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‘A momentous day for nature’: EU approves first-of-its-kind law that could bring back biodiversity

Our latest selection of articles from New Zealand and around the world on environmental management and sustainability. Click here to subscribe.


The European Union has taken a great first step towards restoring their ecosystems, passing a law that aims to restore 20 percent of Europe’s damaged land and sea ecosystems by 2030. Although this law could be under threat with the rise of far-right politics in the EU, it serves as a reminder of what a government that takes actions to protect their ecosystems looks like.


Speaking of Europe, cars are slowing down in European cities. As we discuss whether lower urban speed limits have a place in New Zealand, European cities are showing the great impacts they have on public health, traffic noise and emissions. Paris have decreased their air pollution by 40 per cent by curbing car dependence in the city – an initiative also approved by the public.


The public support of these initiatives should come as no surprise. 80 per cent of people globally want stronger climate action by governments according to the most recent UN Development Programme survey. This support is echoed in the boardroom and in the laboratory. Shareholders in companies are urging them to end funding for lobby groups that oppose climate legislation, and scientists are turning to activism as a platform for their concern.


Households are also turning to action. Whether it’s for the environment or their wallets, households are becoming a driving force for the energy transition with solar, batteries and EVs. However, we must not turn to deep sea mining to meet the material demand to facilitate this uptake. If the materials in these technologies are critical, how are they ending up in our landfills?


The effects of climate change continue to be seen around the world, but these effects aren’t as easily seen as the strikingly simple visualisation of “warming stripes”. But be warned. The fossil fuel industry has communication tactics of their own – six terms that can be heard in conversations even here on our shores.


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The EU’s Nature Restoration Law aims to restore 20% of the EU’s land and sea by 2030 and all degraded ecosystems by 2050. This law sets binding targets for member states to rehabilitate natural habitats, focusing on areas with high carbon capture potential. Despite facing opposition from conservative parties and farmer protests, the law passed with the support of environment ministers. It includes measures to increase biodiversity, restore rivers, and improve food security, aiming to help Europe meet climate goals and the Paris Agreement pledge to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Read more…


As NZ cities are increasingly discussing lower urban speed limits, we ask what will this really achieve?  If the experience of European cities is anything to go by – actually quite a lot.  In Europe speed limits of 30km have led to safer and quieter neighbourhoods, more livable environments, with lower emissions and reduced dependence on cars.  In 1992, the Austrian city of Graz introduced a 30km speed limit on its main roads.  Two years after it’s introduction, its popularity with residents rose from 44% to 77% and continues to rise. Read more…


As a case in point, since 2014, Paris has closed more than 100 streets to motor vehicles, tripled parking fees for SUVs, removed roughly 50,000 parking bays and constructed more than 1,300 kilometres of bike lanes.  These changes have led to a 40% decline in air pollution, with a majority of Parisians approving of the environmental reforms.  The movement to undo car dependence comes as experts gain a greater understanding of how air pollution contributes to adverse health outcomes and are a significant contributor to global warming. Read more…


2024 has seen an increasing trend of public opinion surveys indicating overwhelming support for stronger action from leaders on climate change. In a global survey carried out by UNDP and the University of Oxford the strongest support for action came from women and countries who are the biggest emissions emitters. The survey also revealed a heightened degree of climate anxiety related to fundamental choices around where and how people live and work. Read more…


Many companies have pledged to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, but they retain memberships in industrial lobby groups that block climate change policies. Investors and employees are now increasingly asking companies to leave the lobby groups which they fund who - like the US Chamber of Commerce - often oppose progress on climate change initiatives. Shareholder resolutions that reach 30% of the vote - particularly from bank shareholders - have been especially successful at driving governance change. Read more…


Climate scientists like Peter Kalmus and Rose Abramoff are resorting to civil disobedience and therapy to cope with eco-anxiety and the climate crisis. Kalmus, fearing job loss, handcuffed himself to a bank to protest inaction, while Abramoff, after being fired, continues her activism. Both emphasise the urgency of climate action and the emotional toll of witnessing environmental degradation. Organisations like the Good Grief Network offer support, helping individuals manage climate-related stress. Their activism is driven by love for the planet and a commitment to making a difference despite the dire situation. Read more…


Australian households – and the solar, batteries and electric vehicles they buy and install – are now being recognised as a major driving force of the country’s green energy transition. Large investments are likely to be made by households changing the fundamental nature of the energy grid. Rooftop solar is expected to grow four-fold from more than 21 gigawatts now to 86 GW in 2050 and home batteries are expected to grow from just 1 GW now to an estimated 7 GW in 2029-30.  EV ownership is also expected to increase. Read more…


A new report by environmental groups lays out a case for banning deep sea mining—and explains why the real solution to humanity’s energy crisis might just be sitting in the rubbish, that’s where the benefits of a circular economy come in. Companies eager to dredge up critical minerals from the seafloor tend to focus on the feel-good, climate-friendly uses of the minerals. But deep-sea mining could create widespread environmental destruction. Let’s work with what we already have by recycling/reusing and leave the seabed and the creatures that live there alone. Read more…


Red, white, and blue stripes. Our shared cultural subconscious connects strong meaning to these symbols. The stripes we talk about today look a bit different and represent something much more sinister. A blue-to-red gradient of vertical stripes, representative of average temperature deviation from the 1961-2010 average, has become a symbol of climate advocacy and urgency. Once a simple bar chart, the visual has travelled far and wide, adorning all manner of things. Its story remains unfinished as it faces new challenges in a destabilised climate, just like the rest of us. Read more…


The language we use can work as a lens, warping the way we communicate the world to others. As communication is rarely one-way, our discussions can warp our interpretation of reality. Weaponised vernacular is common, you may have heard terms like “buzzword”, “strawman”, or “gaslighting” which describe some tools and techniques of manipulative language. These techniques have been deployed to promote apathy and discourage urgency in climate discourse. After learning the six terms in this article, you might find yourself surprised by how deeply they’ve influenced you. Read more…




This week we have the following innovation articles we hope you find interesting:





Hydrology Report - 5 July 2024




Electricity Price Index - 5 July 2024







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