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Sustainable Development News, Tuesday 15 April 2014

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

More wrap up of news from the IPCC Third Assessment Report released on Sunday

IPCC: emissions cuts are about ethics as well as economics
The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows that global greenhouse gas emissions have grown faster than ever over the last decade. Taking action to achieve the world’s goal of limiting global warming to 2°C will mean making dramatic cuts in emissions. This raises not just technical and economic challenges, but also profound questions of ethics and values – such as the responsibility we bear towards future generations, and our attitude to the risk of very severe climate change damages.

IPCC expert wrap: the need for emissions-negative energy
The world may have to rely on “emissions-negative” energy technologies in the latter half of this century, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s new report on reducing the impacts of climate change.  Swapping fossil fuels for plant material, and then burying the resulting carbon dioxide to avoid it entering the atmosphere, is the kind of tactic that could help put world greenhouse emissions into reverse, said report co-chair Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist at the Potsdam Institute of Climate Impact Research.

IPCC climate change report: averting catastrophe is eminently affordable
Catastrophic climate change can be averted without sacrificing living standards according to a UN report, which concludes that the transformation required to a world of clean energy is eminently affordable .  “It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” said economist Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, who led the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) team.

IPCC report: the scientists have done their bit, now it is up to us (Opinion)
So, there we have it. The seven-year task undertaken by hundreds of the world’s leading scientists, who sifted through thousands of the latest peer-reviewed studies examining the causes, impacts and mitigation options of climate change, is over.  The last of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change’s (IPCC) three “working group” reports was published yesterday in Berlin and the take-home message was crystal clear: “The high-speed mitigation train needs to leave the station very soon and all of global society needs to get on board,” said the chair, Rajendra Pachauri.

Coal will be a main energy source for ‘decades and decades’, says Greg Hunt
Coal will be a predominant energy source for “decades and decades” to come, but with “drastically” reduced greenhouse emissions owing to technological advancement, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, has predicted as he responds to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  The third report from the IPCC working group said the cheapest and least risky route to dealing with global warming would be to abandon all dirty fossil fuels in coming decades. It said gas – including that from the global fracking boom – could be important during the transition, but only if it replaced coal burning, and included nuclear as a low-carbon option.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt resists IPCC pressure for deep cuts to carbon emissions
The Federal Government is giving little sign that it will sign up to the deep pollution cuts recommended in the latest report by the United Nations panel on climate change.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for global emissions cuts of up to 70 per cent by the middle of the decade, if nations want to meet their goal to limit temperature growth to two degrees Celsius.

Environment

Entire marine food chain at risk from rising CO2 levels in water
Escalating carbon dioxide emissions will cause fish to lose their fear of predators, potentially damaging the entire marine food chain, joint Australian and US research has found.  A study by the Australian Institute of Marine Science, James Cook University and the Georgia Institute of Technology found the behavior of fish would be “seriously affected” by greater exposure to CO2.
Link to Nature article: Behavioural impairment in reef fishes caused by ocean acidification at CO2 seeps

More of Victoria’s forest to be protected to save Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction
The possum’s habitat is under threat from logging and at significant risk from bushfires.  The State Government has announced a raft of measures it says will help save the Leadbeater’s Possum from extinction.  They include increasing exclusion zones around known habitat and improved bushfire planning.  The measures will mean a five per cent reduction in available logging areas, equivalent to about 10,000 thousand cubic metres of saw logs.

Forest fires arrive early as Siberia sees record high temperatures
The past week saw record warm weather in western Siberian cities including Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Kemerovo, Barnaul and Gorno-Altaisk.  Natural Resources Minister Sergei Donskoi warned a conference chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: ‘The forest fire situation is tense in Russia this year. Due to a shortage of precipitation the forest fire season has begun almost one and a half months ahead of the norm.’

Spotted – two snow leopard cubs in the Altai Mountains captured on camera
The snow leopards are found in Altai in small numbers but also in the Himalayas, the Pamirs, and the Tien Shan. A major threat to them is the surging global demand for cashmere, which is derived from the under hair of domestic goats and the livestock population of these animals has soared in recent years.  Here in Russia, the snow leopards are known for their exceptional and highly valued fur.  ‘Their bones and other body parts are in demand for use in traditional Asian medicine and wild snow leopards are sometimes captured for private animal collections in Central Asia,’ states the Snow Leopard Trust. ‘Many poachers are local residents who live in snow leopard habitat areas. These regions face high levels of poverty, and poaching offers a source of extra income that can be used to meet the most basic necessities of life, including food and shelter’.

Economy and Business

Practically Green Becomes WeSpire, Debuts Sustainability ROI Calculator
Practically Green, the engagement platform for sustainability and responsibility programs, this week announced it is rebranding as WeSpire. The company also debuted its proprietary ROI calculator, which will allow customers to more accurately measure the impact and savings of each individual project deployed.  WeSpire helps companies engage people in sustainability and responsibility initiatives with persuasive technology that builds awareness, drives behavior change and now more accurately measures business results. Practically Green’s evolution to WeSpire reflects the growing scope of sustainability and as a result, the growing scope of its technology.

HP’s ‘Matter to a Million’ Partnership with Kiva Loans Over $2.5M in First Two Months
As part of the five-year, global partnership, HP has given all of its employees worldwide a $25 credit to lend to borrowers on Kiva. The company said in a blog post this week that to date, more than 86,000 employees had given more than $2.5 million in loans to help farmers, teachers, doctors, and business owners worldwide grow their businesses and help their communities.

Food Systems

How to source wild ingredients ethically and sustainably
According to the World Health Organisation, 65-85% of the world’s population relies on herbal medicines to meet its health needs. This results in many thousands of tons of wild plants being traded annually and the pressure on potentially vulnerable plant species can endanger local ecosystems and plant stocks.

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