New Zealand bans new offshore oil and gas exploration permits

April 12, 2018 by  
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New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, set a goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050 — and she’s taking action now. This week, she said the country will no longer grant new offshore oil and gas exploration permits, Reuters reported . Ardern said in a live Facebook video , “The whole world is going in this direction. We all signed up to the Paris Agreement that said we were moving towards carbon neutrality and now we need to act on it.” Ardern surprised the oil and gas industry with her announcement, which won’t impact the 22 existing exploration permits, Reuters said. She said in the Facebook video in making this decision, she considered ensuring security of supply; job security, especially for places where jobs center around the fossil fuel industry; and meeting their obligations and ambitions around tackling climate change . (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = ‘https://connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.12’; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, ‘script’, ‘facebook-jssdk’)); A few details on the big oil and gas announcement we made today A few details on the big oil and gas announcement we made today… Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 Related: New Zealand plans to power its grid with 100% renewable energy by 2035 Not everyone is happy about Ardern’s decision. Neil Holdom, mayor of New Plymouth in the Taranaki region, which Reuters said is energy -rich, described the move as “a kick in the guts.” Taranaki Daily News quoted Energy and Resources spokesperson for the opposition party Jonathan Young as saying, “What will replace gas as the demand for more electricity rose with electric vehicles and we don’t have enough renewables . It will be coal — good one government.” Ardern said permits can last for years, and “that’s why we have to make decisions with really long lead times about what we do in the future.” She said the country will “continue onshore block offers” for three years and then review again. Environmental organization praised the move. Greenpeace New Zealand executive director Russel Norman told The Guardian , “Today’s announcement is significant internationally too. By ending new oil and gas exploration in our waters, the fourth-largest exclusive economic zone on the planet is out of bounds for new fossil fuel exploitation…Bold global leadership on the greatest challenge of our time has never been more urgent and Ardern has stepped up to that climate challenge.” + Jacinda Ardern on Facebook Via Reuters , Taranaki Daily News , and The Guardian Images via Thomas Hetzler on Unsplash and Depositphotos

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New Zealand bans new offshore oil and gas exploration permits

Kitty Hawk is testing electric self-flying taxis in New Zealand

March 13, 2018 by  
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Self- flying taxis could zip through the skies of New Zealand if Kitty Hawk has anything to do about it. Financed by Google co-founder Larry Page, the company has reached an agreement with the country to test the planes for an official certification process, according to The New York Times — and aim for a commercial network in three years. Kitty Hawk could beat Uber in building a network of electric self-flying taxis. They’ve found a collaborator in New Zealand; prime minister Jacinda Ardern told The New York Times, “We’ve got an ambitious target in New Zealand of being net carbon zero by 2050 …exciting projects like this are part of how we make that happen.” Related: Google co-founder Larry Page secretly invested over $100M in two flying car startups Kitty Hawk’s vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft, called Cora , will have a range of around 62 miles to start . 12 independent lift fans power the taxi so it can take off and land much like a helicopter , and doesn’t require a runway. With a 36-foot wingspan, the aircraft flies between 500 and 3,000 feet above the ground at around 110 miles per hour. Two passengers can ride inside, and The New York Times said the company is developing an app enabling travelers to call a self-flying taxi. The publication said Kitty Hawk doesn’t intend to sell their VTOL planes, but rather operate the commercial network. Kitty Hawk is based in California, and a company called Zephyr Airworks is their operator in New Zealand. The project went by the code name Zee.Aero for a while, which Kitty Hawk said was the name of their Cora team during the development stage. The New York Times pointed out nearly every prediction about how fast air taxis would take to the skies has been wrong — it remains to be seen if Kitty Hawk will be able to deliver. + Kitty Hawk + Cora Via The New York Times Images via Kitty Hawk

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Kitty Hawk is testing electric self-flying taxis in New Zealand

‘Food in the Nude’ project in New Zealand supermarket reduces plastic use

February 7, 2018 by  
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A New Zealand grocery store, New World Bishopdale , is attempting to slash their plastic use creatively with a new “Food in the Nude” project. And no, it’s not about people getting naked. It’s about serving produce without a pile of packaging. According to SUPERMARKETNEWS , New World Bishopdale has installed a refrigeration shelving system for displaying vegetables and fruit without plastic packaging . New World Bishopdale is having fun with cutting plastic. Owner Nigel Bond told SUPERMARKETNEWS in his 30 years in the grocery store industry, they’ve received the most positive customer feedback ever as a result of the store’s Food in the Nude program. It’s comprises a pretty simple change: display produce sans polluting plastic packaging. Related: 100% biodegradable, edible packaging is so much better than plastic “Customers hailing from the USA tell us that it reminds them of shopping in Whole Foods back home…The new system works by misting the produce with water to keep it fresh. Vegetables are up to 90 percent water and studies have shown that misted produce not only looks better and retains its color and texture, it also has a higher vitamin content,” Bond told SUPERMARKETNEWS. “We’ve also installed a reverse osmosis system that treats the water by removing 99 percent of all bacteria and chlorine, so we are confident that the water we’re misting with remains pure. The misting is electronically controlled and provides great in-store theater; children just love it.” He said because the system helps keep the fruit and vegetables fresh, less are wasted. Other New World stores could follow; New World Wigram has already made the switch. New World Bishopdale is also offering reusable string bags for weighing and carrying produce without plastic. New World hopes to get rid of all single-use plastic bags in their stores by the end of this year. In an October press release , they said they’re taking steps like giving away two million long-life reusable bags to customers, introducing a voluntary donation for plastic bags that will go towards environmental causes, and continuing a rebate for the use of reusable bags in North Island stores which they said “has resulted in a 20 percent reduction in plastic bag use.” Via SUPERMARKETNEWS and New World Images via Depositphotos and New World Bishopdale

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Manta5’s new electric water bike lets you cycle on rivers and lakes

December 19, 2017 by  
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Forget about biking on boring old roads. New Zealand -based company Manta5 has created a hydrofoil bike that allows cyclists to glide atop water. Equipped with a battery and a quiet 400-watt electric motor, the Hydrofoiler XE-1 is poised to make a splash in the cycling world. Guy Howard-Willis glimpsed New Zealand’s coastline and waterways while riding his bike, and he dreamed of cycling right on the water. He met cycling enthusiast and bike designer Roland Alonzo and they set to work developing a water bike for six years. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 allows adventurers to glide through the water on rivers, lakes, or even the ocean. Related: The Schiller X1 Lets You Bike Across the Waves The electric bike can be manually powered, or riders can get a boost from an electric motor. A single battery charge provides around an hour of pedal assistance. Manta5 says the battery and motor will last for a long time in both saltwater and freshwater due to cutting-edge waterproofing techniques. A carbon fiber-reinforced nylon propeller produces thrust at low speed and reduces drag at top speed, according to Manta5. The bike’s frame is comprised of an aircraft-grade aluminum alloy chosen for its low weight and high strength. It’s simple to assemble and transport the Hydrofoiler XE-1 thanks to its modular design. Manta5 is planning their pre-sale launch for February 2018; you can register here . They’ve priced the water bike at around $5,237. They plan to release a small number of limited edition models in New Zealand before going international, but those living outside the country can still register their interest. If you live in New Zealand, you can also enter the company’s competition to win the first Hydrofoiler XE-1 here . + Manta5 Images via Manta5

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Manta5’s new electric water bike lets you cycle on rivers and lakes

New Zealand aims for grid completely powered by renewables by 2035

November 8, 2017 by  
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New Zealand’s new prime minister has ambitious goals to seriously slash carbon emissions . Jacinda Ardern, who became prime minister in late October, wants to transition the grid to 100 percent renewables in less than 20 years. Her ultimate goal for New Zealand is zero carbon emissions by 2050. New Zealand’s 4.7 million people already obtain over 80 percent of electricity via sustainable sources, according to Bloomberg . But Ardern – now the world’s youngest female leader – seems to think they can do even better. She wants the country to move over to obtaining electricity completely from renewable energy by 2035. Related: New Zealand river world’s first to obtain legal status as a person The move won’t be without its challenges. New Zealand generates around 60 percent of their power from hydropower , according to 2016 figures. But when dry conditions cause lake levels to drop, gas and coal have helped out. Without those fossil fuels , electricity consumers could experience price hikes. But the country still has made a lot of progress towards the ambitious goal; in the winter of 2016, renewable energy generation actually peaked at 93 percent, according to Bloomberg. Ardern hasn’t put out full details of her plan to get New Zealand to a carbon-free status. She has suggested an independent commission to help meet the 2050 goal. New Zealand’s independent advisory body Productivity Commission has an inquiry into transitioning to a low carbon economy. Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson told Bloomberg 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 .” Contact Energy chief executive officer Dennis Barnes also pointed to solar – and batteries and electric vehicles – as technology that could help New Zealand move towards a greener future. Via Bloomberg and Futurism Images via Depositphotos and Good Free Photos

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New Zealand aims for grid completely powered by renewables by 2035

New Zealand considering special visas for climate refugees

October 31, 2017 by  
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Impacts of climate change , like rising sea levels , will likely soon force people to abandon their land . Now the new government of New Zealand is considering action. They’re thinking about creating an experimental visa category for people prompted to leave their homes because of climate change. People living on some Pacific islands could be displaced because of sea level rise, and New Zealand might help out. Climate change minister James Shaw recently told Radio New Zealand there could be an “experimental humanitarian visa category” for people from the Pacific, saying, “It is a piece of work that we intend to do in partnership with the Pacific islands.” Related: Five Pacific Ocean islands have already disappeared because of climate change Some people have already applied to be refugees in New Zealand because of climate change – and have been turned away. Radio New Zealand reported , just days before Shaw’s announcement, the cases of two families from the island nation of Tuvalu who had applied to be New Zealand’s first climate refugees , only to be rejected. The tribunal said they didn’t risk persecution due to race, nationality, religion, or membership in a religious or political group under the 1951 refugee convention, according to The Guardian . Alberto Costi, international environmental law expert at Victoria University of Wellington , told The Guardian, “The conditions are pretty strict and really apply to persecution. These people who arrive here hoping to seek asylum on environmental grounds are bound to be sent back to their home countries.” And the Tuvalu families aren’t the only people who have been turned away. Ioane Teitiota of Kiribati applied to be the world’s first climate change refugee in 2014. New Zealand’s supreme court dismissed Teitiota’s case, and he was deported. Costi expressed interest in Shaw’s idea but told The Guardian there would need to be clear guidelines – one issue would be how to legally determine whether or not a climate change refugee was able to still reside in their home country. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos and Wikimedia Commons

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New Zealand considering special visas for climate refugees

The free grocery store fighting food waste and hunger

September 13, 2017 by  
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The Free Store, a non-profit organization and grocery store based in Wellington, New Zealand, is serving food for free and aiding in the fight against food waste . Originally started as a two-week-long art project by artist Kim Paton in 2010, the store has now grown into a more permanent institution, stocking its shelves with surplus food from bakeries and supermarkets. In redistributing free food that would otherwise have gone to waste, the Free Store has proven to be a valuable community space. “There are no conditions on who can come to The Free Store,” said co-founder and director Benjamin Johnson. “There are no criteria. Anybody can come for whatever reason and take whatever they want.” Food waste is a major social problem in New Zealand , as it is in much of the industrialized world. Kiwis, or residents of New Zealand, dispose of approximately $625 million worth of food (120,000 tons) each year. Globally, it is estimated that total food waste weighs up to 1.3 billion tons. Meanwhile, people still go hungry. “We saw the potential in an untapped food supply. You had food that was perfectly good to eat, and then you had people that were hungry . We could facilitate a connection between the two,” said Johnson. Related: Britain’s first zero-waste store is packaging-free and only sells ethical goods The Free Store is made possible through support from volunteers , donors, and around 65 suppliers, located around Wellington city center eager to put their surplus food to good use. According to Johnson, the Free Store distributes between 800 to 1,500 food items each weeknight between 6 PM and 7 PM, averaging about 250,000 food items; that amounts to $1 million worth of food saved per year. Since its establishment, the Free Store has spread to four locations throughout New Zealand, adapting their model and funding structure to fit each area. “All you need is a space to operate from, surplus food, people who need the food and will come and take it, volunteers, and a committed group of people who can actually do it,” said Johnson. “There has to be local ownership. In every area where there’s a Free Store, there needs to be a deeply rooted community of people.” + The Free Store Via EcoWatch Images via The Free Store

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Dreamy cabin is a luxurious escape in the New Zealand bush

September 4, 2017 by  
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Cabin envy is real with this gorgeous Back Country house in New Zealand’s Puhoi bush. Designed by David Maurice of LTD Architectural , this timber-clad holiday home combines backcountry tradition with beautiful contemporary design. The environmentally sensitive cabin was built with locally sourced materials and makes use of passive heating and ventilation. Inspired by New Zealand’s backcountry typology, the Back Country house boasts a simple and clean silhouette comprising a single volume for the communal activities and a lean-to annex for the lower floor sleeping and service areas. The main volume embraces indoor-outdoor living and is open fully on two sides to a large wraparound deck. The deck feels like an outdoor room with its large fireplace and twin built-in bathtubs. Related: Seascape cottage is a self-sustaining getaway made from locally-sourced materials Locally sourced bandsawn macrocarpa is used inside and out to reinforce the cabin’s connection to the outdoors, while galvanized corrugated iron strengthens the hut aesthetic. Natural light floods the open-plan living room, dining, area, and kitchen, as well as the mezzanine master suite. To add interest to the mostly white and timber palette, bright and colorful furniture punctuate the spaces. Passive heating and ventilation as well as high performance insulation keep the Back Country house’s environmental impact low . + LTD Architectural Via Contemporist Images via LTD Architectural

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Dreamy cabin is a luxurious escape in the New Zealand bush

Zaha Hadid Architects wins bid for the Port of Tallinn Masterplan

September 4, 2017 by  
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Zaha Hadid Architects just won an international competition to redevelop one of Europe’s fastest growing ports in Estonia’s bustling capital of Tallinn. The Masterplan 2030 will oversee a comprehensive and long-term redevelopment strategy for the Old City Harbor and reconnect disparate parts of the city into a more cohesive whole. Pedestrian friendly design, improved public transit access, and increased public space are part of ZHA’s redevelopment plans, as is sensitivity to the city’s historic fabric. An uptick of cruise ships and ferries to the Port of Tallinn has accelerated the demand for better passenger services as the port moves beyond just cargo needs. ZHA’s aim is to redevelop the port into a more attractive and easy-to-traverse urban space. The design will combine Tallinn’s innovative digital information technology with the charms of Tallinn’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities. “We’re honoured to work with the Port of Tallinn, developing unique solutions to create these important connections for the Old City Harbour’s long-term vision,” said Ginaluca Racana, Director at Zaha Hadid Architects. “Supported by its network of new pedestrian routes and public transport links, the masterplan reinvents a familiar space in Tallinn and reconnects the city with its harbour, enabling residents to reclaim a part of the city that is currently difficult to access and designed only for transit.” Related: Zaha Hadid Architects turn an old fire station into a sparkling port headquarters for Antwerp The new masterplan is centered on a central pedestrian promenade with branching pedestrian footpaths that connect disparate parts of the city and link the ferry and cruise terminals to the city center. In addition to the emphasis on connectivity, the design preserves the city’s urban fabric from existing vistas to the sizing of new city blocks. The flexible and mixed-use civic spaces will provide cultural, entertainment, shopping, and hotel amenities to the over 5 million visitors to the port every year. The masterplan for the Old City Harbour is expected for completion by the end of 2017. + Zaha Hadid Architects Renders by VA

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The Tesla of solar electric yachts launches in New Zealand

June 21, 2017 by  
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The future of boating is electric – and silent. That’s what Dutch company Soel Yachts says, and they’re bringing electric travel to the seas with their SoelCat 12. Inhabitat covered the boat’s design last year , and now the company is launching their sustainably-powered yacht in New Zealand . The yacht is kind to the environment not simply in the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions , but in the reduction of noise pollution as well. The SoelCat 12, which was built in New Zealand, is powered by the sun. Soel Yachts describes the boat as the ‘ Tesla on the water,’ noting while cars are transitioning over to being powered by electricity , the same movement largely hasn’t occurred in boating. They want to revolutionize the boating industry, and are debuting the SoelCat 12, designed in partnership with Naval DC , in Auckland, New Zealand this week. Related: Solar-powered yacht sails silently for a cleaner, greener eco-tourism experience The company says it wasn’t enough to just stick an electric motor on a boat. They kept electric propulsion in mind as they designed the SoelCat 12, evidenced for example in the highly efficient lines of the hull. Traveling at a speed of eight knots, the yacht can run simply on battery power for six hours. Reducing the speed to six knots, the boat can travel for 24 hours – even at night when the yacht’s solar panels aren’t harvesting energy. The boat’s systems can be monitored on a phone or tablet, allowing boaters to see their energy use as in a Tesla, according to Soel Yachts. Soel Yachts co-founder Joep Koster said in a statement the SoelCat 12 “reduces all disturbing sound and CO2 emissions in our harbors, lagoons, and oceans .” The solar electric yacht quietly glides through waves, minimizing disturbance in the form of noise pollution to marine life. And the yacht is still useful even when it’s not in use. Soel Yachts says the boat can become a mobile power station, offering energy for as much as five homes, even in remote locations. + Soel Yachts + Naval DC Images courtesy of Soel Yachts

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