SMC Science Deadline: COP21 climate talks, NZ's households emissions and AusSMC turns 10

By Sciencemediacentre.co.nz received 3 years ago

Categories: Science
Age: 19 until 30 year 31 until 64 years 65 and older
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Issue 354, 27 Nov 2015

In this issue:

Climate talks
Getting NZ greener
AusSMC is 10
Policy updates
New from the SMC

Quick Links

SMC Alerts
Media Registration
About us
Contact the SMC

Top news from scimex.org  the Science Media Centre's news sharing platform.

Anti-fat attitudes shaped early in life

Voluntary folic acid policies fail to prevent birth defects

Stopping train crashes in their tracks

Plant-based chemicals could reverse terminal cancer

New from the SMC

SMC Blog: Covering the Paris climate conference? The SMC is here to help   In the News: Paris climate talks set to kick off   Expert reaction: 2015 likely hottest year on record – WMO   In the News: Toddlers and anti-fat attitudes   Expert Reaction: Emissions linked to transport, diet

  Applications still open for Wellington two-day workshop in Feb 2016
Apply Here

New from the SMC global network

Australian SMC
  Expert Reaction: Federal Government‘s Mental Health Plan   Briefing: Power battle – Comparing electricity costs into 2030   Briefing: WMO release global temperature data – how is 2015 stacking up?   Expert Reaction: Genetically modified fruit fly to be trialled in WA
Briefing: Power cuts and electricity blackouts   Expert Reaction: Committee on Climate Change’s 5th Carbon Budget   Expert Reaction: Axing £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) scheme   Expert Reaction: Spending review and autumn statement   Expert Reaction: WMO report on status of global climate 2015    

Gearing up for climate talks

All eyes will be on Paris next week as the UN Climate Change Conference kicks-off on this Monday.
The conference will, for the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, aim to achieve a universal agreement on climate, with the aim of keeping global warming below 2°C.

The Science Media Centre will be monitoring the negotiations in Paris closely and working with experts and journalists to ensure informed, accurate and up-to-the-minute coverage of the conference and associated events.

Journalists seeking to get in touch with New Zealand experts, both in Paris and New Zealand, for reaction and comment can contact the SMC more information.

We will also be collating announcements, news coverage and expert reaction on the Science Media Center website under the COP21 tag available here.

The coming conference has not been missed by the New Zealand media; in recent days there has been no shortage of commentary from New Zealand researchers, politicians and advocates in anticipation of the talks.
You can read a wrap-up of recent opinion and analysis on the SMC website.

If you are wondering what all this Paris conference talk is about, some useful background can be found in great scene-setting articles from RNZ’s Chris Bramwell and BusinessDesk’s Pattrick Smellie (meanwhile the Tobys –Toby Morris and Toby Manhire – offer a more tongue-in-cheek view of the meeting for RNZ).

Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said the climate actions plans put forward by countries "represent a clear and determined down-payment on a new era of climate ambition from the global community of nations.
"Governments from all corners of the Earth have signalled through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions that they are determined to play their part according to their national circumstances and capabilities.”

You can keep up to date with all COP21 news on the on the SMC website.

Policy news & developments

Engaging young Kiwis with science and tech: Nearly $1 million of new funding has boosted 25 new projects around the country to engage more young Kiwis with science and technology under the Unlocking Curious Minds contestable fund pilot.
Soft Plastics Recycling Programme launched: Soft plastics like grocery bags and cling film can now be recycled, thanks to a joint initiative between the retail sector, the packaging industry and the Government.
Emissions Trading Scheme review starts: The Government has begun its review of the Emissions Trading Scheme to assess its operation and effectiveness to 2020 and beyond
A generation from now - our long-term goals: The Ministry for the Environment has published a new booklet outlining the long-term environmental goals for sustainably encouraging New Zealand's economic, social and cultural prosperity.

Getting to a greener NZ

The carbon footprint of the average Kiwi household is getting smaller, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.


Household emissions sources. Click to enlarge

According to a new working paper from Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, consumption emissions from individual households fell by almost 5 percent since 2007. However, due to the rise in New Zealand’s population, the total amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere from Kiwi households’ overall consumption is increasing.
The Motu researchers found that transport and food were the largest sources, responsible for the majority of households’ emissions. They say that households looking to reduce their emissions should look at what they consume in these categories first, so they can make meaningful changes.
To help people figure out the best choices to reduce emissions for their individual households, Motu joined forces with ChewyData and The New Zealand Herald to create the Household Climate Action Tool.  The tool uses information based on annual household expenses to make personalised suggestions. As incomes rise, individual household emissions may also go up - so what works well for one household may not for another.
"We’re hoping our research will help householders understand the impact of their spending choices and identify the most significant opportunities to mitigate their impact on emissions," says Dr Suzi Kerr, Senior Fellow at Motu, in a media release.
"Climate change solutions are possible at the individual level and we hope this shows people how to take effective action."
Prof Ralph Sims, Professor of Sustainable Energy & Director of the Centre for Energy Research at Massey University, agrees:
"This Motu report reinforces that we cannot continue to live in the way we are currently doing, progressing along a throw-away pathway, using up limited resources and knowing the impacts of our habits on the environment," he explains.
"We urgently need to find a new low-carbon pathway that ensures we better value our food, energy, mobility, chemicals, packaging and clean water choices."
You can read more about the report and accompanying expert reaction on the SMC website.

Quoted: RNZ

"Clearly I've made no progress...
"Every single ward round, I am seeing patients that are morbidly obese, and have medical problems as a result.
"We are ordering more and more large sized beds, we're ordering more hoists. It's expensive, and there is going to be more of it.""
  Obesity campaigner Dr Robyn Toomath says she's giving up fighting to lower obesity rates in New Zealand

Happy birthday AusSMC, mate

A very happy birthday to our trans-Tasman cousins at the Australian Science Media Centre, who are celebrating 10 years today!

Reflecting on a decade of hard work, AusSMC CEO Susannah Eliott writes:
“The period since the AusSMC opened in 2005 has been one of dramatic change, with the full impact of social media and the internet age forcing a seismic shift in the Australian media landscape.
"As a lean and nimble organisation, the AusSMC has adapted to these changes, jumping hurdles and finding new ways to help journalists cover science and inform public debate on key issues.”
Peter Griffin, Director of the New Zealand Science Media Centre, congratulated the AusSMC on their milestone.
"They've worked incredibly hard and achieved a huge amount, including helping the NZ SMC find its own footing when we were getting started," he said.
"We're wishing them all the very best for the future."
The AusSMC will be celebrating tonight with a birthday party today at their headquarters in Adelaide.
The event features a panel discussion on “The big culture shift – how do we build narrative around topics in science and innovation that really matter?”
Panellists include Oxford University Professor Susan Greenfield, ABC’s Robyn Williams, UTS Professor of Journalism, Peter Fray and DVC Research at the University of South Australia and PM’s Science Council member Professor Tanya Monro.
You can watch the discussion livestreamed from 7pm NZT here.
Congratulations from the New Zealand Science Media Centre!

New from Sciblogs

Some of the highlights from this week's Sciblogs posts:
Cinderella men - Eric Crampton discusses evolutionary biology as an explanation for stepfathers killing children that are not their own.
Offsetting Behaviour
Studies show – or do they? - Ken Perrott shows that a study shows that sentences starting with the words "studies show" tend to be followed by inaccurate information (except for this sentence!)
Open Parachute
Blogging – what is it good for? The answer, Victoria Metcalf hopes, is not “absolutely nothing”.
Ice Doctor

Upcoming events

Please see the SMC Events Calendar for more events and details. Science Communicators' Association NZ conference - 30 Nov and 1 Dec, Wellington. Conference themed around engaging society & sharing knowledge.
  100 Years of Nutrition - 1-4 Dec, Wellington. Joint Annual Scientific Meeting of the Nutrition Societies of NZ and Australia focusing on nutrition in war, as well as topical issues in food, nutrition and health of concern now and in the future.
  Great Barrier Reef Passions: Why history stories matter - 2-10 Dec, various locations. Iain McCalman takes a look at how stories of the Great Barrier Reef's past have become sources which are shaping the reef communities of today.

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