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Private Sector Announce Future of Rainforest Conservation Will Be Determined By Finance and Regulation



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The future of sustainable development in the Asia Pacific Region is critical with respect to access to finance and the supportive legal and regulatory environment.

This was the key message taken by private sector businesses to the Asia Pacific Rainforest Partnership (APRP) Summit as Governments, farmers, businesses, NGOs and academics met today to help realise the goal of building on the Paris Climate Change Agreement by significantly reducing emissions from the deforestation and degradation of the 740 million hectares of forest spread across the Asia-Pacific region.

The Asia Pacific Rainforest Recovery Plan Private Sector Roundtable is made up of businesses including Asia Pulp & Paper Group (APP), Wilmar, Sime Darby, New Forests, PT Rimba Makmur Utama, Simmonds Lumber and Baker and McKenzie, amongst others.

After just 6 months of working together, the members today published details of pilot conservation projects and policy recommendations in an effort to push for new mechanisms to facilitate public private engagement on rainforest protection projects.

Amongst the projects submitted by the Private Sector Roundtable there is the the potential[1] to safeguard forests in landscapes covering approximately 500,000 hectares and to improve the livelihoods of up to the same number of people living in villages where these projects are being implemented. Preserving rainforests, especially those on peatlands, will avoid the release of 20 tons of CO2e per hectare per year, which would have been released with the conversion into short rotation crops/plantations, according to IPCC methodology. Scaling these projects up could transform sustainable economic development and green growth across the entire Asia-Pacific region, but only if further finance and support can be unlocked.

Action at scale is essential with forests playing a critical role in climate change, food security, peoples’ livelihoods and biodiversity with the UN FAO recently highlighting an urgent need to promote more positive interactions between agriculture and forestry to build sustainable agricultural systems and improve food security.

“The work of the roundtable, over just a short six months of collaboration, shows that the private sector is already taking a leadership role and ready to act quickly in tackling issues around climate change and deforestation, paving the way for even greater collaboration between governments, companies and civil society, and the possibility to develop a new financing model to leverage existing efforts being undertaken by the private sector” said Australia’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg.

The pilot projects demonstrate how low carbon development can be promoted across the Asia Pacific region. Spanning a range of countries in the region, they showcase a variety of potential new business models based on a landscape approach, from biodiversity credits to smallholder certification. Finance and interested partners are urgently needed to scale these types of projects up across the region.

Sustainable landscape management does not recognise administrative boundaries.

“Forest protection, restoration and sustainable development require collaboration to innovate and create new business models and crucially, ensure that the stewards of the land – smallholders – are involved and benefit directly from these projects.” says Aida Greenbury, Managing Director of Sustainability for APP and Chair of the Private Sector Roundtable.

“The members of the Private Sector Roundtable have highlighted four key challenges that we need to resolve if we want to make the Paris agreement a reality and arrest deforestation in the Asia Pacific region: How do we incentivise businesses when participation in the carbon market is voluntary and carbon prices are low. How do we monitor progress, what baseline are we working from? And most importantly, how can we leverage the role of the private sector, how can we organise finance mechanisms that actually deliver cash to the smallholders and stakeholders in the forest? These are the people at the frontline of protecting rainforests in our region.”

The private sector roundtable has taken these issues in a package of policy briefs which provide recommendations to governments, other private sector actors, and civil society. “Without a supportive regulatory environment and a clear economic return provided for taking action to undertake REDD+ or other forest protection measure , reaching the Paris goal of mobilising $100 billion by 2020, will remain a far-off dream. The private sector stands ready to step up investment and encourages further collaboration with other partners and in particular donor governments at the summit to ensure that the 450 million people in Asia and Pacific that depend on forests for their livelihood can continue to do so long into the future,” says Martijn Wilder AM of Baker and McKenzie, and Vice-Chair of the Private Sector Roundtable.


New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



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Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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