Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Rachel Stewart: Are we hypocrites when it comes to flying and climate change?
In terms of climate change, the last thing Hawaii needs is another visitor inside of her. Yet, along with tens of thousands of others, here I am. As I write I’m perfecting the look of a beached whale dying of humidity poisoning. I’m told the weather is relatively cool right now. Tell my blowhole that.

Energy and Climate Change

How to help energy demand match renewable supply
Wind power accounted for 11% of UK electricity generation in 2015, providing enough electricity to meet the demand from 30% of UK households (over 8m homes). However, high levels of generation from wind power can sometimes lead to problems. During the summer – when electricity use tends to be lower – there can be periods when there is not enough demand to use all of the electricity being generated. At such times, National Grid is sometimes forced to pay wind generators to reduce their output to ensure that supply matches demand. Although this helps to keep the system in balance, this ultimately leads to higher bills for electricity consumers.

2016 locked into being hottest year on record, Nasa says
Nasa has all but declared this year to be the hottest yet recorded, after September narrowly turned out the warmest in modern temperature monitoring. Last month was 0.91C above the average temperature for that time of year from 1951 to 1980, the benchmark used for measuring rises.

Sorry shock jocks but the public isn’t buying into a renewable energy panic
AUSTRALIA – Despite a concerted effort to create a panic about renewable energy following the South Australian storm, public support for ambitious renewable energy targets remains high

Adani coal mine would wipe out Direct Action gains within a year, estimates show
AUSTRALIA – Carbon cuts made by the federal government’s Direct Action climate change plan by 2020 would be wiped out by pollution from a single coal mine in just over a year, new data revealed at a Senate estimates hearing shows.

Coal city Newcastle plans 5MW solar farm as part of 30% renewable target
AUSTRALIA – Newcastle Council is seeking expressions of interest for a 5MW solar farm to be built on a closed landfill site as part of its plan to cut its emissions by 30 per cent by 2020, and to help the famous coal port city source 30 per cent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by the same date.

Environment and Biodiversity

Peru investigates death of 10,000 Titicaca water frogs
Peru’s environmental agency is investigating the deaths of some 10,000 frogs whose bodies have been found in a river in the south of the country. A campaign group says pollution in the River Coata is to blame for the deaths.  It says the government has ignored pleas for the construction of a sewage treatment plant in the area.  The Titicaca water frog is an endangered species that is found only in the huge freshwater lake shared by Peru and Bolivia and its tributaries.

Orca swim up in shallows of Canterbury’s Akaroa Harbour
NEW ZEALAND – A familiar and friendly pod of orca have been spotted up close in Akaroa. The pod were filmed cruising in Canterbury’s Akaroa Harbour on Monday afternoon. Akaroa Dolphins owner Hugh Waghorn said there were nine orca of various ages in the pod.\

Economy and Business

Five ways to get your bosses to talk sustainability
Do your bosses still treat sustainability as an afterthought or somebody else’s problem?… You have a tough job to do. But to do it well might take a bit of translation. You might express your passion to banish waste as ‘improving efficiency’. You might talk about purpose as ‘brand differentiation’. You can champion environmental and social justice by protecting your company’s license to operate.  But you should never forget that you really deal in people, not ideas. People with families and concerns for the future that provide fertile common ground. Your goal is to integrate sustainable thinking into the core operations of the business. To make it the culture.

These East African countries show how teamwork and technology can thwart illegal fishing
Early in December 2012, a South Korean vessel called the Premier entered the Indian Ocean to fish. In West Africa, authorities knew that the boat had been fishing illegally in Liberian waters before it made its way to Africa’s other coast. That raised the ire of East African countries, which weren’t keen to welcome a lawbreaker into their seas. Kenya, Tanzania, Mauritius, the Comoros, Mozambique, and the Seychelles rapidly mobilized against the vessel, shutting it out of their ports and refusing to grant it a fishing license… The beating heart of this crime-busting, resource-conserving effort was FISH-i Africa, a network of countries committed to sharing fisheries intelligence that was established in 2012 by the not-for-profit Stop Illegal Fishing.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Ontario seeks to put a cap on water bottle industry with two-year ban
CANADA – The Ontario government has proposed a two-year moratorium on the creation or expansion of bottled water operations fed by groundwater in the Canadian province, in a bid to strike a balance between a burgeoning bottled water industry, a growing population and the effects of climate change.

Politics and Society

Link between climate change and armed conflict is exaggerated – new study
A new study in the journal PNAS suggests that the link between climate change and armed conflict is overhyped. This matters because once an entirely preventable conflict is described as a “climate war” it risks being perceived as “natural”. But though the climate may be changing, these conflicts aren’t inevitable. Calling Syria a climate war, for instance, means ignoring longer-term historical tensions across the region, and lets the humans involved off the hook.

Norway faces climate lawsuit over Arctic oil exploration plans
A lawsuit has been filed against the Norwegian government over a decision to open up the Barents Sea for oil exploration which campaigners say violates the country’s constitution and threatens the Paris climate agreement. The case is being brought by an alliance including Greenpeace, indigenous activists, youth groups, and the former director of Nasa’s Goddard institute for space studies, James Hansen.

Exxon asks court to throw out New York state’s climate change case
Exxon Mobil Corp asked a federal court on Monday to throw out a subpoena from New York state that would force the oil company to hand over decades of documents as part of a wide-ranging inquiry into whether it misled investors about climate change risks.

US Senate could block landmark HFC climate treaty, legal experts warn
The jubilation and relief that flowed from United Nations climate talks in Rwanda over the weekend may be short-lived in the U.S., where legal experts say the agreement risks being blocked by Republican senators.

Treasury blocked moves to charge diesel cars to enter polluted UK cities
The Treasury blocked other government departments from charging diesel cars to enter towns and cities blighted by air pollution, documents revealed during a high court hearing on Tuesday. Legal NGO ClientEarth is challenging the government’s pollution plan, which by law should cut illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide in the “shortest possible time”. Air pollution causes 50,000 early deaths and £27.5bn in costs every year, according to the government’s own estimates, and was called a “public health emergency” by MPs in April.

Thought Leadership – Jonathon Porritt (Video 19:56)
NEW ZEALAND – Sir Jonathon Porritt is a world-leading commentator and adviser on sustainability. He shared his wisdom at events in Auckland last week. Check his keynotes on everything from wadeable water to the future of human civilisation.

Ship carrying potentially contaminated palm kernel sent home
NEW ZEALAND – A cargo ship banned from entering the country’s ports due to fears it was carrying contaminated palm kernel will not be permitted to discharge its cargo in New Zealand.  The 23,000 tonne shipment is on board the MV Molat, which has been anchored several kilometres off the Port of Tauranga since September 6.

Built Environment

In Quito, the world meets to discuss the future of cities
Up to 50,000 participants have gathered in Quito this week to discuss a New Urban Agenda at Habitat III – the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development.  The adoption of the agenda will set standards for sustainable development with a strong emphasis on social inclusion, cultural diversity, urban prosperity, urban governance, urban spatial development, and integrated urban planning including climate change.
Read also: How Habitat III hopes to kickstart a revolution in cities

Playful stormwater project in major urban design award
An architecturally-designed cyclist and pedestrian underpass, urban greening and managing stormwater in playful ways were features of some of the winners at the 2016 Australian urban Design Awards, announced in Melbourne last week.

Sydney Park Water Re-Use

Sydney Park Water Re-Use

Lonely Planet offices. Image: Siren Design

Lonely Planet offices. Image: Siren Design

Offices of the Future: what Google, Lonely Planet & Co are doing now
Timber construction, natural ventilation, the creation of a homely ambience, and smarter use of materials and space are just some of the innovations changing the office space in Australia.

Food Systems

Use of strongest antibiotics rises to record levels on European farms
According to the data from the European Medicines Agency, medicines classified as “critically important in human medicine” by the World Health Organisation appear to be in frequent use on farm animals across the major countries of the EU, including the UK. This comes in spite of WHO advice that, because of their importance, these drugs should be used only in the most extreme cases, if at all, in treating animals.


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