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Sustainable Development News, Monday 28 April 2014

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

Coalition’s renewable energy review an ‘unprecedented scam’, industry says
The renewable energy industry has labelled a controversial Abbott government review an “unprecedented scam” and a “stitch-up” after learning that it was conducting electricity industry modelling on the assumption there would be no risk or cost to investments in coal-fired power stations in the next few decades.

Direct Action: Government releases policy white paper on climate change plan
The Federal Government has released the formal design of its multi-billion-dollar Direct Action climate change policy, and is writing to key Senate crossbenchers in the hope it will quickly pass Parliament.

What Happens When Oil Spills in the Arctic?
As sea ice melts and the oil industry prepares to exploit the Arctic’s vast resources, the United States faces big gaps in its preparedness for an oil spill in the region, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Research Council (NRC).

Indigenous protesters occupy Peru’s biggest Amazon oil field
Around 500 Achuar indigenous protesters have occupied Peru’s biggest oil field in the Amazon rainforest near Ecuador to demand the clean-up of decades of contamination from spilled crude oil.   The oilfield operator, Argentine Pluspetrol, said output had fallen by 70% since the protesters occupied its facilities on Monday – a production drop of around 11,000 barrels per day.

Environment

Flawed land leases in PNG will be revoked, says PM
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says controversial land leases abused by the timber industry will be cancelled.  PNG’s High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani, relayed Mr O’Neill’s message at the Australian Association for Pacific Studies Conference in Sydney on Thursday.  Mr O’Neill said all Special Agricultural and Business Leases, or SABLs, are under review and that those abused for forestry will be revoked.

China toughens environment law to target polluters
Beijing (AFP) – China on Thursday passed the first amendment to its environment protection law in 25 years, imposing tougher penalties on polluters after the government called for a “war” on pollution.  The changes approved by the standing committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubberstamp parliament, take effect on January 1, 2015 and come amid growing public discontent over pollution.

Summit Pledges to Save the Oceans
The summit on protecting the world’s oceans ended Friday, with a call to tackle the major threats of climate change, overfishing, habitat loss and pollution. The Global Oceans Action Summit for Blue Growth and Food Security was held in The Hague.  Valerie Hickey of the World Bank said the summit was a success.  “I think this was the first time that over 600 people came together to align agendas across the conservation and growth fields to discuss how can we actually commit to action to support broad-based blue growth, food security. This was about making sure that we can invest in the oceans in a way that alleviates poverty, that shares broad prosperity, while turning down the heat.”

China hopes to take rare animals off the menu with tough jail sentences
Chinese diners who enjoy bear bile, tiger bones and pangolin meat now have a new reason to lay down their chopsticks.  China’s top legislative body passed a new “interpretation” of the country’s criminal law on Thursday that will allow authorities to jail people who knowingly eat products made from rare wild animals. Prison sentences for the offence range from under three years to more than a decade, the state newswire Xinhua reported.

Nuclear researcher warns about plastic perils
The perils that birds face from plastics have been long documented. Choking, trapping and starvation are all common.   But now, researchers are showing that trace elements of hazardous materials from plastics are also finding their way into birds.  One of the researchers of the project is Richard Banati of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, and he’s calling for a re-think of the way we use plastics.

Quiz: What’s Your Penguin Style?
The penguins of Antarctica share a flair for black-and-white fashion, but they each have a distinct look of their own. Take this short quiz and discover your personal penguin style. And don’t forget to take action to protect their homes.

Economy and Business

Asda: 95% of our fresh produce is already at risk from climate change
95% of the entire fresh produce range sold by Asda is already at risk from climate change, according to a groundbreaking study by the supermarket giant. The report, which will be published in June, is the first attempt by a food retailer to put hard figures against the impacts global warming will have on the food it buys from across the world.

Kingfisher CEO: don’t underestimate impact of climate change on business (Opinion)
The job of the chief executive is to scan the horizon and think about the long term. Clearly, you must always balance this with attention to the short term but if you don’t pay attention to the future, you will find that all too soon it becomes a present for which you are unprepared.  When I look forward, I clearly see resource scarcity, energy price increases and extreme weather as real and growing threats to the long-term viability of business. We live in a world where these major trends pose a significant challenge to the business as usual-model we currently operate, and perhaps the most dominant trend of all is climate change.

Climate change survival: companies need courage…and new metrics
Right now, we are looking on with a mix of disbelief and ennui as extreme weather engulfs us. In some cases, we are trying to take what appear to be reasonable steps, mostly in order to protect our precarious perch in the world’s economy. The trouble is, the time for reasonable has passed. We have somehow forgotten that if there is no nature, there is no business.

Framing natural capital: economy and ecology are not in competition (Opinion)
Excluding nature from the mainstream economic discourse leaves the misconception intact, and perpetuates the battle that we have been losing for decades. I believe our best chance of breaking the problematic “balancing” frame is through showing that nature is not an impediment to economic success, but an essential prerequisite for it.

Apple’s Campus 2 ‘Mother Ship’ to Run on 100% Renewables
Apple’s Campus 2 in Cupertino is on its way to redefining sustainable office spaces. In a recently released video detailing the sustainability aspects of the building, the company says that the idea is to “bring California back to Cupertino,” and it believes it has a shot at building the “best office building in the world.”

Copenhagen fashion summit: an event for solutions, but were there any?
More than 1,000 designers, producers, manufacturers, auditors, academics and NGOs involved in the fashion world gathered at Copenhagen Opera House yesterday to discuss sustainable fashion.   With the anniversary of Rana Plaza and Fashion Revolution Day as a hook for the event, the attendees certainly talked the good talk on sustainability but for a summit based on solutions, were there any? A summary of some of the days key sustainability lessons.

Student accommodation sector seeing sustainability benefits
The student accommodation sector is in the middle of a boom, with new operators such as Iglu and Campus Living Villages delivering sound returns to investors like Macquarie Bank and the superannuation funds. The developments have also created an opportunity to create buildings that are a lesson in sustainability for occupants and a valuable testing ground for innovative approaches in architecture.

Politics and Society

Solving the world’s toilet shortage (Video)
In this episode of TCTV, water sanitation and hygiene engineer Dani Barrington explains the importance of toilets and community-led approaches to sanitation for one-third of the world’s population who lack access to adequate sanitation.  This video is a co-production between SBS World News and The Conversation.

We’re at the tipping point: Elders sound the alarm
In terms of observations of Australia’s climate, Aboriginal Elders have an indisputable claim to the longest period of study, which is why their recognition that things have been rapidly changing is very relevant to appreciating the impacts of climate change.  In the NITV (SBS) documentary series The Tipping Points, the Elders and leading climate and marine scientists are combined for the final episode “Oceans – the Last Frontier”, and the result is a confronting look at how close we are to a major ecological breaking point.

Food Systems

Halving meat and dairy consumption could slash farming emissions
Greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture would be cut by 25-40% if Europeans cut their meat and dairy consumption by half, according to a UN report.  Scientists from the UN Economic Commission for Europe say that as well as cutting air and water pollution, adopting a “demitarian diet” – cutting meat and dairy consumption in half – would lead to a 40% cut in Europeans’ intake of saturated fats.

Built Environment

Chinese firm 3D prints affordable house prototypes using all-recycled content
China’s WinSun Engineering Design decoration Company has successfully utilised 3D printing to build 10 full-size 200 square metre prototype homes in a single day using 100 per cent recycled materials, according to 3Ders.org.  The raw materials comprised recycled construction waste, industrial waste and tailings, which are combined to create construction concrete. This was then extruded by giant 3D printers 150 metres long by 10m wide by 6.65m high in a layer by layer process.

The Top 10 Most Innovative Sustainable Buildings Of 2014
By next year, as much as 48% of new non-residential building construction will be green, according to estimates. Sustainable architecture is no longer rare, and that’s something that’s happened fairly quickly–from 2005 to 2012, the number of new green building designs jumped up 39%.  So when there’s an award for the best sustainable architecture, it’s no longer enough to have just a few ad hoc features, like rooftop solar panels or a rainwater collection system. A new roundup of the top 10 current examples of sustainable architecture–selected by the American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment–showcase projects that have a “thoroughly integrated” approach to sustainable design.

Eerie Photos Of Abandoned Shopping Malls Show The Changing Face Of Suburbia
When the sprawling Randall Park Mall opened near Cleveland in 1976, it was briefly the largest mall in the world, and developers touted it as a symbol of the good life in suburbia. The small town where it was located added two shopping bags to its municipal seal in homage. This year, after decades of decline, it’s being torn down.  Photographer Seph Lawless documented the abandoned mall, along with another nearby shopping center also scheduled for demolition, in a new book called Black Friday.

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