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Thursday 25 October 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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In today’s top story the EU Parliament votes 571-53 to ban a wide range of single use plastics by 2021. This is a great signal to the rest of the world that we need to reduce plastic use and that it can be done. In other news, a new waste research centre is being set up to figure out how to reduce the 40% of food that is wasted every year in Australia; the state of New York is suing Exxon Mobil; activist shareholders are demanding Whitehaven Coal align it’s business with the goals of the Paris Agreement; and a chance for you to support 4 Pines craft brewery to get solar (I’m a fan).

Top Story

Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament | BBC News
The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans. MEPs backed a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks. The proposal also calls for a reduction in single-use plastic for food and drink containers like plastic cups.

Environment and Biodiversity

Hurricane Walaka wipes out crucial Hawaiian nesting ground for threatened green sea turtles | ABC News
USA – Important nesting grounds for threatened green sea turtles are now fully submerged after a direct hit by a powerful hurricane on one of Hawaii’s largest atolls earlier this month. East Island, the second-largest island of the French Frigate Shoals, approximately 800 kilometres north-west of Honolulu, is also a crucial pupping ground for endangered monk seals.

 

Photo: East Island: Before and after. The remote East Island was important ecologically. Supplied: Chip Fletcher/US Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo: East Island: Before and after. The remote East Island was important ecologically. Supplied: Chip Fletcher/US Fish and Wildlife Service

 

Economy and Business

Asian Development Bank signals end to ‘dirty’ coal finance | Climate Home News
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is making a decisive shift to clean energy, according to its energy chief. Coal plants are becoming unviable investments, Yongping Zhai wrote in Viet Nam News, as renewable energy costs fall and the bank puts a carbon price in excess of $36 a tonne on lending decisions.

Whitehaven Coal: activist shareholders to force vote on climate strategy | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – Activist shareholders in Australia’s largest independent coalminer are expected to vote in record numbers on Thursday to demand Whitehaven Coal aligns its long-term company strategy with the Paris climate agreement. Guardian Australia understands the group Market Forces has secured support from some superannuation funds and large overseas investors in Whitehaven for three resolutions that will be put to the company’s annual general meeting in Sydney.

More solar beer, as NSW 4 Pines launches 100kW crowd-funding round | One Step Off The Grid
AUSTRALIA – The coming Australian summer looks set to deliver another solar powered beer brand, with New South Wales’ 4 Pines Brewing Company calling for investors from its local Northern Beaches community to back the installation of 100kW of PV next month.

The 4 Pines range of beer

The 4 Pines range of beer

Waste and the Circular Economy

New centre in Adelaide to help tackle Australia’s food waste problem | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – South Australia will lead the way in the battle to combat Australia’s $20 billion food waste bill, with a new national research centre set to launch in Adelaide. Researchers at the $132 million Fight Food Waste Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) will work to find ways to reduce food waste in Australia, as well as the associated landfill and social issues. According to the centre, each year Australia wastes 40 per cent of the food it produces and individual households throw away nearly $4,000 of unused food.

Photo: Food waste is estimated to cost Australia $20 billion each year. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)

Photo: Food waste is estimated to cost Australia $20 billion each year. (ABC Radio Darwin: Jesse Thompson)

Politics and Society

The best way to boost the economy is the best way to improve the lives of disadvantaged students | The Conversation
What if we had an opportunity to double the size of the tourism industry, or to quadruple the size of the beef industry, or to boost the economy by more than any of the presently proposed tax switches? What if we could do it while permanently improving the lives of disadvantaged young people? We surely wouldn’t let it slip away. Yet we do every day while we fail to address the gap in school achievement between between rural, regional and remote children and their city counterparts.

Lawsuit alleges ExxonMobil deceived shareholders on climate change rules | The Guardian
USA – New York is suing the oil giant ExxonMobil in a lawsuit that claims the company engaged in a “longstanding fraudulent scheme” to downplay the risks posed to its business by climate change regulations. The legal action, launched by New York state attorney general Barbara Underwood, alleges that ExxonMobil deceived its investors by hiding the true extent of its financial exposure to laws aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Health experts slam government’s ‘contemptuous’ IPCC report response | SMH
Almost two dozen leading Australian health experts have blasted the Morrison government’s “contemptuous dismissal” of the findings of the latest major climate report and called for a rapid phasing out of coal. In a letter published on Thursday in The Lancet, a leading international health journal, the academics and health professionals said the government had ignored the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special 1.5 degree impact report.

Labor opposes plan to indemnify new coal plants and warns it could cost billions | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – The shadow climate change minister, Mark Butler, has issued a clear warning to Australia’s energy sector that Labor does not support the government indemnifying new coal plants against the future risk of a carbon price – noting the cost to taxpayers could run into billions.

Energy

Snowy says cost of “firm” wind and solar significantly below current base-load prices | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The federal government owned utility Snowy Hydro says it will expand the scope of its wind and solar tender after confirming that “firm renewables” can deliver prices “significantly” below current “base-load”, or wholesale, prices. Snowy Hydro went to the market earlier this year seeking contracts for 800MW of wind and solar capacity, and now says it will expand this to 900MW from nine different wind and solar projects.

Built Environment

Here’s how to design cities where people and nature can both flourish | The Conversation
Urban nature has a critical role to play in the future liveability of cities. An emerging body of research reveals that bringing nature back into our cities can deliver a truly impressive array of benefits, ranging from health and well-being to climate change adaptation and mitigation. Aside from benefits for people, cities are often hotspots for threatened species and are justifiable locations for serious investment in nature conservation for its own sake.

An impression of biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) developed by the authors in collaboration with Mauro Baracco, Jonathan Ware and Catherine Horwill of RMIT’s School of Architecture and Design. Author provided

An impression of biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) developed by the authors in collaboration with Mauro Baracco, Jonathan Ware and Catherine Horwill of RMIT’s School of Architecture and Design. Author provided

How smart cities are about to rock our world | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – What’s the connection between smart cities and sustainability? How about cleaner water, zero waste, smart transport, better engagement with communities and building resilience? Is that a good start?

Food Systems

Ban entire pesticide class to protect children’s health, experts say | The Guardian
Evidence that an entire class of pesticides threatens the health of children and pregnant women is now so arresting that the substances should be banned, an expert panel of toxicologists has said. Exposure to organophosphates (OPs) increases the risk of reduced IQs, memory and attention deficits, and autism for prenatal children, according to the paper, published in Plos Medicine.