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Carbon News 17/11/14: G20 climate action Gareth Renowden Nov 17

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Minister knows of water woes, but public information tap is turned off

Finance Minister Bill English has been told something about fresh water — but the public isn’t allowed to know what it is. Last month, Ministry for the Environment officials were forced to admit they were wrong to say that the quality of our waterways is “stable or improving”.

Deal or no deal — can China and the US deliver?

It’s been called an historic agreement — a game changer in the battle to combat climate change. But can China and the US fulfil the promises in their announcement of plans to cut carbon emissions?

Does this climate deal let China do nothing for 16 years?

“As I read the agreement it requires the Chinese to do nothing at all for 16 years while these carbon emissions regulations are creating havoc in my state and around the country.” — US Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, November 12, 2014.

Crowd-funders get behind CarbonScape

Kiwi cleantech company CarbonScape has hit its crowd-funding equity target.

We can cut carbon and pollution at no cost, says China

China can achieve economic development, energy security and reduce pollution at the same time, according to a major new study.

Green groups want say on Ruataniwha changes

Environmental groups want to have their say on a late tweak to the conditions imposed on the proposed $230 million Ruataniwha dam in Hawke’s Bay in a High Court challenge.

G20 climate challenge calls for a rethink of economics

Focusing on growth, the Brisbane G20 leaders’ summit has not grappled with three key issues – how much more growth the planet can survive, how poorer nations can raise their living standards to parity with the developed world, and how can a fairer distribution of the benefits of growth be realised?

Expand climate portfolio, says Mahuta

The Cabinet portfolios of agriculture and climate change should be given to the same person, says Labour Party leadership hopeful Nanaia Mahuta.

Lakes expert to spotlight water quality

An American water quality expert who has studied and modelled the effects of nutrients in American lakes will be sharing his knowledge at a public forum in Rotorua this week.

Launchpad jury likes wilding pines project

Taking an environmental problem and turning it into a commercial success has seen a Queenstown social enterprise team taken under the wing of a business incubator.

New Australian report debunks coal industry myths

The coal industry has many friends in high places, and none more so than Tony Abbott, Prime Minister of Australia — one of the world’s major producers of a fuel that earns the country billions from exports.

UK ignores pledge to end fossil fuel support

Despite promises to phase out subsidies to the coal, oil and gas industries, a new report says the UK and other G20 governments are still providing them with massive financial help.

On the web: coal industry costs Australia $8 billion in medical bills

  • New Commission floats first ‘kill list’ of green EU laws
  • India feels heat as pressure mounts to deliver climate target
  • Global meat demand ploughs up Brazil’s ‘underground forest’
  • Giant batteries connected to the grid: the future of energy storage?
  • Hyundai, Kia to triple range of green cars by 2020

Diet’s effects on emissions give food for thought

American researchers confirm that a shift to vegetarian, Mediterranean or fish-based diets would cut greenhouse gases, conserve forests and savannah, and have a big impact on obesity-linked health problems.

Designer dumps leather and heads for greener pastures

An eco-conscious Kiwi designer is saying goodbye to leather.

Australia’s green building review adds more uncertainty

Australia’s Commercial Building Disclosure programme is the latest federal environmental policy to be placed under review.

Spot NZUs close week at $4.35

NZUs traded $4.35 on Friday with reasonable volumes traded, OMFinancial reports.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News 3/11/14: NZ fails as UN wails Gareth Renowden Nov 04

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Our emissions plan hopeless, says renowned academic

New Zealand has no chance of meeting its 2020 emissions reduction target under current policies, says a leading scientist involved in the latest IPCC report. Professor Ralph Sims, of Massey University, is recognised around the world for his expertise on climate change and renewable energy, but is never consulted by our own Government.

Leaders must act, says UN after dire climate report

If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems, says a United Nations report. Echoing the dire warning, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that if the world maintains its “business as usual” attitude about climate change, the opportunity to keep temperature rise below the internationally target of 2degC “will slip away within the next decade”.

What the politicians said …

All three of New Zealand’s major political parties say that the IPCC’s latest call on climate change is important.

Climate refugees? we’ll think of something …

New Zealand still has no plan to help climate change refugees — despite acknowledging that many Pacific Islands people might need to be relocated.

State miner rethinks environment liabilities

The State coal-miner says its future environmental liabilities are not as great as it thought.

At last, there’s a glimpse of an ETS in Australia

With the passage of the Emissions Reduction Fund through the Senate last week, Australia’s federal government has taken a step toward achieving the country’s minimum target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 5 per cent below 2000 levels by 2020.

Tararua turbines set power-output record

Two New Zealand wind turbines have set a world record for output.

Southern winery wins green award … again

A Marlborough winery that uses miniature sheep to tidy around its vines has won another sustainability award.

Business network names sustainability finalists

Finalists for this year’s Sustainable Business Network Awards have been named.

Denmark wants to be coal-free by 2025

Denmark is looking into how the country can stop using coal as an energy supply by 2025, says Climate and Energy Minister Rasmus Helveg Pesen.

Actually, a high oil price might be a good thing for the world

Oil prices have fallen dramatically since August — and, rather counter-intuitively, this could be a bad thing.

On the web: we can continue to burn coal, says Australia

  • Germany may cut coal-fired energy to protect climate
  • Banks invest record €66bn in coal sector
  • Airport solar farm will be world’s largest
  • Scotland to open remanufacturing hub to cash in on waste

Booming cities need sustainable urban planning

Growing urban areas will need better planned and better managed environments or risk exacerbating negative trends, the United Nations has warned.

China-US links could spark emissions breakthrough

Tentative steps have been taken by China and the United States towards co-operating on climate change — mainly focusing on relatively modest technological schemes connected with more efficient and less polluting power generation.

Insurance industry sleeps through climate alarm calls

Insurance is all about assessing risk, so you might expect companies in the sector to be intimately involved with one of the most potent risks facing the world — the possibility of catastrophic climate change.

Salt-poisoning a growing threat to crops

Salt is poisoning around 2000 hectares of irrigated farm land every day — and has been doing so for the past 20 years, according to new research.

Why uncontrolled climate change might limit growth

By Jack Pezzey. “But who do you think’s right, Prof? The optimists or the pessimists?” At the end of my sustainability economics course in 2007, students were challenging me to end 20 years of professional fence-sitting.

Business leaders praise EU emissions deal

A group of influential business leaders is welcoming Europe’s new climate and energy deal.

NZUs hold

NZUs traded back to $4.35 on Friday on about 35k, OMFinancial reports.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News 28/10/14: oil drilling, honey and crowd-funding green coke Gareth Renowden Oct 29

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Hunt for oil anchors govt’s environment plan

The National Party is leading off its environmental package for its new term in power with plans to encourage more oil exploration — despite the burning of fossil fuels being the single biggest cause of climate change.

Honey hits the jackpot for steep-land believer

In 2010, Taranaki farmer Neil Walker was enthusiastic about the potential for a combination of carbon farming and beekeeping to rejuvenate steep-land farming. Four years on, he is still buying cheap land and planting it in tree crops, despite carbon prices being less than a third of what they were back then.

Green-coke pioneer puts faith in public-funding

Clean-coal company CarbonScape is the first clean-tech company in New Zealand to use crowd-funding to raise capital. The Blenheim-based start-up launched a bid last week on the Snowball Effect platform to raise at least $400,000 dollars.

Good tyres tread lightly on the earth

New Zealand could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6000 tonnes a year by installing fuel-efficient tyres on the nation’s fleet of light vehicles. And at the same time, businesses and private-vehicle owners could shave up to 7 per cent off their fuel bills.

New EU emissions goal pits green business against industry

A European Union goal to cut greenhouse gases by 40 per cent by 2030 sets the pace for a global deal to tackle climate change, pitting heavy industry against green business.

Emissions register has a new look

The Environmental Protection Authority is making the national emissions register more user-friendly.

Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens green trade deal

The Trans-Pacific Partnership threatens a green trade deal that could ultimately do more to reduce carbon emissions than international climate agreements such as the failed Kyoto Protocol.

On the web: Sweden the greenest country… so, where is NZ?

  • Carmakers prepare to shift to hydrogen fuel cells
  • New York Green Bank in debut clean energy transactions
  • Off-grid German village runs on wind and sun
  • UK to axe solar farm subsidies in favour of biomass crops

Supplies of rare earth materials are still far from secure

Materials essential for technology products such as electric vehicles, wind turbines or hard disks, known as rare earth elements, aren’t becoming any less rare, or any less crucial.

Universities act to hit fossil fuel firms where it hurts

Glasgow recently became the first European university to join the rapidly expanding fossil-free divestment movement. Following hot on the heels of the Australian National University, Glasgow promised to move £18m of investment over the next 10 years.

Oil boom prompts US to push for crude exports

Oil and coal producers in the United States are planning to use mile-long tanker trains to transport vast quantities of fossil fuels to the coast through areas that environmental groups believe should be protected.

NZUs consolidate and look to move higher

This market feels like it’s about to tip to the bid side and move higher, OMFinancial reports.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News 20/10/14: Chile’s carbon tax, soil SOS and more pressure on dirty investments Gareth Renowden Oct 20

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Chile’s new tax could open carbon doors for NZ

Chile’s new carbon tax potentially offers New Zealand an opportunity to offset some of its own agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, says economist Dr Suzi Kerr. The $US5-a-tonne carbon tax slipped into Chilean law last month as part of a package of tax reforms.

Soils SOS as cities gobble up our best growing land

New Zealand is allowing its elite soils to be eaten up by cities — despite signing up to a new global campaign to protect valuable agricultural land. New Zealand launched its membership of the 17-country Pacific Soil Partnership on Wednesday – the same day that the Government announced it would push ahead with plans to ease planning rules to allow our cities to spread.

Rod Oram: Why i’m getting out of fossil fuels

Business commentator Rod Oram is putting his money where his mouth is when it comes to sustainable investment. Like the Rockefellers in the United States, Oram has ditched his fossil fuel investments.

Kiwi savers want investments to do clean work

A survey of New Zealanders has revealed that Kiwis care deeply about how their KiwiSaver funds are being invested and that they want more sustainable KiwiSaver options.

Fracking boom could mean up to 12% more carbon emissions

The consistent message from those who would seek to exploit shale gas is that it has three distinct advantages over existing forms of fossil fuel energy: it is cheap, it has a lower influence on global warming, and it reduces the reliance in foreign imports.

Angry city draws a line in the (fracking) sand

A college town in southern Minnesota is taking action against the frac-sand industry that’s booming amid America’s drilling revolution.

Greenpeace v Shell via Lego: the building blocks of a successful campaign

October 9, 2014 was a big day in eco-activism: Lego announced that it would not renew a product-placement deal with Shell, following concerted pressure from Greenpeace as part of a campaign to ban Arctic oil exploration by attacking firms associated with such activities.

A new agricultural economy is knocking on the door

Europe should be pushing for the rapid expansion of its network of biorefineries, to produce European food, fuel and feed, as well as a range of other high-value products that replace fossil fuels, writes Robert Wright, Secretary-General of the European Renewable Ethanol Association:

Fish-catching technique nets innovation award

A technique allowing wild fish to be landed live — and released if necessary — has won the supreme title in the New Zealand Innovators’ Awards.

Problem seaweed could provide biofuel solution

It has often been used as a farmland fertiliser, and in some communities it is eaten as a vegetable, but now researchers believe that seaweed could power our cars and heat our homes.

Solar chief: there’s no cost to solar energy, only savings

SolarCity Corp, the United States’ largest residential solar service provider, has a history of pushing the envelope.

Outlook palls for fossil fuel investment

Warnings within the world of high finance are coming thick and fast that the increasingly urgent need to combat climate change means investors could lose heavily by sinking funds into coal, oil and gas.

On the web: global shipping emissions set to soar unchecked

  • Pacific Islanders blockade Australian coal port to protest rising sea levels
  • Sweden calls on EU to agree 50% carbon cuts for 2030
  • Impacts of climate change to now be included in UK’s military planning
  • South Africa’s Eskom powers up wind farm
  • China to phase out financial support for solar power sector by 2020

Don’t get too excited, no one has cracked nuclear fusion yet

Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin’s excitement in the media announcement last week that it could make small-scale nuclear fusion power a reality in the next decade has understandably generated

Market remains quiet

The carbon market slipped a little late last week to $4.32 on light volume, OMFinancial reports.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News 13/10/14: foresters in firing line Gareth Renowden Oct 14

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Anxious foresters await review of foreign credits ban

A controversial decision to make foresters the only emitters banned from using cheap foreign carbon credits to offset their greenhouse gas emissions is under review. The provision was slipped through without warning as part of the Government’s Budget in May, and came into effect immediately.

Business poser: are you creating value, or destroying it?

New Zealand is leading the world on integrated reporting but our business leaders are still not taking it seriously enough, latest data shows.

Beehive stays silent on emissions target

The Government remains mum on New Zealand’s 2030 emissions reduction target. New Zealand did not make any mention of its 2030 target at last month’s Climate Summit in New York, at which United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked world leaders to give an indication of the commitments they would make at international climate change negotiations in Paris in December.

New Zealand is drying out … and here’s why

Over 2012 and 2013, parts of New Zealand experienced their worst drought in nearly 70 years.

Australia’s big emitters might yet be billed

Australian companies could yet face a financial penalty for excessive greenhouse gas emissions.

‘Business as usual’ no way to run our rivers

If, as delegates to the 17th International Rivers Symposium agreed, that river restoration is “the hottest topic on the planet” then the insistence by governments world-wide to ignore it is the issue.

Landcorp bio-generation scheme runs out of gas

Landcorp’s pulling of the plug on its BioGenCool manure-powered electricity generation ends the first, large-scale experiment in using milking shed cow dung to drive the milking shed itself.

Voila! a simple new way to put a price on global carbon

A team of French academics has proposed an international carbon trading system, whereby countries with the highest average CO2 emissions pay the most.

Fish heading south big worry for tropic zone

Fish stocks could migrate up to 26 kilometres a decade as the world’s ocean warm.

Wanted: $44 trillion to switch to clean energy

In a world wrestling with climate change and the need to phase out fossil fuels, nothing is more critical than making sure there are reliable and cost-effective clean energy technologies ready to fill the void.

On the web: why is antarctic sea ice at record levels despite global warming?

  • Australian Labor Party leader rules out carbon tax return
  • European businesses split over urgency of EU carbon market fix
  • Canadian watchdog castigates government climate strategy
  • Walmart owners backing campaigns to limit rooftop solar power
  • 25 Devastating Effects Of Climate Change
  • Climate consensus: scientists and sceptics suspend hostilities

Sick seas could cost us billions, UN warns

The global economy could be losing as much as $1 trillion annually by the end of the century if countries do not take urgent steps to stop ocean acidification, says a new report.

World of clean energy ‘feasible’ by mid-century

A global low-carbon energy economy is not only feasible, it could double electricity supply by 2050 while actually reducing air and water pollution, according to new research.

Shift to low-carbon economy could free up $1.8 trillion

Decarbonising the electricity system worldwide would save $1.8 trillion over the coming two decades by avoiding the high operating costs of using fossil fuels, a new study finds.

Europe throws nuclear power a state-aid lifeline

The European Commission has now agreed that Britain can subsidise the building of the world’s most expensive nuclear power station – despite previously believing that the deal breaks the European Union’s rules on state aid.

China’s mythical coal habit is no excuse for climate inaction

By Marek Kubic: I’ve heard it many a time, and you probably have, too. It’s supposedly the trump card to any argument on addressing climate change globally: “Yeah, but what’s the point? Isn’t China building a new coal plant every week?”

Wanganui firm has place among bio pioneers

Calls for New Zealand firms to get into bio-manufacturing omit to mention the fact that we have already been there.

VUW researchers work on better solar systems

Victoria University of Wellington researchers are part of a worldwide effort to design cheaper and more efficient solar energy materials.

Week ends quietly at $4.40

It was a quiet end to the week, with the market for spot NZUs on CommTrade closing unchanged at $4.40, OMFinancial reports.

Smart grids in the spotlight

Using Smart Grid technology to empower electricity consumers was the subject of a talk at Auckland University yesterday.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News 29/9/14: Key challenged over climate impacts on Pacific islands Gareth Renowden Sep 29

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Memo John Key: look Pacific Island leaders in the eye

The Government is being challenged to invite the leaders of the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu and Kiribati to come and tell Parliament what they think of New Zealand’s climate change policies. Support to help Small Island Developing States move to renewable energy is one of five measures New Zealand outlined to last week’s United Nations Climate Change Summit in New York. New Zealand said that it will support the Small Island Developing States Lighthouses Initiative in addition to the $100 million it is already investing in clean energy in the Pacific.

Renewables make mark on emissions figures

Increasing generation from renewables is continuing to drive a massive drop in greenhouse gas emissions from electricity in New Zealand. For the second quarter in a row, emissions from electricity in the three months to August were down on the same period last year, latest government figures show.

New York talked the talk, but we’ll have to wait and see who heard

At the end of his summit meeting on the climate crisis, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put out a list of accomplishments festooned with 46 bullet points, some of them marking concrete new pledges, others diaphanous phrases.

MIA … but it doesn’t mean China’s not interested

There were a few notable absentees among the more than 120 world leaders gathered in New York for last week’s United Nations Climate Summit — and perhaps most notable of all was the head of the world’s highest-emitting nation, China’s President Xi Jinping.

Do something, big business warns political leaders

Many of the biggest hitters in the global financial community, together managing an eye-watering $24 trillion of investment funds, have issued a powerful warning to political leaders about the risks of failing to establish clear policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Cities in the spotlight at climate week summit

Even as nations gathered in New York to discuss global-level action on climate change, there was strong recognition that cities, not countries, have so far played the pivotal role in the world’s fight against climate change — and will continue to do so.

Unhappy power consumers eye solar generation

Nearly two-thirds of New Zealanders would like to say goodbye to their power companies and generate their own electricity.

Have a say in energy development

New Zealanders can have a say on the type of energy development they want, thanks to a Victoria University summer project.

Kiwisavers might get to have say in green investment

Research showing how many New Zealanders want their retirement funds invested in sustainable businesses will be unveiled next month.

ON THE WEB … Obama’s drive for carbon pricing fails to win at home

  • Chile becomes the first South American country to tax carbon
  • UK to introduce fracking drilling law despite 99% opposition
  • US Homeland Security moves to tackle climate change risks
  • Hawaii’s solar industry in precarious situation
  • The top 10 greenest cities in America
  • Avatar director James Cameron talks climate change

New market pact keeps Australians on the ball

Australian businesses wanting to keep up to date with the international carbon market during their country’s retreat from carbon pricing have formed a new regional agreement.

How to save the planet … bike, walk or take a bus

Here’s a way to save $100 trillion and stop 1700 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from getting into the atmosphere every year by 2050: cycle, walk or take public transport.

Use your phone to report water pollution

Water pollution may soon be reported by the public over a phone app and investigated by an aerial robot.

Clear skies for aviation industry, says Boeing report

The business outlook for civil aviation is bright thanks mainly to rising Asian demand for aircraft. But airlines are expected to have a harder time, with tougher competition in Europe leading to a consolidation of the sector, according to the latest industry forecast.

Win some, lose some … that’s climate change

With climate change, you win some, you lose some. New research shows that suitable new cropland could become available in the high latitudes as the world warms, but tropical regions may become less productive.

Australia seems to be overlooking bioenergy

When we think of renewable energy, it’s easy to picture spinning wind turbines or rooftop solar panels. But what about bioenergy?

Would a climate change treaty be enough?

Do we need a climate treaty, or could a simple political deal based on national pledges work just as well?

Prices likely to drift a little

Spot NZUs remain relatively quiet. OMFinancial reports…

Worth seeing — Thin Ice

New Zealand scientist Peter Barrett’s award-winning film Thin Ice will have a public screening in Hamilton next week. Barrett, a geologist, produced the documentary himself, with a view to finding out whether his fellow scientists really were involved in some sort of climate change hoax as some were alleging.

Study will reveal our use of water

The nature of domestic water demand is being measured.

Off to the tip … 33,000 polystyrene cups

Waikato University every year sends 33,000 polystyrene cups to the landfill.

Special offer for Hot Topic readers: Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Carbon News headlines 22/9/14: If the PM doesn’t worry about climate change, why should we? Gareth Renowden Sep 22

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Welcome to a new regular feature on Hot Topic: the week’s Carbon News headlines, brought to you every Monday. Carbon News is an NZ-published web newsletter covering climate and carbon news from around the world, published and edited by experienced journalist Adelia Hallett. The full articles are behind the Carbon News paywall. Click on any headline to be taken to that story on the site.

Carbon News has kindly agreed to offer Hot Topic readers personal (ie single user) subscriptions to their news service — and full access to the CN database of over 7,500 stories published since 2008 — at a substantial discount to normal pricing. Three month subs are $110 (code HT3), six month subs $200 (code HT6), and full year subs $360 (code HT12) – a saving of $140 on standard pricing. If you want to take advantage of these prices, register at Carbon News and enter the relevant code when signing up. This offer will expire at the end of the year.

Scientists plead for cuts to ballooning fossil fuel emissions

Scientists are calling for rapid cuts in the use of fossil fuels in the wake of data out today showing we have almost used up our fossil-fuel credit. Greenhouse gas emissions this year will hit a new high of 40 billion tonnes in what the Global Carbon Project is calling a carbon budget blow-out.

Political parties fail to get the sustainability message through

New Zealanders’ support for a shift to a sustainable economy is growing, according to new research from Colmar Brunton. The fact they didn’t vote that way in Saturday’s general election is probably more to do with campaign messages failing to get enough airtime with all the other ‘dirty politics’ noise than it is to do with interest in environmental issues, says the research company’s chief executive Jaqueline Ireland.

If the PM doesn’t worry about climate change, why should we?

New Zealanders are taking their cue on climate change from the Prime Minister, says social trends researcher Jill Caldwell. “They think that John Key is successful and smart, and that if there was really anything to worry about he’d be worried,” she told Carbon News.

Big business signs up with sustainability driver

Some of New Zealand’s largest companies and organisations have signed up to a new international movement on sustainable business.

Why Kiwibank took its business to the kids

When Kiwibank wanted to know how to move beyond the first stage of being a sustainable business, it asked a bunch of 10-year-olds.

We’re spending millions, say green-wise farmers

Manawatu-Whanganui region farmers have spent an average $110,000 each over the past five years on measures to protect the environment, according to a Federated Farmers survey.

Growth and greening now go together, says Stern study

Governments and businesses can now improve economic growth and reduce their carbon emissions together, says a major new report by a commission of global leaders.

… but critic says report fails to back up core message

A new report called Better Growth, Better Climate draws the seductive conclusion that “we can create lasting economic growth while also tackling the immense risks of climate change”.

Let’s do for climate change what we did for apartheid, says Tutu

WEB: Largest-ever climate change march rolls through NYC
* China cautious on fresh commitments ahead of climate change summit
* Will the new EU Commission assure Europe’s leadership on sustainable development?
* It’s time to teach climate change in school
* After An Inconvenient Truth: the evolution of the climate change film

Move over, Queensland, here comes the Great Sydney Reef

Welcome to tropical Sydney, where colourful surgeonfishes and parrotfishes a=
re plentiful, corals have replaced kelp forests, and underwater life seems b=

Population explosion lowers chance of managing climate change

By Tim Radford: New projections say the population of the planet will not stabilise at 9 billion sometime this century. In fact, there is an 80 percent likelihood that, by 2100, it will reach at least 9.6 billion — and maybe rise as high as 12.3 billion.

China goes up a gear but still has a lot of work to do

In the lead-up to the UN leaders’ summit on climate change, China is shifting up a gear in its drive towards national emissions trading.

How renewables can lead to prosperity and jobs

A new handbook shows how forward-looking communities around the world are already moving away from reliance on fossil fuels and generating their own power with 100 per cent renewables — while also becoming more prosperous and creating jobs.

LED street lights could be 50% cheaper

Installing LED lights in streets could halve energy consumption from street lighting, the government’s energy efficiency agency says.

Drought now could be drought forever in California

Things could soon get worse for drought-hit California. New research predicts that, by the close of the century, global warming could have reduced the flow of water from the Sierra Nevada mountains by at least a quarter.

We can make a good life for most in the doughnut

Is it possible for humans to fulfil their needs without also destroying the environment? It’s a question we need to find an answer to soon, as the world’s poorer regions demand the same perks that come with development.

Twister terror coming earlier in tornado alley

The terrifying whirlwinds that punctuate the mid-Western summer in the United States so frequently as to earn the nickname Tornado Alley for the southern plains region states such as Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and northern Texas, are forming up to two weeks earlier than they did 60 years ago.

And the winner is…

The winner of a copy of MiStory, Philip Temple‘s cli-fi story set in a futuristic New Zealand, is the out-going Labour MP and climate change spokesperson Moana Mackey.

Solid Energy needs extension of guarantee

Commercially troubled state coal miner Solid Energy requires an extension of a government guarantee to meet the $103 million future cost of returning mined land to its pre-mined condition in order to maintain positive equity in its balance sheet.

Pumped-up couple win energy award

The switch to a gravity-feed water system has resulted in huge cost-savings for Otago farmers David and Sarah Smith, winners of an energy excellence award in the 2014 Otago Ballance Farm Environment Awards.

Focus on certainty

National’s grip on the government benches means certainty for the Emissions Trading Scheme, OMFinancial reports.

Want to recycle? just ask the garbage guru

Sydney has launched an app it hopes will drive recycling.

All material provided courtesy of Carbon News and Futura Media. Given the broad scope of the post, please treat this as an open thread.

Friday melts, weird weather and whales (it’s been a long time…) Gareth Renowden Aug 22

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It’s been a long time since my last post: apologies for that. You may blame a bad cold, an urgent need for root canal work, the peak of the truffle season (and truffle tours for culinary heroes1 ), the start of pruning and political distractions for the drop off in activity here. Normal service should resume in the near future, but meanwhile here are a few of the things that have caught my eye over the last week or two. You may therefore consider this an open thread – and given what follows, somewhat more open than usual…

The political distraction, of course, has been the response to Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. I haven’t yet read the book — it’s queued up on the iPad — but as everyone now knows, it concerns the sordid activities of right-wing attack blogger Cameron Slater, and in particular his close ties with senior government politicians. Slater has a long record of climate denial — often lifting material from µWatts or the Daily Mail to support his ignorant bluster — but the revelation that he published paid material for PR companies masquerading as his own opinion begs a question: was there a similar motivation for his climate denial posts?

As far as I can tell, Hager’s book only mentions climate once, in a discussion of Slater’s pet hates, but it will be interesting to see if the “raw data” now being drip fed into the public domain by the hacker2 who obtained Slater’s emails and Facebook chat messages contains any hints of another motivation — if it indeed it does go beyond the knee-jerk denial so common on the far right of NZ politics. For the record, I should note that Slater once used the words “twat” and “fraud” in close conjunction with my name. It would appear that both are likely to apply rather more aptly to him.

The real world, of course, obeys the laws of physics rather than the wishful thinking of political smear merchants, and out here the signs of continued warming are unmistakable. Europe’s Cryosat has detected a big increase in ice sheet melt at both poles, for example:

A new assessment from Europe’s CryoSat spacecraft shows Greenland to be losing about 375 cu km of ice each year.

Added to the discharges coming from Antarctica, it means Earth’s two big ice sheets are now dumping roughly 500 cu km of ice in the oceans annually.

“The contribution of both ice sheets together to sea level rise has doubled since 2009,” said Angelika Humbert from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Institute.

The atmosphere is also responding to energy accumulation by delivering an astonishing sequence of heavy rainfall events and flash floods. The BBC reports that 160 people have died in floods in Nepal and northern India, while in Hiroshima 36 people have died in landslides triggered by rain falling at rates of 100mm per hour (Japan Times). In Sweden, heavy rain is causing “catastrophic” flooding, while last month northern Italy bore the brunt of torrential downpours. Flash floods also hit parts of Arizona earlier this week. Nor should we forget the heavy rains that brought damaging floods to Northland in July. For a roundup of July’s weather, check out Chris Burt’s blog at Weather Underground.

Some of these rainfall extremes may be explained by the poleward expansion of the tropics, bringing warmer wetter air into the mid latitudes, as this new paper explains. Some of that tropical air may have been tickling Britain, which apart from experiencing some flash flooding has also just recorded its warmest January to July period since records began. And as a WMO conference found this week: “rising temperatures will have a “multiplying effect on weather events as we know them”.

Finally, and in brief: Earth Overshoot Day shot past this week – earlier than ever; warming may be hiding in the Atlantic; Choiseul in the Solomon Islands becomes the first town to relocate because of sea level rise; and The Wireless is running lots of good climate material this week.

  1. See also: why.
  2. @whaledump on Twitter, see here for why whale dumps are important for climate.

People talking’ #17 Gareth Renowden Aug 01

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It being the weekend that truffle growers from all over New Zealand meet to discuss their trade and to eat the fruits of their endeavours, I will be absent from the Hot Topic helm for the next few days. Please use the occasion to discuss anything and everything climate-related, from the state of the climate to bizarre holes in Siberian tundra that may be caused by dragon breath… Keep it polite, please.

People talkin’ #16 Gareth Renowden Jun 25

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I promised an open thread, so here’s one to hold all your latest thoughts and wisdom. What’s it to be? Wind power, silly “solar models” built on notch filters and fudge factors, or the abysmal climate politics afflicting our friends across the Tasman? You decide. I only ask that you abide by the comment policy and stay roughly on the climate beat.

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