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Sustainable Development News, Wednesday 16 April 2014

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

Queensland government hits Underground Coal Gasification player Linc Energy with environmental damage charges
The Queensland government has hit one of Australia’s leading unconventional gas extraction companies, Linc Energy Ltd, with landmark legal action following a nine month investigation by the state’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.  Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection Andrew Powell has finally revealed the state’s environment watchdog had filed charges against Singapore-listed Linc Energy over alleged serious environmental harm stemming from Linc’s pilot Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) plant near Chinchilla in the Queensland’s foodbowl of the Darling Downs.

Climate change report: reactions to the final instalment of the IPCC analysis
The final instalment in the trilogy of climate change reports from the IPCC is released today. And there’s some good news: the world can afford to transition to clean energy and climate change can be averted without sacrificing our living standards.  We’ve collected reactions from thought leaders and experts here.

How China’s coal cap makes it a leader in tackling climate change
Is China doing more to tackle climate change than the US and EU? A new analysis into the impact of its recently announced coal caps suggest it may – at least by some measures.  The latest report from the UN IPCC’s third working group into climate change showed global emissions rising fast over the past decade – largely driven by emissions from coal plants in emerging economies, especially China.  But emissions in the west have also fallen relatively little and China’s plans – driven in large part by the spread of air pollution across the country – could lead to a far more significant change in the global emissions trajectory.

China’s 14GW solar target ‘challenged’ by policy uncertainty
China’s 14GW installed solar goal is looking more and more ambitious, after a new report from Deutsche Bank cast doubt on the nation’s ability to achieve the 2014 target, due to policy uncertainty and difficulties with project financing and logistics.  The report – published on Monday by Deutsche analysts Eric Cheng, Michael Tong and Vishal Shah – said that recent site visits and meetings with Chinese solar companies had confirmed the bank’s earlier view “that achieving China’s 2014 14GW solar installation target could be challenging” without increased policy certainty.

Environment

Male monkey cares for dying partner
A wild male marmoset has been seen and filmed embracing and caring for his dying partner.  The female accidentally fell from a tree in the forests of Brazil and the male comforted her as she lay dying. Such behaviour is “astounding”, say scientists, having only been previously recorded in primates among chimpanzees and humans.  The marmosets were the dominant pair in their group, having been committed partners for three-and-a-half years.   Within months of the female’s death, the male left the group, never to return.  Details of the extraordinary interaction are published in the journal Primates, along with a video recording the behaviour.

NSW government divided over allowing anglers to fish in marine parks
The O’Farrell government remains divided over to whether to make permanent a so-called amnesty allowing anglers to fish in marine parks, delaying a decision possibly until after the elections next March.  It is understood Treasurer Mike Baird last Friday told opponents of on-shore fishing on beaches and headlands in six marine parks a verdict was “12 to 18 months” away after the failure of two cabinet meetings on the issue to settle on a decision.

Record number of British beaches receive highest water quality rating
As well as helping butterflies and bees, last year’s hot and dry British summer led to a record number of beaches reaching the highest standard of water quality in nearly three decades.  The Good Beach Guide, compiled by the charity Marine Conservation Society (MCS), said that in 2013 almost three-quarters of 734 beaches around the UK coast reached the highest rating of excellent water quality.  The results mark a dramatic turnaround from 2012, which was the second wettest summer on record, with heavy rain causing overflowing sewage and agricultural pollution to wash into the sea.

Economy and Business

New Study Shows Kenya’s Shift to Green Economy Should Generate USD 45 Billion by 2030, Build Climate Resilience and Boost Food Security
Nairobi, 15 April 2014 – Kenya’s transition to a green economy could produce major economic benefits – equivalent to an estimated USD 45 billion by 2030 – as well as greater food security, a cleaner environment and higher productivity of natural resources, according to a new study launched Tuesday by the Government of Kenya and the UN Environment Programme.   The Green Economy Assessment Report: Kenya finds that the transition to an inclusive, low emission, resource efficient green economy will result in stronger economic growth and increased wealth creation opportunities by 2021.

How consumers can track products at the touch of a smartphone button
Consumers want to buy healthy, quality food. They want to know where it comes from, who the producer is and how it arrived on their table: in short, they want to understand the food supply chain in simple terms. People are also willing to pay higher prices for a product which shares all that information.  These expectations can now be met by traceability systems based on radio frequency identification (RFID), which is used to track and record data about the product through the ‘internet of things’ and present this information to the consumer through their smartphone.

Qld Government to keep close eye on tailings dams at Palmer nickel refinery
The Queensland Government says it will continue to monitor the water being released from tailings dams for toxic waste at Clive Palmer’s Yabulu nickel refinery near Townsville in the state’s north.

Dutch aWEARness Creating the First Circular Supply Chain for Textiles
One of the most resource-intensive industries on the planet, the $1.2T global textile and apparel industry is built on complex linear supplier relationships. Lack of visibility over what’s happening further down the chain has often resulted in massive toxic pollution, unethical labour practices and spiralling waste, with the rise of ‘fast fashion’ sending materials hurtling towards end of life at an ever-increasing rate. Some 13m tonnes of textile waste are generated annually in the US, estimates the US EPA, with just 2 percent currently recycled. The majority ends up in landfill, wreaking untold damage on fragile ecosystems.  So how is a small firm in the Netherlands turning this ‘take, make, waste’ model on its head and embracing waste textiles as valuable raw materials?

Politics and Society

Coalition’s Direct Action contracts too short for success, says adviser
A hand-picked advisory group has warned the Abbott government its Direct Action climate change plan would need to offer 15-year contracts to effectively reduce greenhouse emissions – three times longer than the Coalition has proposed.  A “green paper” issued by the environment minister, Greg Hunt, proposed the emission reduction fund – which has so far been funded for just three years – would offer five-year contracts to companies and organisations competing in a competitive tender for the fund’s grants.  But Danny Price – chosen by Hunt as an “eminent economist” to co-chair the expert reference group advising him on the scheme – told Guardian Australia five years was “way too short”.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu calls for passive resistance to carbon emitters
Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called for a global consumer-led boycott of companies that contribute to climate change.  Writing in The Guardian, the Archbishop said that while nations like the US and Canada continue to contemplate fossil-fuel industry projects such as the Keystone XL Pipeline despite the latest IPCC reports on the urgency of reducing carbon emissions, it is the responsibility of individuals to use the tactics that worked against the apartheid system to curb the power of the big carbon emitters.  “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change. We can, for instance, boycott events, sports teams and media programming sponsored by fossil-fuel energy companies,” Archbishop Tutu wrote.

Councils demand federal and state liquidity injection to float flood mitigation measure
Australian councils are mounting a renewed push to extract more money and support from federal and state governments to help pick up the heavy burden of bills incurred from the increasing number of natural disasters including cyclones and floods.  The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is warning that more senior jurisdictions must immediately become “more engaged” on the critical issues of water infrastructure, supply and security, with the peak body’s president, Felicity-ann Lewis, using a keynote address to the Australian Water Congress and Expo 2014 in Sydney to push the point.

More Than 900 Environmental Advocates Slain In A Decade As Concern For The Planet Grows
BANGKOK (AP) — As head of his village, Prajob Naowa-opas battled to save his community in central Thailand from the illegal dumping of toxic waste by filing petitions and leading villagers to block trucks carrying the stuff — until a gunman in broad daylight fired four shots into him.  A year later, his three alleged killers, including a senior government official, are on trial for murder. The dumping has been halted and villagers are erecting a statue to their slain hero.

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