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Solar panel costs predicted to fall 10% a year
Solar power costs are tumbling so fast the technology is likely to fast outstrip mainstream energy forecasts. That is the conclusion of Oxford University researchers, based on a new forecasting model published in Research Policy. Since the 1980s, panels to generate electricity from sunshine have got 10% cheaper each year. That is likely to continue, the study said, putting solar on course to meet 20% of global energy needs by 2027.

Energy and Climate Change

IRENA Considers Onshore Wind As Cheap As Coal
According to an analyst from the International Renewable Energy Agency, onshore wind has dropped in cost to the level of coal-fired production. Michael Taylor, an energy analyst and renewable energy expert at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), has recently analyzed the cost of onshore wind power, and found that it has dropped to the level of coal-fired generation — and that’s even without including the cost of health and environmental effects caused by coal.

Company’s coal mine plan angers Greenpeace NZ
A plan to develop an opencast coal mine on the North Island’s west coast has riled Greenpeace boss Russel Norman. Mokau South Resources want to develop the mine on the Panirau Plateau in Ohura, approximately 20km east of the Mokau township, and has applied for a 30-year resource consent to the Waikato Regional Council.

Indian Government Approves Support For Another 5 GW Solar Power Capacity
The Cabinet of Ministers of the Indian Government have approved funding facilitates for setting up solar power projects with 5 GW capacity.  The Indian Government will provide Rs 5,050 crore (US$750 million) through the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) as viability gap funding to set up 5 GW of solar power projects. These projects will form part of the Batch IV of Phase II of the National Solar Mission that aims to have an operational solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2022.

Global solar coalition to raise $1trn
A global solar power coalition will raise US$1 trillion to boost renewable energy capacity around the world, according to the Indian Ministry of New & Renewable Energy (MNRE). The International Solar Alliance (ISA) has a membership of over 120 countries and was launched by the Indian government.

Sea level rise from ocean warming underestimated, scientists say
The amount of sea level rise that comes from the oceans warming and expanding has been underestimated, and could be about twice as much as previously calculated, German researchers have said. The findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed US journal, suggest that increasingly severe storm surges could be anticipated as a result.

Antarctic climate riddle could be solved by Kiwis
NEW ZEALAND – Want to hear something encouraging about climate change? How about the reassuring fact that of total carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, about half gets re-absorbed by plants and seawater. And it also seems positive that we New Zealanders have, “The Prince of all natural Carbon Sinks”, right in our backyard. This is the mysterious natural climate engine, located deep down in the Southern Ocean, which is called the “Antarctic Convergence”.

Tasmania grid struggles with drought, bushfires, lost connection
Tasmania’s electricity grid is facing its biggest challenge in years, with its hydro storage about to fall to its lowest levels ever, bushfires forcing the closure of some power facilities, and a faulty cable cutting the connection between the island and the country’s main electricity grid.

Melbourne air quality drops after smoke spreads across city from Tasmania bushfires
Melbourne’s air quality has dropped to unhealthy levels in some areas after smoke from the Tasmanian bushfires has travelled across Bass Strait. Heavy smoke from the blazes in Tasmania’s North West spread across Gippsland yesterday and moved into Melbourne early this morning, causing the air quality to drop.

Environment and Biodiversity

Tasmanian Bushfires: Seed Bank could be saviour as bushfires ravage Tasmania’s ancient wilderness
As fears grow about the impact of widespread fires in Tasmania’s north and north-west, researchers say it could be possible to restore ancient plant species feared destroyed. Seed Bank coordinator James Wood said it would be possible to replant forests that had been lost. Just last year, during a rare flowering, the Seed Bank collected thousands of seeds from native conifers.

Sperm whales stranded in UK may be part of beached German and Dutch pods
Five sperm whales stranded on the east coast of England were probably from the same pods as the 12 that washed up on coastlines in Germany and the Netherlands, according to the lead pathologist examining the Lincolnshire whales. Rob Deaville, project manager at the UK Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme, said it was “reasonable to assume” that the pods entered the North Sea together in the hunt for food. “The question that’s left still hanging is why they came in the North Sea in the first place and whether the French, the German events are all connected in some way,” he said on Tuesday.

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Devastated Killer Whales
It’s been 26 years since the Exxon Valdez supertanker slammed into a reef, releasing nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil and destroying hundreds of thousands of animals, from sea otters to bald eagles, in and around Alaska’s Prince William Sound. You’d think nearly three decades would be long enough for the wildlife to recover, but some populations took a harder hit than others. Take killer whales, also known as orcas.

Not just bees: the buzz on our other vital insect helpers
We hear a lot about bees and how important they are for growing our crops. Well, they are – and we should also be concerned about recent declines in bee populations and their health. But bees aren’t the only pollinators. Our recent global analysis has revealed that the “non-bee” insects are playing much bigger roles than had been appreciated.

The Bug-Eyed, Colorful World of Insect Vision
National Geographic magazine recently explored the hidden history of the eye, which some have called one of nature’s most exquisite creations. This companion video even examined how animal eyes differ from human eyes. It turns out that a wide range of eyes have arisen across the animal kingdom. Among the more striking are the eyes of the millions of insects that share this planet with us.

Flies Physiphora samaragdina flies are small and have wings that are spotted or banded with black, brown, or yellow. They are commonly found in moist places or on flowers.

Flies Physiphora samaragdina flies are small and have wings that are spotted or banded with black, brown, or yellow. They are commonly found in moist places or on flowers.

Economy and Business

Mobilizing Suppliers for Climate Resilience: CDP 2015-2016 Supply Chain Report
For the last few months, a small team of BSR and CDP staff—partnering through the We Mean Business coalition—has been reviewing information submitted by more than 4,000 suppliers from around the world and across a range of industries. This information, with a wealth of detail about climate risk perceptions, management, and emissions performance, all comes together with today’s launch of the CDP’s 2015-2016 supply chain report, “From Agreement to Action: Mobilizing Suppliers Toward a Climate-Resilient World.”

World’s largest palm oil trader criticised for lack of progress on deforestation
The world’s largest palm oil processor and trader used the Davos gathering of business leaders as an opportunity to talk up progress on its efforts to tackle deforestation in the palm oil sector.  Singapore-headquartered Wilmar says it has made “significant progress” on a commitment it made two years ago to eliminate deforestation, exploitation and peatland development from its supply chain. This includes publishing a list of crude palm oil mill sources that supply its refineries, enabling greater transparency along the company’s supply chain. However, campaigners and industry experts say the company is yet to prove that its suppliers are not responsible for clearing forests or abusing human rights.

Videos: Trilogy and Colmar Brunton share sustainability success from Project NZ: Telling Good Stories
Watch two of NZ’s most loved brands speak alongside two international thought leaders and share strategies for a sustainable business and industry-leading story telling. It pays to stand out.  These four leading speakers from Project NZ: Telling Good Stories looked at a new era of communicating and sustainability: what the future of sustainable brands looks like and where we’re predicted to be headed.

10 green crowdfunded projects you’ll want to know about
Each campaign on these sites showcases a prototype or concept that needs financial backing for further research, development or initial production. Here are 10 products and projects to check out, and maybe even fund. If nothing else, perusing the list could be great fodder for getting your own creative juices flowing.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Nordic Clothing Companies Lead Way In ‘Looping Textiles’
The complexities of material composition and the fashion industry have made initial forays into clothing challenging for circular economy models. However, over the last 12 to 18 months there has been a noticeable growth in the development of new initiatives in the clothing space. Two recent examples in the Nordic context are Swedish based ShareWear and Finnish initiative – Relooping Fashion.

Politics and Society

Sri Lanka destroys huge illegal ivory haul
The Sri Lankan government on Tuesday publicly destroyed its biggest ever illegal ivory haul in what customs officials said was an attempt to show poachers that the island will not tolerate the violent trade. More than 350 tusks were displayed at the Galle Face promenade in the island’s capital Colombo before being fed into a 100-tonne crusher to be sent to an industrial furnace.

Australia Day: a survivor’s film guide
Australia Day. Invasion Day. Survival Day. Amid the nationalistic fervour that takes place at this time of the year, it is worth remembering that January 26 – the date, in 1788, that the British Governor Arthur Phillip arrived with the First Fleet at Sydney Cove – is not just a time of national celebration but a day that marks the beginning of centuries of geographical appropriation, savagery and cultural oppression of the continent’s original owners.

Trudeau launches Canada into a radically new approach to Indigenous affairs
Since his election last October, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has enjoyed extraordinary media coverage. Much has been superficial: his looks, his family, his father who led Canada for more than a decade. But Trudeau sent deliberate signals throughout the campaign, consciously seeking partners for a new approach to government. Nowhere was this more evident than in Indigenous affairs. And Trudeau embodies the approach he wants his Liberal government to have.

Ngati Whatua builds affordable new homes
The first 30 homes for the descendants of Auckland’s largest hapu will be ready towards the end of next month and most are affordable at $550,000 or less. Ngarimu Blair, deputy chairman of Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust and a director of the tribe’s commercial arm Ngati Whatua Whai Rawa, said families would begin shifting into the Orakei ridge-top homes progressively next month and during March.

School postcode lottery: how to improve the odds for poorer children
For many children born in Britain today, the postcode they grow up in will influence the kind of life they can look forward to. The former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, has condemned this “postcode inequality” and launched a commission led by the Social Market Foundation to tackle it. In schools, the postcode lottery is clear, explicit and legal, born out of approved, official schools policy for decades. It is no metaphor and is based directly on postcodes.

Food Systems

Q&A BioBrew Managing Director Andre Prassinos
NEW ZEALAND – As a farming nation, maintaining the health of our livestock without chemical-based antibiotics is important for our ‘clean and green’ brand and health. Biobrew’s probiotics are organic and the firm is expanding its products and ingenuity to the USA.


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