On why the V shaped recovery in sustainability is coming fast

News from the Front Desk, Issue 498: John Hewson former Liberal leader is starting to change his tune on climate change: he’s becoming more optimistic. Christiana Figueres, the global climate powerhouse of negotiation, agrees. And so does business. South Pole, a global company that offsets carbon for corporates and consults on sustainability and climate to […]

Coal’s deadly legacy in Australia and the US

Australia, like the US is trying to stick to the coal agenda despite cleaner sources of energy making the fossil fuel irrelevant to our futures. COVID is now a known airborne killer but there’s another one at large that also attacks through the air we breathe: coal. A recent Greenpeace report found that in Australia […]

Construction’s cowboys to get a shakeup in NSW

Dodgy NSW builders, developers and certifiers are expected to get a kick up the backside as sweeping new powers come into force, with the state’s construction watchdog aiming to shake up the industry to provide confidence for prospective buyers.

Cheaper forms of housing in more expensive suburbs? That’s an Orwellian “doublethink”

There’s a draft NSW State Environmental Planning Policy (draft SEPP) for housing diversity out for discussion and it’s sparked the interest of the property developer lobby group Urban Taskforce. The Fifth Estate welcomes thoughts and contributions from other readers on this topic. “Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, […]

Flow Systems is back in action and growing fast

Flow Systems has recruited around 10 people in the last six months and has plans to hire around another 10 in the coming months to join the team of 80 to 90 people. The recruitment drive is to help the company cope with an influx of work providing embedded energy systems, mainly in Queensland but […]

Finding the most adaptable urban trees for a changing climate

Researchers from the Which Plant Where project at Western Sydney University are taking a deep look at how urban trees can adapt to drought conditions to help keep cities green in the face of a changing climate.

Why the RBA is wrong about zoning and house prices. Again.

Here’s one view why the Reserve Bank’s approach on zoning and housing prices is “conceptually flawed, relies on lobbyist input and doesn’t interrogate housing supply evidence or quantify the effects of planning controls”.

To restore our cities’ rivers, we need to decolonise the law reform process

The Yarra Birrarung’s bicultural model recognises the Yarra (Birrarung) corridor in Melbourne as a “living” natural entity of bicultural character: both traditional owner and settler-Australia. But although it offers a pathway to decolonise rivers and landscapes, we need to see real shifts in cultural and power dynamics in Australia’s reconciliation processes. The Yarra River Protection (Wilip-gin Birrarung murron) Act is a remarkable piece […]

We need 3 things to deal with coastal erosion

In these stormy days, one is reminded of Charles Dudley Warner’s quip: “Everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it”. This past week, much to the exasperation of Wamberal residents as they forfeit a good slice of their back yards, we remain confused about what to do and who should do […]

The glimmer of hope that is clean air

In recent months we’ve unexpectedly had to reflect on our lives, work and health, our relationships, travel, neighbourhoods and our cities.

Australia: an emissions superpower

The not-my-problem attitude to fossil fuel exports in Australia is making the country a major contributor to global climate change. Here’s why supply– not just demand – ought to be the target of climate action.

Carbon pricing works: the largest-ever study puts it beyond doubt

Putting a price on carbon should reduce emissions, because it makes dirty production processes more expensive than clean ones, right?

Here’s an idea: Let’s plant our way out of the Covid crisis

There’s never been more love and appreciation of green spaces from the community. So how can we achieve an environmental, economic and health “triple point score” by delivering more and better green space as part of the post COVID-19 recovery?

Breathing space and life after climate change

Life in the civilised lane is rule-bound and consumption-driven to the point that it is not unusual for our heartfelt aspirations to run contrary to the promise of modern living. Not only has the fundamental concept of sustainability become difficult to envisage, but modern-day sustainability seems unable to prevent the social destruction of communities through […]

The Pandemic and city formation

Capital flow is moving Australia’s way – strongly. What’s the bet that well-managed cities are the winner in the aftermath of Covid? As the impact of Covid-19 advances are the old theories still good? Is urban life still viable and desirable?  Much of the response to Covid-19 emphasised distancing, avoiding gatherings and public transport.  In […]

In the eye of the storm, great things are possible

Recovery investment in green infrastructure, education and training, R+D into clean tech and agriculture, and real investment into renewable energy would certainly herald a new policy position on action on climate change. It would assist the economic recovery, and demonstrate a willingness to make smart decisions in the eye of the storm. The Covid-19 emergency […]

Environmental protections on shaky ground as review for EPBC Act looms

At a time when there’s mounting evidence that Australia’s environmental planning laws are “fundamentally broken”, this very same legislation is under threat from a federal government intent on fast-tracking projects as part of its pandemic recovery plan. “Green tape” has been in the firing line of the Covid recovery agenda at least since earlier this […]

Regional cities are doing well: but why?

Regional cities are outperforming urban capitals as national leaders in economic and inclusive growth according to a new study of 101 Australian towns. According to Polis Partners’ The City Report, key regional areas in New South Wales and Victoria such as Wollongong, Newcastle, Ballarat and Geelong, are surpassing their capital counterparts in investments, job growth […]

The Planners Declare movement is here

Australian planners have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency.

Let’s not forget the drought – time to start planning for the next one

We need to start seriously considering our long-term water security options before the next drought hits and urban sewers reach capacity. If we rewind to just a few months ago – before Covid, sporadic flooding, and the worst of the horror bushfire season – we were seriously worried about running out of water. With Australia’s […]

Transforming suburbia into “superbia”

With the pandemic upending normal work life, Australians are rediscovering their local suburbs and considering the bigger role they could play in a post COVID society.

Inside the sustainable, human-centric Bondi Pavilion revamp

The Bondi Pavilion rejuvenation project finally has the go-ahead after many years of impassioned back and forth debate between the community and the local council. In this case the public has emerged triumphant. Included in the plans are green leases for tenants to mandate the use of green packaging and other environmental controls. Developers had […]

On myopic split systems thinking – and environmentalism’s struggle with racism

News from the front desk, Issue 484: According to the social scientists it can take a good 10 years for society to forget a collective trauma and move on.  Even after the actual danger has passed, the fear lives on. We’re wondering if it’s this kind of fear that is making the PM Scott Morrison […]