASA)

New Zealand: Land of the lizards |
Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, could also be mistaken for the land of the reptiles. New Zealand has more than 110 species of lizards found nowhere else in the world (endemic). This list continues to grow, as current information is being attained through DNA analysis along with new field discoveries.

Jeff Bryant with a Forest Gecko at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. Photo: Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Jeff Bryant with a Forest Gecko at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary. Photo: Martin De Ruyter/Stuff

Pest busters aim to trim old man’s beard with insects |
NEW ZEALAND – At least four different methods of eradicating the creeper Clematis vitalba have been tried… but it has managed to persist despite millions of dollars a year being spent on control. But now 14 regional councils and the Department of Conservation are pinning their hopes on a gall mite to suck out the plant’s juices and kill it, and have applied to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to introduce the insect.

Wildfires rage in Arctic Circle as Sweden calls for help | The Guardian
At least 11 wildfires are raging inside the Arctic Circle as the hot, dry summer turns an abnormally wide area of Europe into a tinderbox. The worst affected country, Sweden, has called for emergency assistance from its partners in the European Union to help fight the blazes, which have broken out across a wide range of its territory and prompted the evacuations of four communities.

Economy and Business

Shorter working week is ‘good for the soul’ | RNZ News
NEW ZEALAND – Employees who took part in a four-day working week trial said the quality of their lives was immeasurably improved and they still got the job done. Financial services firm Perpetual Guardian trialled the short working week with its 240 employees over eight weeks earlier this year. They cut their working time to a four-day week but got paid for a full week. Employees said while they had reservations about how the trial would work, the results were life changing.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Closed Loop launches Circulate Capital to take on ocean plastics in Asia | GreenBiz
Closed Loop Partners today is announcing a new venture, Circulate Capital, to invest in companies, innovations and projects that prevent marine plastic waste originating in Asia. Like Closed Loop, which was founded in 2014 to invest in recycling infrastructure in order to put more recycled materials back into manufacturing supply chains, Circulate Capital, which is an independent spinout, will focus on jumpstarting waste management and recycling infrastructures — in this case, in South and Southeast Asia.

How Penzance became Britain’s first ever plastic-free town | The Guardian
UK – The Cornwall community achieved this status last December, by uniting against straws, bottles, takeaway boxes and disposable forks. Now 330 other towns aim to follow them.

Plastic poses biggest threat to seabirds in New Zealand waters, where more breed than elsewhere | The Conversation
NEW ZEALAND – Plastic pollution has the potential to cause the worst damage to seabirds in the seas around Aotearoa New Zealand, where many of them come to feed and breed. Aotearoa boasts the greatest diversity of seabirds in the world. Of the 360 global seabird species, 86 breed here and 37 are endemic, which means they breed nowhere else. Some 90% of New Zealand’s seabirds are threatened with extinction. They (and many other marine species) are under pressure from pollution, climate change, and overexploitation of marine resources. Plastic pollution could be the final nail in the coffin for many seabirds that are already struggling for survival.

Councils back move to charge significantly higher fees for dumping rubbish |
NEW ZEALAND – The amount of money Kiwis pay to dump rubbish at landfills could soon quadruple. Councils across the country are calling for an increase to the $10 waste disposal levy the Government currently charges on every tonne of rubbish disposed of in landfills – one of the lowest levies in the world.

What is rubbish and what is recycling? Test yourself with this quiz | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – When it comes to recycling, it’s easy to get confused about what can and can’t go into which colourful kerbside bin. The rubbish rules tend to vary by council, so it’s always best to check with your local authority about which rules apply to you. This can often lead to confusion when people think of what bin to put it in. So here’s a little quiz to test how much you think you know before chucking your rubbish away.

Politics and Society

Overtourism: a growing global problem | The Conversation
The summer holidays are in full swing – and protests against overtourism have begun (yet again) in a number of popular European cities. Overtourism is not a new problem. Barcelona, in particular, is at the centre of these mounting concerns about the rapid growth of tourism in cities, especially during peak holiday periods. In fact, Destination Barcelona estimates that there were 30m overnight visitors in 2017, compared to a resident population of 1,625,137.

Kyoto: beautiful view, shame about the crowds. Shutterstock

Kyoto: beautiful view, shame about the crowds. Shutterstock

Jan Thomas: Free speech is welcome at universities, hate speech is not | NZ Herald (Comment)
An “alt right” speaking event in Auckland has been cancelled after Mayor Phil Goff made it clear the two speakers, Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, were not welcome and the council would not provide a venue for “hate speech” by people who sought to abuse and insult others. While I support Mr Goff’s decision, it has kicked off a tide of controversy and has again raised the issue of what differentiates free speech from hate speech… Freedom of expression is one thing, but hate speech is another. As a concept that has now entered common parlance, hate speech refers to attacks based on race, ethnicity, religion, and increasingly, on sexual orientation or preference.

Youth message on Zero Carbon Act: ‘Don’t mess this up’ | RNZ News
NEW ZEALAND – The young New Zealanders credited with driving momentum for a Zero Carbon Act have implored MPs not to mess it up in the final stages. Youth-movement Generation Zero last night formally handed over their submission on the proposed law to MPs from the Labour, Green and National parties. Roughly two years ago, the group began campaigning for legislation to set the country on a path to be carbon neutral by 2050.
Related: Councils unsure where to start on climate threat – scientist | NZ Herald

Consultation on the Zero Carbon Bill closes TODAY. People can make submissions via the Ministry for the Environment website.

How the politics of fear fuelled the DIY power boom | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – After a decade of toxic political debate around climate change, carbon pricing and energy policy, Australian consumers are increasingly taking control of their own power. The proportion of solar customers in the National Energy Market (NEM) was fewer than 0.2 per cent in 2007-08. Just 10 years later it’s 12 per cent and rising.

Built Environment

Are young people going cool on cars? | BBC News
UK – Could you live without a car? Reya al-Salahi from London asked herself this question when she moved into a car-free development, but over the past year she’s been fine. Lil Boyer from Dorset says she can’t use rural buses because they are “rubbish” – but she’s embarrassed to drive so much. They are part of a trend of young people going cool on the car.

Food Systems

‘You count your blessings’: farm families battling drought – photo essay | The Guardian
It’s a pretty tough old time,” says Coonabarabran farmer Ambrose Doolan. “But if you’re working with your family and everyone is looking out for each other, you count your blessings.” In the central-west region of New South Wales, farmers continue to battle a crippling drought that many locals are calling the worst since 1902. In Warrumbungle shire, where sharp peaks fall away to once fertile farmland, the small town of Coonabarabran is running out of water. The town dam has fallen to 23% of its capacity and residents are living with level-six water restrictions. There are real fears the town will run dry.

An aerial view of the cattle-feeding operation

An aerial view of the cattle-feeding operation