The National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting data has been released, capturing 2009-10 greenhouse gas emissions and energy consumption data of approximately 300 Australian corporations.

The data reported is the respective totals for:

  • scope 1 emission— greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere as a result of a corporation’s activities
  • scope 2 emissions—greenhouse gases emitted because of the electricity, heating, cooling or steam that is consumed at the facility (but are generated elsewhere) and
  • energy consumption—the use or disposal of energy from the operation of a facility, including own use and losses in extraction, production and transmission.

The full report is available here.

RMIT University researchers are developing a participatory toolkit for establishing local urban sustainability indicators.

The toolkit, Circles of Sustainability, is being developed in partnership with the UN Global Compact Cities Programme, which is based at RMIT.


It brings together city leaders, citizens groups and businesses to identify and debate critical issues and to set targets for progress towards sustainable development.


Developed through pilot projects in cities worldwide, the Circles of Sustainability method has been adopted as part of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme approach to resolving intractable urban development issues.


The pilot projects addressed issues such as sustainable tourism in French cities, sustainable urban planning in Mongolia and infrastructure for clean water in cities in India and the United States.


Professor Paul James, Director of RMIT's Global Cities Research Institute, said the last decade had seen enormous growth in the use of sustainability indicators.


"There are corporate-sustainability indices, city-liveability indices, community-sustainability indices, waste-disposal indices … the list goes on."


He said that developing an adequate indicator set had become a difficult task. The size, scope and number of indicator sets could cause an organisation to lose focus and not use available local resources that could support sustainable practices.


The Circles of Sustainability toolkit supports local communities in developing a means to track sustainable practices in relation to a global framework while encouraging the use of locally relevant quantitative with qualitative measures of sustainability.


It aims to balance economic and environmental sustainability concerns with the political and cultural dimensions of the issue.


When completed in 2013, the toolkit will be an open-access resource for governments, non-government organisations and businesses debating issues and actions required for sustainable urban development.


The Circles of Sustainability project team is led by Professor Paul James and includes contributions by Professor Lin Padgham and Associate Professor James Thom from RMIT's School of Computer Science and Information technology, Professor Hepu Deng from the School of Business IT and Logistics, and Research Fellows Dr Andy Scerri, Dr Liam Magee and Dr Sarah Hickmott.


The project is supported by industry partners FujiXerox Australia, Cambridge International College, Microsoft Australia, Angusta Systems and the City of Melbourne.

Australian-based airline Qantas will collaborate with Solazyme, one of the USA’s leading renewable energy companies, to investigate opportunities for sustainable, algae-based aviation fuel.

Qantas and Solazyme will develop a business case for the introduction of the fuel technology in Australia during the next year.

Qantas also has an agreement with the US-based Solena Group for research into waste-based aviation fuel.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the both projects are part of the airline’s strategy to accelerate the commercialisation of ‘drop-in’ alternative jet fuels to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The costs and environmental impacts associated with traditional jet fuel mean it is imperative that we push hard now for the commercialisation of alternative fuel sources,” Mr Joyce said.

“We want to be at the forefront of this growing sector.”

The Qantas Group is one of the largest fuel users in Australia, consuming 4.6 billion litres of jet kerosene in the last two years, at a cost of $3.3 billion.

Austrade’s Regional Director for The Americas, Grame Barty said, “Austrade has been working with the top US biofuels companies for the past three years as part of a strategy to attract investment and grow the advanced biofuels industry in Australia.

“These agreements highlight both the US market as a leader in this space and Australia as a high-potential, key investment target for international companies,” Mr Barty said.

Qantas said cleaner fuel sources are sought to ensure the company’s long-term sustainability.

The opportunity to comment on a sustainable population strategy for Australia is coming to a close.

The Prime Minister Julia Gillard has outlined the Government’s carbon price mechanism, which it plans to establish mid next year.

The federal opposition has called for an urgent inquiry into the Renewable Energy Target scheme after authorities were forced to cancel permits worth approximately $113 million because of compliance problems. 

A new report by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation has focused on how farmers are responding to the outlook predicted by climate change science.

The WA Government has increased funding for recycling and safe disposal of ‘e-waste’, or electronic/electrical waste, by an additional $1.5 million through the Western Australian Transitional E-Waste Program.

Australia's peak renewable energy body, the Clean Energy Council, has welcomed negotiations that will salvage $100 million for the Solar Flagships Program, which was to be redirected to the Gillard Government's flood program.

The ACT has passed legislation to allow for medium-scale solar installations to access the ACT's feed-in tariff. The ACT Feed-in Tariff Scheme commenced on 1 March 2009 and pays a Premium Price for renewable energy generation in the ACT.

The Tasmanian Government has announced a Future Proofing Tasmania’s Councils project, which will bring together climate change research and projections to be integrated into council policies and procedures.

The Urban Water Stakeholder Reference Panel, which advises the Australian Government on urban water policies and programs, has met in Adelaide to discuss urban water management and the future of stormwater harvesting and reuse.

Victorians have lost confidence in the ability of the state's Environment Protection Authority to do its job, according to a highly critical internal review.

The Federal Minister for Climate Change, Greg Combet has announced an independent Climate Commission, appointing a leading science communicator, Professor Tim Flannery, as Chief Commissioner.

The Australian Government has announced funding for priority adaptation research into preparing Australia for the impacts of climate change.

The Federal government has appointed a  Built Environment Supplier Advocate, Mr John Gaskin, who will help Australian companies identify opportunities and promote their interests in making major building projects and procurements more sustainable. 

The Western Australian Government has called for applications for funding from community and conservation groups through the 2011 Riverbank Grants Scheme for projects to help protect the Swan Canning Riverbank.

The Victorian Government has advised the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) that it does not support the Guide to the Murray-Darling Basin Plan in its current form.

Releasing Victoria's submission to the Guide to the Basin Plan, the Minister for Water Peter Walsh said that the Victorian Government believes the social and economic impacts of the guide are not yet properly understood.

"It is absolutely vital that the findings of the two Commonwealth Parliamentary inquiries into these matters are fully considered before the proposed Basin plan is released for public consultation."

Mr Walsh said with enough water to meet the environment's needs for at least two years, the authority has more time to get the plan right.

"An effective Basin plan will include environmental engineering works and infrastructure investment to get measurable water savings for the environment, rather than drastic cuts in water entitlements held by food producers.

"It involves rebuilding relationships so that regional communities enraged by a divisive process after the guide's release can contribute local solutions for their valleys."

Mr Walsh said a new process would:

Murray-Darling basin reform has been further stymied by a senate inquiry that will investigate whose interpretation of the Water Act is correct - Water Minister Tony Burke’s or former Murray Darling Basin Authority chairman Mike Taylor’s.

Annual emissions projections released by the Federal Government demonstrate that Australia’s emissions will rise steeply without decisive and effective new policy action.

The Federal Government’s climate change adviser Ross Garnaut has labelled Australia one of the largest drags on global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

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