Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
If you like what you see, you are welcome to sign up (on the right) for free sustainable development news delivered direct to your inbox each weekday morning.

Energy and Climate Change

The Guardian view on the UN climate change treaty: now for some action (Opinion)
The danger of gala events like the official signing of the climate change treaty at the UN in New York on Friday, crowned with a guest appearance from Leonardo DiCaprio and with 60 heads of state in attendance, is the impression they create that the job is done. It was certainly a spectacular demonstration of global intent to get more than 170 signatures on the deal agreed in Paris in December at the first time of asking; but what matters is making it legally binding. For that, it must be not just signed but ratified by at least 55 countries, and it must cover 55% of emissions.


Why the Paris climate change goals may already be slipping beyond reach
World leaders have failed to come to grips with the epic challenge of phasing out fossil fuels and running the entire global economy almost entirely on clean energy by the middle of this century, experts said this week. While more than 170 countries converged at the United Nations on Friday to demonstrate their support for the landmark deal to fight climate change reached at Paris last December, economists and scientists warned the accord’s goal of keeping temperatures below 1.5-2C may already be slipping beyond reach.
See also – Paris climate deal: leaders signed up to a marathon without first getting fit

UK envoy: carbon pricing ‘too sluggish’ to meet climate goals
Carbon pricing is “too sluggish a weapon” against climate change, top UK envoy Sir David King said on Monday. Speaking at a sustainability event in London, Sir David argued innovation to bring down the cost of clean technology would bring swifter results. “I don’t think it [carbon pricing] is a fast enough driver for change,” he told Climate Home on the sidelines. “It needs to go hand in hand with other regulatory systems.”

A global coalition mapping and motivating decarbonization
The Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition (CPLC) is a policy-focused alliance of national and subnational governments, intergovernmental agencies, businesses and institutional investors, nonprofits and stakeholder networks. It was launched on the first day of the Paris climate negotiations, and its mission is simple: to collaborate across borders, across sectors, sharing information, know-how and capacity, to build the most economically efficient tools for decarbonization into every nation’s climate plan as soon as possible.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Fred Krupp: five ways to deliver on the Paris climate talks
For our moment in history, Paris is a critical breakthrough – but it is also just the beginning. We must build on this foundation, and strive for the even more ambitious limit of 1.5C in the coming years, to avoid catastrophic impacts to those least capable of adapting and potentially losing entire island nations to rising seas. It is a global obligation to ourselves and to future generations. In order to meet it, our work to deliver on the promise of Paris must follow five basic principles.

No rush to sign on the dotted line of climate accord
New Zealand has signed an historic climate change deal – and the Government says the pressure is now on business and households to get us to our target reduction in green house gas emissions. It has previously been estimated the Paris climate change accord will cost Kiwi households an $100 extra a year. The Paris agreement is the first to require all countries to tackle climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to limit global temperature rises to two degrees Celsius this century. Climate Change Minister Paula Bennett admits it won’t be easy getting there.

Renewable energy target ‘unrealistic’
It is unlikely New Zealand will reach its goal of making electricity 90 percent renewable by 2025, industry insiders say. The push for 90 percent was devised by the previous Labour government and adopted as a target by the National-led administration. The current level is 80 percent. But the plan looks like it may fall victim to economic reality and could undermine New Zealand’s ability to meet its pledges under the Paris Climate Change Accord.

Condamine River set on fire after Greens MP lights bubbling methane gas, blames fracking
AUSTRALIA – Part of a Queensland river bubbling with methane gas has burst into flames after being ignited by a Greens MP, who blames nearby coal seam gas (CSG) operations for the “tragedy in the Murray-Darling Basin”.

Photo: Bubbling methane gas was set alight by Jeremy Buckingham. (Supplied: Jeremy Buckingham)

Photo: Bubbling methane gas was set alight by Jeremy Buckingham. (Supplied: Jeremy Buckingham)

Solar Impulse 2, flying on renewable energy, has safely landed in California
Solar Impulse 2 (SI2), an experimental plane flying around the world without consuming a drop of fuel, has landed in California, one leg closer to completing its trailblazing trip. “The Pacific is done, my friend. I love it, but it’s done,” clearly relieved Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, who piloted from Hawaii to California, said just before landing. The arrival at Moffett Airfield marked the completion of the ninth of 13 legs in a journey that began last year in the United Arab Emirates.
See also: Solar-powered plane completes historic flight over Pacific (Video 1:06)

Environment and Biodiversity

David Attenborough says the Great Barrier Reef is in ‘grave danger’ – it’s time to step up
Over three weeks, Australians have been taken on an incredible journey through the biology, beauty and wonder of the Great Barrier Reef, guided by Sir David Attenborough. As individuals who have had the privilege of working on the Reef for much of our lives, the wonderful storytelling, exquisite photography and stunning production of the Great Barrier Reef with David Attenborough has been inspiring. It’s a great reminder of how lucky we are to have this wonder of nature right on our doorstep… However, as the curtain closes on this wonderful series, Sir David concludes that the Reef that he visited nearly 60 years ago is very different from today.

Coral promiscuity could help it survive bleaching, research finds
Certain coral species that survive bleaching events are able change the types of algae living inside them to better protect themselves in the future, Australian researchers have found. A team of researchers from Southern Cross University, University of Melbourne, Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the University of Hawaii came together to understand the relationship between coral and the types of algae that can live inside coral tissues.

Huge coral reef discovered at Amazon river mouth
A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.

Cod almighty: the secret of Norway’s monster fish bonanza
Forty years ago, the wife of the editor at the local paper for the remote Lofoten islands in Norway’s far north had an idea to boost its tiny circulation. The newspaper started to award a bag of coffee and a certificate to any angler who landed a cod over 30kg (66lb). Now the paper’s records, painstakingly compiled over the decades, bear witness to a remarkable outcome of climate change and far-sighted fisheries management.

Economy and Business

Poor countries must find $4tn by 2030 to avert catastrophe, says climate study
Developing countries must raise more than $4tn (£2,456bn), or roughly the entire annual budget of the US, to implement their climate change pledges by 2030, according to new research.

China lull behind quiet quarter for global clean energy investment
Global clean energy investment in the first quarter of 2016 was $53.1bn, down 22% on Q4 2015’s $68.1bn and 12% below the $60.5bn recorded in the equivalent quarter a year ago. The figures, based on transactions recorded by Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s data team, show that the main factor behind the relatively weak Q1 result was a change in the pace of activity in China.

BNEF’s Chase: SunEdison Files for Bankruptcy After Acquisition Binge
SunEdison’s bankruptcy says more about the company’s strategic decisions than about the solar industry as a whole. Comparable companies SunPower and First Solar have managed a develop-and-sell business profitably over the past three years.

5 ways that NGOs stunt sustainability
Before I blast the NGO community, let me say I consider them as a good friend. Friends tell each other when their collar is twisted, when kale is stuck in their front teeth. This is the spirit of this column. Last week I wrote about my favorite sustainability experience: the Amazon soy moratorium. Now, I write about my least favorite and most frustrating endeavor: the quest for sustainable palm oil. It’s a case study of how NOT to create transformational change.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Food processing waste recycled as premium bottled water AquaBotanical
A watery by-product of fruit and vegetable processing, which used to end up in the sewerage system, is now being served at restaurants as premium drinking water. Among the early converts is high-profile Sydney chef Grant King, who has swapped from more established international brands to the novel local drop at his restaurant Gastro Park.

Politics and Society

Apps to build your understanding of the environment
Earth Day, which took place last Friday, has become an increasingly well-known event as politicians, billionaires, and others take part in building awareness about the environment. You, too, can build awareness about the environment with apps that remind you how to add a touch of green to your life.

Sam Judd: Conflict on climate change? Plant more trees
The aftermath of the historic signing of the Paris Agreement on climate change is a good time to take stock of where we are at on this important issue… But less clear is, what we are going to do about it? And how can we ensure that the action we take is proportionate to our status as a developed country and something we can be proud of? Climate Tracker – an independent scientific analysis carried out by four research organisations, described New Zealand’s policy as ‘inadequate’  – which doesn’t seem to fit in with keeping up the clean, green image that is so valuable to our exporters and tourism industry.

Food Systems

The case for a sustainable food system in 12 charts
The world needs to close a 70 percent “food gap” between the crop calories available in 2006 and the expected calorie demand in 2050. This gap stems primarily from population growth and changing diets. Global population is projected to grow to nearly 10 billion by 2050, with two-thirds of people living in urban areas.

This Pea-Based Milk Is Healthier Than Almond Milk, And Actually Tastes Almost Like Milk
After building Method, the sustainable soap brand, into a $100 million-plus business, cofounder Adam Lowry probably could have retired. Instead, he tackled a new problem: the unsustainability of milk. Dairy has a massive carbon footprint, and a single gallon of milk takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce. Plant-based alternatives, from almond milk to coconut milk, are gaining in popularity, but they have issues of their own. So his new company Ripple is using another unusual ingredient—peas—instead.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.