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Thursday 29 March 2018

Sustainable Development News

Sustainable development news from around the world with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
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Following yesterday’s story on forced migration due to land degradation, we find more in the news today.  Our top story is a Conversation article looks at the causes and politics of land degradation, while the UN officially recognises land issues due to climate change as one of the causes of instability in Somalia.  Meanwhile, the majority of Australians support a phase out of coal by 2030, even 50% of Coalition voters.  So why aren’t the pollies taking action?

Top Story

On dangerous ground: land degradation is turning soils into deserts | The Conversation
If any of us still has the slightest doubt that we are facing an ecological crisis on an unprecedented scale, then a new report on land degradation, released this week by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), provides yet another piece of evidence. Land degradation can take many forms, but always entails a serious disruption of a healthy balance between five key ecosystem functions. These are: food production; fibre provision; microclimate regulation; water retention; and carbon storage.

Climate Change and Energy

Europe’s coming gigafactory boom, mapped | Climate Home News
The race to electrify Europe is on. By 2020 at least seven new gigawatt-size battery factories are scheduled to start operating on the continent, with another three developments rumoured.

Simply Energy chooses Tesla for 8MW Adelaide virtual power plant | RenewEconomy
AUSTRALIA – The city of Adelaide is rapidly becoming the global centre of virtual power plants, with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency announcing plans to support a rollout of an 8MW project by the retailer Simply Energy. The proposal to link 1200 Adelaide households with 6MW of storage and another 2MW of demand response capacity in local businesses represents the fourth VPP to be announced or rolled out in that city in the last two years.

Vanishing Glaciers by Project Pressure – in pictures | The Guardian
Project Pressure is a charity that has been working with renowned artists in a pioneering project to document the world’s vanishing glaciers. This week it brought its touring photographic exhibition to the Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change, Hong Kong, where visitors can experience the different types of glaciers found on each continent and take a video journey to see how glaciers are retreating.

At about 5,000m on Mount Kenya, Simon Norfolk carried a self-made fire torch to create a line of fine showing where the glacier used to extend to  Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Project Pressure

At about 5,000m on Mount Kenya, Simon Norfolk carried a self-made fire torch to create a line of fine showing where the glacier used to extend to Photograph: Simon Norfolk/Project Pressure

Environment and Biodiversity

Baby cheetah and puppy make unlikely best friends at Canberra’s National Zoo | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – An extremely rare case for cheetahs, four-month-old Solo was born exactly as the name suggests — without any siblings. As mothers have difficulty producing milk for single cubs, zookeepers Aline Ijsselmuiden and Kyle Macdonald began hand-raising Solo at a few weeks old with 24-hour care. They have barely spent a moment away from Solo since his birth, even sleeping next to him in a room beside the enclosure. “I would wake up three times a night to feed him,” Ms Ijsselmuiden said, jokingly adding it was great preparation for childbirth. But the trainers soon realised that humans could not provide the affection he needed to properly develop his social skills. And what screams affection more than a puppy?

Photo: Zama the border collie-cross-Malinois is the more dominant one — but that will unlikely last. (ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)

Photo: Zama the border collie-cross-Malinois is the more dominant one — but that will unlikely last. (ABC News: Clare Sibthorpe)

Water

$500k council investment stokes water wars | newsroom
NEW ZEALAND – Since Colleen Johnson moved into her house in Leithfield, North Canterbury, four years ago, five water cylinder elements have been wrecked. One rupture was so bad the whole cylinder had to be replaced. Johnson, who runs a Facebook group called Hurunui Water Supply Issues, blames the “unpalatable, unpleasant” water. “There’s a large section of community buying [bottled] water,” she tells Newsroom. “As a Kiwi, it’s so fundamentally wrong buying water, but we were having so many upset stomachs.”… it’s galling for Johnson that her council plans to spend nearly $500,000 buying shares in a planned $200 million irrigation scheme, Hurunui Water Project. The Council plans to borrow to buy the shares.

Economy and Business

Tasmanian forest agreement delivers $1.3bn losses in ‘giant fraud’ on taxpayers | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – The first Tasmanian regional forest agreement, signed between the state and the commonwealth in 1997, was supposed to start an era in which forestry was both ecologically and economically sustainable. In fact the last 20 years have been a financial disaster for forest management in Tasmania. According to my calculations, Forestry Tasmania’s total operating cash losses over the 20 years from 1997-2017 are $454m.

Synthetic clothing damaging to ocean says NZ Merino chief | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – Wool could be part of the answer to the scourge of microplastics, the New Zealand Merino Company says. A grouping of manufacturers spearheaded by the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) will soon launch an international campaign highlighting the virtues of natural fibres. A new report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) shows 35 per cent of minute plastic particles in the ocean are caused by washing synthetic clothing such as polar fleeces.

NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge with a sample of merino fabric, bottom left, which has completely degraded after nine months' burial, compared to synthetic, right, which has failed to break down at all. Photo: Gerard Hutching/Stuff

NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge with a sample of merino fabric, bottom left, which has completely degraded after nine months’ burial, compared to synthetic, right, which has failed to break down at all. Photo: Gerard Hutching/Stuff

Lendlease fund sets 2025 net zero carbon target | The Fifth Estate
AUSTRALIA – Lendlease’s Australian Prime Property Fund Commercial (APPFC) will become net zero carbon by 2025, one of the tightest targets set in the property sector. The goal is being supported by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which has tipped $100 million in equity into the $4.5 billion commercial property fund. CEFC property lead Chris Wade told The Fifth Estate the investment would help Lendlease meet the “new industry benchmark” for carbon targets while specifically helping the Melbourne Quarter development pursue “a precinct-wide energy solution”, including the integration of energy efficiency, renewables, storage and virtual network technologies across multiple buildings.

Drinks bottles and can deposit return scheme proposed | BBC News
UK – People in England will soon have to pay a deposit when they buy drinks bottles and cans in a bid to boost recycling and cut waste. The deposit will increase prices – but consumers will get the money back if they return the container. The scheme is expected to cover single-use glass and plastic bottles, and steel and aluminium cans. Full details are subject to consultation and yet to be decided, including how big the deposit will be.

Waste and the Circular Economy

Plastic ban passed by Bassendean Town Council with letter to Coles set to follow | ABC News
AUSTRALIA – The Town of Bassendean has banned the “scourge” of single-use plastics from events organised or sponsored by the council. That includes plastic straws, cups, plates and cutlery. The town’s mayor will also write to supermarket Coles asking it to stop using plastic wrapping, particularly on fruit and vegetables.

Artwork calls for reducing plastic waste | Stuff.co.nz
NEW ZEALAND – The 7.7 square metre Our Ocean piece is made from thousands of plastic caps by Dannemora artist Anne Yang and more than 100 contributors of all ages. The caps were collected from used bottles, pens, perfumes, make-up products and other things, and are of different colours, sizes and designs. Plastic is the unbearable lightness to our ocean,” says Yang, who won a people’s choice award in Howick’s Estuary Artworks Competition in 2013 with an environment-focused oil painting. “The functionality of caps is rather simple. Why would us human beings waste so much resources and energy on them? It’s time for us to reflect and make a change.”

Guest experience supervisor at Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium Ebony Lee Dwipayana and Dannemora artist Anne Yang in front of the artwork Our Ocean.

Guest experience supervisor at Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium Ebony Lee Dwipayana and Dannemora artist Anne Yang in front of the artwork Our Ocean.

Politics and Society

UN Security Council warns of climate threat to Somalia peacekeeping | Climate Home News
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has formally recognised climate change as a destabilising factor in Somalia. In a resolution adopted on Tuesday as part of a renewed mandate for assistance and peacekeeping in the country, the council noted “the adverse effects of climate change, ecological changes and natural disasters among other factors on the stability of Somalia, including through drought, desertification, land degradation, and food insecurity”.

Majority of Australians support phasing out coal power by 2030, survey finds | The Guardian
AUSTRALIA – A majority of Australians would support phasing out coal power by 2030, including half the people in a sample identifying as Coalition voters, according to a survey by a progressive thinktank. The research funded by the Australia Institute says 60% of a sample of 1,417 Australians surveyed by online market research firm Research Now supported Australia joining the Powering Past Coal Alliance to phase out coal power by 2030.

Jesus wasn’t white: he was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew. Here’s why that matters | The Conversation
Jesus was not white. You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise if you’ve ever entered a Western church or visited an art gallery. But while there is no physical description of him in the Bible, there is also no doubt that the historical Jesus, the man who was executed by the Roman State in the first century CE, was a brown-skinned, Middle Eastern Jew.  This is not controversial from a scholarly point of view, but somehow it is a forgotten detail for many of the millions of Christians who will gather to celebrate Easter this week.

Food Systems

Sustainable shopping: save the world, one chocolate at a time | The Conversation
Cocoa is probably the most sustainable of all internationally traded commodities, so there are several “feelgood” reasons for eating the chocolate made from it this Easter – at least when the cocoa is grown by smallholder producers and traded by processors that are committed to equitable sharing of profits.  Here are some ways to tell if you are onto a good thing.

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