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Sustainable Development News, Monday 14 April 2014

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

Overnight, the IPCC Third Assessment Report was released focussing on mitigation of climate change.

IPCC Press Release
A new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shows that global emissions of greenhouse gases have risen to unprecedented levels despite a growing number of policies to reduce climate change. Emissions grew more quickly between 2000 and 2010 than in each of the three previous decades.  Scenarios show that to have a likely chance of limiting the increase in global mean temperature to two degrees Celsius, means lowering global greenhouse gas emissions by 40 to 70 percent compared with 2010 by mid-century, and to near-zero by the end of this century.

Averting climate change catastrophe is affordable, says IPCC report
Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards, according to a landmark UN report published on Sunday. It concludes the transformation required to a world of clean energy and the ditching of dirty fossil fuels is eminently affordable.  The authoritative report, produced by 1250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, dismisses fears that slashing carbon emissions would wreck the world economy. It is the final part of a definitive trilogy that has already shown that climate change is “unequivocally” caused by humans and that, unchecked, it poses a grave threat to people and could lead to lead to wars and mass migration.

UN calls for drastic action to stop climate change
The world must take radical steps to combat climate change, and begin right away – but if it does, the cost of a greener, healthier future will be surprisingly small.  However if the world wishes to avoid ecological catastrophe, it will probably need new technologies that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and bury it underground.  This is the message of a new major climate change report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, released in Berlin on Sunday.  The third and final part of the IPCC’s fifth assessment concentrates on what we can do to stop runaway global warming – and how much it will cost.

Australia Must Reduce Its Coal Exports To Reduce Greenhouse Emissions: Climate Change Scientists
The latest report from the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reinforces its consistent message that climate change is real and has dangerous consequences for humanity. And an urgent shift is needed from burning coal, gas and oil to more clean energy, according to the report Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change.

U.N. Climate Panel Warns Speedier Action Is Needed to Avert Disaster
BERLIN — The countries of the world have dragged their feet so long on global warming that the situation is now critical, experts appointed by the United Nations reported Sunday, and only an intensive worldwide push over the next 15 years can stave off potentially disastrous climatic changes later in the century.  It remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found, according to a report unveiled here. But even in parts of the world like Europe that have tried hardest, governments are still a long way from taking the steps that are sufficient to do the job, the experts found.

IPCC Working Group III: Avoiding climate change could cost up to 6 per cent of world GDP
Efforts to reduce carbon emissions have not been able to stop greenhouse gases reaching unprecedented levels, according to the latest report from the world’s leading climate science body.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its Working Group III report in Berlin.  The report warns that energy efficiency improvements have not kept up with economic growth.  The IPCC is calling for significant changes to avoid temperatures rising 2 degrees Celsius, saying the cost to avoid dangerous climate change would be between 2 and 6 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product.

IPCC report: world must urgently switch to clean sources of energy
Clean energy will have to at least treble in output and dominate world energy supplies by 2050 in order to avoid catastrophic climate change, a UN report is set to conclude on Sunday.  The report produced by hundreds of experts and backed by almost 200 world governments, will detail the dramatic transformation required of the entire globe’s power system, including ending centuries of coal, oil and gas supremacy.  Currently fossil fuels provide more than 80% of all energy but the urgent need to cut planet-warming carbon emissions means this must fall to as little as a third of present levels in coming decades, according to a leaked draft of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report seen by the Guardian.

Green tech revolution needed to avoid climate change dangers, says Nicholas Stern
Lord Nicholas Stern, author of a landmark 2006 study on climate change, says his conclusion that global output could dive 5-20 per cent without action to curb greenhouse gases was an underestimate.  To reduce the risk of severe economic dislocations from rapid global warming, including the potential for forced migration of millions of people, governments will need to embrace a technological revolution, Lord Stern said in an interview.

Can business break impasse on climate action?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change urged immediate action on adapting to human-caused climate change in the second part of its fifth assessment report, released in March. But it may be that governments and the media are poorly equipped to deliver that dire message to the public.  That was the consensus among experts speaking about the evolution of the public debate over climate change and clean energy at Bloomberg’s Future of Energy Summit in New York City.  Andy Hoffman, director of the Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, said that climate change and renewable energy are caught in a cultural schism in which both, regardless of the science, are seen as products of radical environmentalists and big government.

Falling Solar Panel Prices Resulted In Global Boom In Solar In 2013, Less Total Investment
In 2013, solar power capacity grew 26% while investment in solar power dropped 23%. There’s only one way that divergence makes sense — there was a continued drop in installed solar panel prices in 2013. Old news to CleanTechnica readers, but news that we continue to share, as it’s some of the most important news of the decade.  A new report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance and the United Nations Environment Programme goes into more details on renewable energy prices and renewable energy investment in 2013. Climate Central‘s Bobby Magill has written a great on the subject, so here it is as a repost.

Environment

Aussies to dig at the heart of Borneo as coal projects threaten nature
Australian companies are pushing ahead with plans to construct open-cut coalmines in a conservation area of Borneo described by the World Wildlife Fund as “one of the planet’s richest treasure troves”.  Brisbane-based Cokal announced it has secured funding to pursue its Bumi Barito Mineral joint venture, from which it plans to mine 200 million tonnes of coking coal over a 10-year period.  The BBM project, covering 15,000 hectares of forest, is one of five coalmines Cokal hopes to develop in the remote north of Indonesia’s Central Kalimantan province, where it has permits covering 62,000 hectares of land, part of which falls within the boundaries of the Heart of Borneo – a 220,000 square kilometre area said to be the largest remaining expanse of trans-boundary tropical forest in Southeast Asia.

Toxic estuaries in NSW making rock oysters infertile
High concentrations of metals in Port Jackson, Port Kembla and Botany Bay are having a major impact on marine life, researchers have found.  Toxic levels of copper, zinc and lead from stormwater or due to past industrial dumping are making Sydney rock oysters infertile, University of NSW scientists say.

Economy and Business

Businesses need better understanding of built environment says study
The world is changing, and changing in ways that will have profound implications for our cities. We have already passed the tipping point: in 2010, for the first time in history, more people lived in cities than in rural communities and the number is set to continue to grow with the world’s urban population projected to reach 6.4 billion over the next three decades.  Business leaders need to invest in sustainability and infrastructure in the built environment if they want to remain competitive on a global scale.

BlaBlaCar is to car hire what AirBnB is to the hotel industry
…The fruit of Mazzella’s frustration that day was the car-sharing company BlaBlaCar, and it has grown in the intervening 10 years to the point where the president of SNCF, the French national railways, identified it as a competitor last year.  The Paris-based company has six million members over 12 countries these days, linking drivers with passengers who can buy unused seats in the car.  According to the company a million people use the website every month, keying in details of where they are going and when, and getting a list of drivers doing the same route, with their journey history and a price – which can be a fraction of what public transport costs.

Politics and Society

Real cost of natural disasters burns up NSW state budget
The NSW government has been hit with ballooning disaster response costs as major fires and floods continue to blow budget forecasts.  The Disaster Relief Fund was allocated $95 million in this year’s budget, but government spending will top $348 million, after roads were wiped out by storms, and aircraft and heavy machinery were hired to fight fires which devastated the state over summer.

Stop Accumulating Stuff And Start Accumulating Experiences
Could you spend a month and have bought nothing physical by the end of it?  Experientialism will be good for all the stakeholders in our shared future. It will work, to begin with, for all of us. It will make us happier, healthier, richer, in every sense: less clutter, less regret, less anxiety, more meaning, more status, better conversations, more connections, a stronger sense of belonging.

Food Systems

CSIRO scientists create world’s first fish-free prawn food Novaq
A team of CSIRO scientists has cracked the holy grail of aquaculture by developing the world’s first fish-free prawn food.  There is intense global interest in Novaq because it solves one of the farmed prawn industry’s biggest problems – its reliance on wild fisheries as a core ingredient in prawn food.  But aquaculture has reached “peak fish”, where demand for wild harvested fish meal now outstrips supply.  Without a solution, soaring world demand cannot be met.

Fat free and 100% natural: seven food labelling tricks exposed
If you’re confused by food labels, you’re not alone. But don’t hold your breath for an at-a-glance food labelling system that tells you how much salt, fat and sugar each product contains. Australia’s proposed “health star rating” labelling scheme was put on hold in February, following pressure from the food industry. And it’s unclear whether the scheme will go ahead.  Marketers use a variety of tricks to make foods seem healthier and more appealing than their competitors, particularly when it comes to products aimed at children. One of the most powerful advertising tools a food manufacturer has is the packaging, as it’s what we look at immediately before deciding which food to purchase.

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