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Sustainable Development News, Thursday 22 May 2014

Latest sustainable development news from Australia and around the world.
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Energy and Climate Change

US military strategists warn that climate is a ‘catalyst for conflict’
Warnings about the dangers of climate change are coming from some new and not so new places. Military, security and foreign policy advisors, financial marketeers, the White House – all have recently set out the risks in stark terms.  It is difficult to imagine a more influential set of voices – particularly among military strategists – than the ones that are now speaking out.

Australia has nothing to fear from deep global carbon cuts
There is an instinctive fear that overhauling the parts of our economies that emit greenhouse gases would spell economic doom and gloom.  But the reality is much brighter. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently reported, strong climate action would shave less than 0.1 percentage points a year off the world’s annual economic growth.  What would need to change for that to happen? What would very low-carbon lives be like, and where would our future prosperity come from? And how can we manage the transition from sunset to sunrise industries?

Santos pressed to reveal CSG drilling data on contaminated bores as farmers go to court
Farmers opposed to Santos’s coal seam operations in north-western NSW have begun legal action to force the company to reveal information about alleged contamination of two water bores near exploration wells.  The Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Association applied to the NSW Land and Environment Court on Wednesday to require Santos to release water-monitoring data related to drilling near one farmer’s property south of Narrabri. The NSW Environmental Defenders Office is representing the group.

UK carbon capture plants must get go-ahead within year, say MPs
The UK’s first carbon capture and storage (CCS) plants must be fast-tracked and get the go-ahead within a year, according to a report from MPs. It describes the technology, which traps the carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning and buries it, as “vital to limit climate change”.

India Becomes Next Hot Market For Solar and LED With New PM
Let there be indoor light.  That, in a nutshell, is the gigantic promise that new Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi has made to the country: by 2019, he wants every home in India to have at least one light bulb and have that the light bulb be powered by clean solar energy.  It’s a political promise with a lot of appeal and a massive opportunity for solar and LED providers. India is starved for power. An estimated 300 million plus people aren’t connected to the grid in India and demand for power is anticipated to double to 2020, according to various estimates.

Lismore City Council aims for 100 per cent renewables by 2023
Lismore City Council has set a 100 per cent renewable energy target, aiming to make is council electricity demands self sufficient via renewable energy sources within 10 years.  The council announced on its web-site this week that after 18 months of community consultations – where residents said they wished the council to become a “model of sustainability” – Lismore is now putting together a 10-year 2023 renewable energy master plan.

Economy and Business

Business-environment conflict now intense, Garnaut says
Economist Ross Garnaut has predicted “trench warfare” over development projects, given the influence business now has with government.  Delivering the John Freebairn lecture in Melbourne, Garnaut said it had become difficult to place scientific assessments at the centre of policy in Australia in recent times.  “Big business has never been so directly influential with government and senses that it might be a winner which takes all on environmental matters,” he said.

Shift to clean energy ensure future competitiveness – WEF exec
MANILA, Philippines—For emerging economies, the shift to risk reduction and sustainable development should no longer be a choice, said a senior officer from the World Economic Forum (WEF).   “It is almost a false choice between economics and sustainability,” Bernice Lee, WEF Director for Climate Change, said in an exclusive interview with INQUIRER.net.   Lee explained that recent events in Asia were proof to the pressing need to push for climate-resilient systems and sustainable growth.

Politics and Society

The budget shows we’re now flying blind on climate change
The word “climate” was conspicuously absent from Joe Hockey’s first budget speech as treasurer. It’s not hard to guess why – the full budget sets out major cuts to climate research, and strong moves against renewable energy programs, such as scrapping the Australian Renewable Energy Authority.  Together, these moves send the strong signal that we are weakening our capacities for both climate knowledge and responses to climate change. As a result, we are increasingly flying blind.  Does this reflect a change in the way in which we, as a society, perceive the risks of climate change? It’s an important question, because although political appetites for action may wax and wane, the laws of nature cannot be repealed.

Abbott out of step on climate change, says Professor Jeffrey Sachs
Australia’s reversal on climate change action will ultimately not stick because the rest of the world will make clear that it is unacceptable, globally renowned economist Professor Jeffrey Sachs says.  Speaking to Fairfax Media, Professor Sachs said the extreme shocks and pain of climate change were now being felt across the planet and governments acting in an ”anti-scientific perspective or an extraordinarily short-term perspective” will be surprised by the response from other countries.

Sustainable thinking: how do we make our democracy sustainable?
Thinktanks, research and policy institutes can provide an unparalleled level of expertise and analysis on political issues. Whatever their ideology or affiliations, apparent failings of democracy or the threats posed by unsustainable trends worldwide, ranging from the unethical to the apocalyptic, are principle concerns and irresistible areas of research for many.  But how do they think we can get the better, fairer and more sustainable democracy that we deserve, and put environmental sustainability and responsibility at the heart of it?

Shell hits back at ‘carbon bubble’ claims
Shell has hit back at claims that its multi-billion dollar investments in tar sands, fracking and other unconventional oil and gas exploration will create a “carbon bubble” which may backfire catastrophically because of expected global climate change legislation. “We are already taking steps to minimise our emissions and we are preparing the company for when legislation and markets will support a more significant action to mitigate CO2”.

Clean Technology

Idaho Startup Wants to Pave Roads With Glass Solar Panels
An Idaho couple has developed a modular paving system of solar panels that can be installed on roads, parking lots, driveways, sidewalks, bike paths, as well as playgrounds, and generate electricity to power homes and businesses connected via driveways and parking lots.  Scott and Julie Brusaw, founders of Solar Roadways, envision a nationwide system that could produce more clean renewable energy than a country uses as a whole.

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