News in brief: ASBEC & better homes, $1 b in new dams for NSW, world’s green stimulus

Wyangala Dam

The Australian Sustainable Built Environment Council (ASBEC) is calling on the government to build better, sustainable homes as a means to boost the post-COVID economy.

On Tuesday, ASBEC unveiled Tomorrow Homes, a new policy framework to deliver sustainable homes that the organisation estimates will inject over half a billion dollars in housing sector investments, create 7000 new jobs and save Australians $600 million on electricity bills.

The framework outlines five key recommendations: national leadership, new benchmarks and upskilling opportunities, a thousand home pilot program, a consumer engagement program and financial leveraging to reward sustainable development.

With COVID upending business-as-usual for the construction sector, ASBEC President Professor Ken Maher still sees some possibilities in housing production such as commencing the pilot program to help builders skill up and give consumers tangible proof of sustainable homes’ benefits.

Victorian recycling needs $1 billion investment

Victoria recycling holds the potential to recover 90 per cent of its recycled resources by 2039 with a $1 billion investment in new infrastructure from the government and private sector.

According to a new report from Infrastructure Victoria, investing in new recycling infrastructure in regional Victoria would create 5000 new jobs, reduce transport costs and recycle valuable materials for later use.

“By encouraging investment in new infrastructure and developing new uses for recycled products, we can transform to a circular economy,” Infrastructure Victoria chief executive officer Michel Masson said.

Aurecon and KBR partner with WaterNSW on water security

WaterNSW announced its water infrastructure portfolio will be managed by WaterSecure, a joint venture between international engineering company Aurecon and KBR.

WaterSecure will be responsible for managing drought response, overseeing water security projects and improving sustainability and water resilience throughout NSW.

The Aurecon/KBR collaboration has previous experience with water security managing SA Water’s capital plan program worth $1.2 billion in investments.

WaterNSW’s upcoming portfolio includes over $1 billion in new dam projects for drought affected rural areas.

EU unveils world’s greenest stimulus package

The EU is making green recovery the cornerstone of its pandemic economic strategy.

The $1.2 trillion stimulus program aims to accelerate a clean transport transition, increase renewable energy production and increase energy savings in line with the EU’s 2050 climate targets.

The package is the largest of its kind, an ambitious move as sustainable development takes a backseat in other national COVID-19 bailouts.

US states fight back on fuel efficiency rollbacks

On Wednesday, 23 US states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration’s decision to lower fuel efficiency standards.

The decision, one of several environmental rollbacks announced during the pandemic, reduced vehicle efficiency standards to a 1.5 per cent increase in efficiency, weakening the ambitious 5 per cent increase standard finalised in 2012 under Obama.

A separate lawsuit was filed the same day by 12 environmental groups including the Environmental Defense Fund and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

BCSD Australia absorbs FBC

The Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia (BCSD Australia) will carry on the mantle of sustainable development as the Future Business Council (FBC) closes.

The FBC will transfer all of its intellectual property to BCSD Australia as well as its alumni network and contacts. FBC Chair Toby Kent will join the BCSD Australia Board.

“FBC’s decision seeks to unify the voices for progressive, forward-looking business in Australia, which is best achieved by supporting BCSD Australia’s mission: to accelerate the transition to a sustainable Australia by making more sustainable companies successful,” Kent said.

Possibility of breadbasket failure doubles

Climate change is set to double the risk of multiple breadbasket crop failures across the world’s top producers, threatening a significant spike in food prices.

According to a new study from the McKinsey Global Institute, there is an 18 per cent probability of at least one extreme weather-induced multiple crop failure by 2030, up from the previous ten per cent between 1998 and 2017.

Corn, soy and rice production are the most affected by rising temperatures and more frequent droughts, threatening nearly half of the global population’s diet.

Based on previous food shortages, McKinsey estimates prices could skyrocket one hundred per cent or more, increasing the likelihood of severe economic shocks and social and political unrest.

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