Friday 20 February 2015
Sustainable Development News
Latest sustainable development news from Australia and around the world.
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Energy and Climate Change
Energy-saving oven law gets warm welcome from celebrity chefs and WI
The Women’s Institute and Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens have thrown their support behind new EU rules to cut energy waste from ovens and hobs, saying they will cut emissions and bills. Under the new regulation which comes into force on Friday, low quality domestic ovens, hobs and range hoods will be phased out by 2019 in changes that the European commission says will be “invisible,” but which the New Economics Foundation estimates will save the British public £1.1bn in energy bills over the next 15 years. By 2030, those savings from gas and electric appliances would increase to an average £174m per year, with an annual reduction in carbon emissions equal to more than a million barrels of oil being burned.
Jordan’s 6,000 mosques to embrace solar power
Jordan’s 6,000 mosques will soon be running on solar power if a new government initiative proves successful. Rooftop systems will be installed on 120 mosques this year using government funding and contributions from worshippers with tenders floated to install systems at other mosques around the country, Ahmad Abu Saa of Jordan’s Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources told The Jordan Times in an interview. “Mosques use large amounts of electricity and the project will help to significantly reduce their electricity bills as around 300 days in the year are sunny,” he said. “Based on the funds that we secure, we will go ahead with the project. The more finance we get the faster the project will be implemented.”
Environment and Biodiversity
World’s coral reefs face major bleaching event this year, US agency warns
2015 could see coral bleaching on a global scale for the third time in history – and the first in the absence of an El Niño. That is the latest prediction from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), which has just launched a model to forecast threats facing the colourful reefs. “It started in 2014 – we had severe bleaching from July to October in the northern Marianas, bad bleaching in Guam, really severe bleaching in the north western Hawaiian Islands, and the first ever mass bleaching in the main Hawaiian Islands,” said said Mark Eakin, Noaa’s Coral Reef Watch coordinator.
Rescue mission restores beach safety for dotterel
New Zealand dotterel are reappearing on Waikato beaches, thanks largely to combined pest control efforts by community volunteers and work spearheaded by the Department of Conservation. It is no easy task making beaches safe for dotterel to nest and breed, as cats, stoats, ferrets and hedgehogs are all eager to make a meal of eggs and chicks. Other threats include cattle, horses, dogs, king tides and storms – and people on quad bikes. All take a toll on this plucky little bird’s chances of getting offspring safely through to fledging stage.
Economy and Business
Citigroup to invest $100bn in tackling climate change
Citigroup, the third largest US financial institution, on Wednesday said it will invest a whopping $100bn over the next decade to reduce the impacts of climate change. The bank said it will use the money the finance green initiatives and sustainable growth. The global financial corporation’s CEO Michael Corbat made the announcement at a breakfast gathering of stakeholders, employees and partner organizations in New York. The money will be used to finance large renewable-energy projects, for example, to aid greener affordable housing and to finance municipal infrastructure to reduce water waste and more, says Valerie Smith, director of corporate sustainability at Citigroup.
Yes Bank issues India’s first green bond
Yes Bank is issuing India’s first green bond as part of a programme to finance 5 gigawatts (GW) worth of renewable energy projects by 2019. India’s fourth largest private bank hopes to raise at least 500 crore rupees (US$80 million) for solar, wind, biomass and small hydro power projects. Depending on demand, that could rise to US$250 million. Rana Kapoor, chief executive of Yes Bank, said the launch “cements our status as a pioneer in green energy financing in India”. Renewable energy would create jobs, cut poverty and sustain socioeconomic development, he added. The bond represents a tiny fraction of the US$100 billion the Indian government estimates is needed for renewables over the next five years. But it is a step towards unlocking private finance for India’s renewable energy boom, which experts say will be critical to meet ambitious targets.
IKEA to make Polish operations ‘energy independent’ following wind farm deals
IKEA Group’s global commitment to invest €1.5bn in wind and solar energy by the end of this year took another leap forward today, as the company announced it has acquired a new wind farm in Poland and committed to purchase two more. The company said the investment, financial details for which were not disclosed, means its Polish operations will become ‘energy independent’ by the end of the year, meaning the firm generates more energy from renewable sources in the region than it consumes at its facilities
Waste and the Circular Economy
Report urges tech firms to embrace circular economy
As technology devices are increasingly becoming more carbon intensive, a new report is urging technology firms to embrace a circular economy business model and extend the life of mobile devices. The report – A circular economy for smart devices – comes from Green Alliance. The paper suggests that by adopting more sustainable operations technology firms could boost their sales and cut their environmental impact.
Politics and Society
A Vaccine For Global Warming
You may not immediately see the similarities between the recent measles outbreak in the U.S., and the ever-contentious hydra-headed problem of global warming. But on closer scrutiny, both come from what may seem like an insane refusal to accept facts and act in the best interests of everyone concerned. Of course, to those who militate against vaccinating their children and attack the idea of global warming as a human-induced phenomenon, their actions don’t seem insane at all. It should be clear from these two examples that we are controlled by irrational forces that have successfully created the illusion that we are not controlled by irrational forces. The problem is twofold: our beliefs blinker us to contradictory information and the blinkering takes our attention away from the original problem. One way to get around this? The vaccine method.
Dash for coal threatens Indonesia climate goal, warns IEA
A rapid expansion of coal-fired power generation threatens Indonesia’s climate goals, the International Energy Agency has warned. Persistent use of energy subsidies and unrealistic expectations for renewable energy could also undermine sustainable development in southeast Asia’s largest economy, analysts said. The largest coal exporter in the world, Indonesia plans to triple its use of the fossil fuel at home for power by 2025. Meanwhile, it is aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions 26% by 2020 compared to business as usual, or 767 million tonnes. “Clean coal” technologies, which reduce some pollutants, will be “critical” to reconcile these goals, the IEA said in an in-depth review of the country’s energy policies.
National Pass it on Week Encourages Scots to get Swapping, Sharing and Donating
This March, Scotland will promote a national week of swapping, sharing and donating, encouraging citizens to join in a re-use revolution. Pass it on Week begins on the 7th and continues through the 15th of March. The event is backed by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) in an effort to get people to pass on things they no longer want to someone else, rather than throwing them away. Locals are urged to donate items to charity, swap with friends and try out second hand goods, as part of a national week to minimize the amount of re-usable materials sent to landfill. Zero Waste Scotland is also encouraging individuals, businesses, community groups, schools, colleges, charity and re-use shops to organize events such as swap shops, clothes swaps, repair workshops and upcycling sessions to help spread the word and give people a chance to get involved.
Harvard prepares to fight fossil fuel divestment case in court
Lawyers for Harvard University will appear in court on Friday to fight off attempts to force the world’s richest university to dump coal, oil and gas companies from its $36bn (£23bn) endowment. A lawsuit filed late last year by seven law students and undergraduates argues the university has a duty to fight climate change by pulling out of fossil fuel companies. The university and the state of Massachusetts, which is also named in the lawsuit, are asking the judge to dismiss the case. But a student sit-in at the Harvard president’s offices last week – and the rapid expansion of the campus divestment movement – suggest that the university can expect continued pressure.
Zero Carbon Solution to expand its business offering
An innovative solution to powering homes all year round with solar energy is set to expand with the edition of four new partners. Zero Carbon Solution successfully completed the UK’s first fully solar powered home, named the Solar House, last year. Zero Carbon Solutions is a concept that brings three technologies – PVT solar panels, a heat pump and solar energy storage – together to achieve energy performance in new buildings impossible to attain by other means. Since its launch in February this year, the Zero Carbon Solution has seen its technology installed in a number of buildings across the country, with further projects in the pipeline.
London Formula E race is go, go, go!
London’s first all-electric Grand Prix has been given the go-ahead, bringing 220kph zero emissions race cars to the banks of the River Thames. Wandsworth Council has today approved plans for the race to be held in Battersea Park after months of negotiations with organisers Formula E, providing a green light for the creation of a 15-turn, 2.92 kilometre circuit through the park. In a surprise turn of events the London ePrix will now encompass two separate races – on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 June – increasing the calendar for the inaugural year of the zero emission motor sport series by one additional race.
Agriculture Drones Help Farmers Reduce Resource Use
Boulder, Colorado-based Agribotix is helping farmers save money and conserve water and resources in a new way: by flying drones over their fields to measure crop density, growth and many other factors. Why does this work? Because drones are able to see things that are not as obvious from the traditional line-of-sight on the ground. Agribotix, founded last year, works with farmers in Colorado like this: They send up drones over a field, fly over and capture photo, infrared and other data, and then land after about 20 minutes. The data is then transformed into maps showing where the crops are thriving and where they aren’t.
‘This is just an utter waste’ – Video shows massive trail of dead fish off Piha
A commercial fishing vessel blamed for dumping a trail of dead fish off the coast of a popular Auckland surf beach accidentally lost its catch while retrieving fishing gear, the Ministry for Primary Industries says. The unidentified boat was reported to the ministry after a recreational fisher captured “acres, and acres and acres” of dead fish in the sea west of Piha. Kerren Packer, who posted his video on Facebook, said the trail stretched “as far as the eye can see”, continuing all the way to Karekare Beach. “Prime eating gurnard, mixed in with juveniles, never had the chance to breed,” he said, as he scooped up the dead fish from the water. “This is just a complete and utter waste, absolute waste.”