We learn from each other’s solutions

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A revolution is happening under our noses: We’re watching a bright green coalition begin to build a future that makes sense in our lifetime. Wind energy is now cheaper than coal. The only thing standing in the way for a transition to clean energy and a safer climate is political will.

So let’s talk about what we can do about that. Welcome to the 56th Sustainable Hour on 17 December 2014, our last in 2014.

Guest in the studio:
Sam Smith, Future Proofing Geelong, Sustainable Living Festival

Live phone interviews:
Josh Creaser, Canberra spokesperson, 350.org
Arron Wood, councillor in Melbourne City Council, chair of the Environment portfolio. Board member of Sustainability Victoria

Speech excerpts:
Steve Sawyer, CEO, Global Wind Energy Council
Jeremy Leggett, SolarCentury chair, European Photovoltaic Industry Association
Scott Ludlam, Australian politician, The Greens’ senator for Western Australia



Listen to The Sustainable Hour no. 56:

» To open or download this programme in mp3-format, right-click here (Mac: CTRL + click)


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More information

Learn more about the the topics we touched upon in the 56th Sustainable Hour…


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Audio excerpt from the 56th Sustainable Hour:

Interview with Arron Wood

Duration: 10 minutes   | Click here to open or right-click to download the mp3 audio file

In this interview, Melbourne councillor Arron Wood gives some pieces of advice to Geelong as far as carbon emissions and greenhouse gas strategies goes.

Melbourne has a target of being able to power 25 per cent of the entire municipality (33 km2, 120,000 residents) with renewable energy sources in 2018. At the moment, the figure is between 8 and 10 per cent. Commercial buildings account for over 50 per cent of the municipality’s carbon emissions.

“City of Melbourne has been one of the leading organisations for over a decade. We see it as being a good business opportunity as well as minimising risks, creating resilience and also: our residents and businesses want it. So we think it is a good way to move.”
Arron Wood

Arron Wood is councillor in Melbourne City Council, chair of the Environment portfolio. He is also a Sustainability Victoria board member.

» Arron Wood’s profile page on www.melbourne.vic.gov.au

» Arron Wood’s Twitter profile

In the interview, Arron Wood mentioned the these two programs:


1200 Buildings

The 1200 Buildings program aims to encourage and support building owners, managers and facility managers to improve the energy/water efficiency and reduce waste to landfill of commercial buildings in the municipality of Melbourne.

Retrofitting benefits owners by future proofing building assets against rising energy costs and attracting and retaining tenants. It also benefits society by lessening the sector’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

The City of Melbourne boldly aims to be carbon neutral by 2020. Fifty percent of the municipality’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the commercial sector. If commercial buildings improve their energy efficiency by approximately 38 percent, 383,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions (CO2-e) will be eliminated per year, equivalent to 7,660,000 black balloons. This will contribute significantly to the City becoming carbon neutral.

Managing water is also a high priority and the City has a target to reduce potable water use in the commercial sector by 5,000,000,000 litres.

» Download the 1200 Buildings advice sheet (PDF, 76kb)

» 1200 Buildings: Fund your next retrofit with environmental upgrade finance

Smart Blocks

Smart Blocks is a national program helping apartment owners and their managers to improve the energy efficiency of common property in apartment buildings. “Smart Blocks helps you save energy in your apartment block’s common areas. Use our expert guidance to start projects, work together and tune up your building.”

» www.smartblocks.com.au

Energy efficiency tips and advice

If you are looking for information about improving energy efficiency inside your house or apartment:

» www.livinggreener.gov.au

» www.liveability.com.au



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Scott Ludlam thanks the fossil-free movement

Published on youtube.com on 3 December 2014.

“Everyone who spent this year turning the divestment movement from an interesting idea into a material risk to fossil fuels, I can’t thank you enough.”



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Geelongians: Get involved

Josh Creaser suggests Geelongians to support the Anglesea coal powerplant Shut it Down campaign – and to divest.

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“It is becoming ever clearer that Victoria must catch up with the rest of the world and move beyond our embarrassing and dangerous dependence on coal. Anglesea is an obvious place to start. Alcoa must shelve its plans to sell and, like any guest who has outstayed their welcome, at least clean up their mess before they leave.”
Surf Coast Air Action

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Climate myth #4 of 8 – “Sorry Grandpa, but your economics belong in the 50s.”


The Sustainable Living festival

The program for The Sustainable Living festival hasn’t been published yet. You can follow the development via updates on Facebook:

» www.facebook.com/SustainableLivingFestival




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Powering the world with wind and solar

Global Wind Energy Council and European Photovoltaic Industry Association held an interesting press conference at COP20 in Lima on 10 December 2014 where two speakers – Steve Sawyer, Global Wind Energy Council CEO, and Jeremy Leggett, speaking on behalf of European Photovoltaic Industry Association – highlighted the huge potential of wind and solar technologies in terms of cost reduction, power generation and CO2 emission savings.

» See their presentation in full (30-minute video) on unfccc6.meta-fusion.com

» Share this on Facebook

» More video presentations by Jeremy Leggett

“There is a global revolution underway in the electricity sector, led by wind and solar. The two technologies are transforming the way we produce and consume energy, which is good news for the climate: wind and solar will prevent the emission of 3,800 million tons of CO2 each year by 2030, and it could be much more with the right policy and market framework.”

» gwec.net: Wind and solar: The Energy Revolution is Happening Now



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The state of global energy markets

Video: Dr Stephen Chu, Nobel Laureate and former US Secretary of Energy, speaks in Canberra on energy policy

If you found Steve Sawyer and Jeremy Leggett’s video presentation above interesting, you will also like this one with the former US Secretary of Energy, Dr Stephen Chu.

Tim Buckley, Director of Energy Finance Studies, Australasia, wrote about the video:

“For those with 50 minutes to spare, below is the link to the Australian National Press Club presentation given by Former US Secretary of Energy Dr Stephen Chu.

Dr Chu gives a really impressive summary of the state of global energy markets, why climate change policy is a no-brainer (he gives a clear commercial context to why China is acting on PM2.5, the delayed impact of rising ocean acidity and sea levels, reinsurance risks etc) and why the transition to a lower carbon economy is inevitable. Very informative, sensible, positive and compelling. Maybe a few journalists might even question Australia’s stance a bit more on the back of it.”

» www.abc.net.au


“In just 15 years, the world as we know it will have transformed forever. The age of oil, gas, coal and nuclear will be over. A new age of clean power and smarter cars will fundamentally, totally, and permanently disrupt the existing fossil fuel-dependent industrial infrastructure in a way that even the most starry-eyed proponents of ‘green energy’ could never have imagined.”

» motherboard.vice.com: How Solar Power Could Slay the Fossil Fuel Empire by 2030


Perth council to seek mandate on renewable energy for new homes

A Perth council is hoping to radically alter its planning scheme to require new homes to have their own energy supply.
» ABC on 10 Dec 2014: www.abc.net.au

Electric car news: three Australian firsts

1) the first-ever public solar recharging station opened at The Macadamia Castle in NSW
2) Tesla opened their first Australian showroom and unveiled the beginnings of their Supercharger network
3) the first hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles have arrived.
» www.echo.net.au

Good news about Aussie rooftop solar

Another 15,000 Australian homes added rooftop solar in the month of November, taking total for year to date to more than 170,000.
» Reneweconomy.com.au: Australia adds another 75MW rooftop solar in November

» Thefifthestate.com.au: Canberra leading the nation on sustainability


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Renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace

Globally, renewable energy capacity grows at fastest ever pace, the International Energy Agency said in a report published in August 2014. Wind, solar and other green technologies is producing 22 per cent of world’s electricity, and IEA reckons that hydro and other green technologies could be producing 26 per cent of the world’s electricity by 2020.

» Read more on www.theguardian.com



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New initiative: Art of Change

Artists, social and green entrepreneurs and young climate activists are going to design and lead some international climate action for COP 21 under the initiative Art of Change.

COP 21 is the 21st international conference on climate change which will take place in Paris in December 2015.

Convinced that artists, young eco-players and entrepreneurs are a solution to the climate crisis, Art of Change 21 is betting on their collaboration to define a singular international climate action that will go beyond typical green activist practices.

On 28-29 November 2014, Art of Change 21 organised the ‘Conclave of the 21’ at la Gaîté Lyrique in Paris.
An international meeting gathering 21 players from all over the world to brainstorm and to define an action. Together, they came up with an innovative action that will mobilize citizens one year later, on the eve of COP 21. The initiative has a “disruptive” approach. It is not a pre-packaged solution but a collaborative and international process.

Art of change 21 is officially recognised and supported by the French government’s Ministerial Steering Committee as a COP 21 civil society project and is a non profit organisation. The association is funded and chaired by Alice Audouin, a French pioneer and renowned actor in sustainable development, “engaged art” and responsible communication.

» Twitter profile: www.twitter.com/Artofchange21

Related Twitter streams:
» #AOC21
» #COP21



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Ethical Christmas gift ideas

Eco lunchboxes – a years supply of veggies – an environmentally sound soccer ball – fairtrade chocolate – the Shopping Companion, guide to chemicals…

Check for instance:
» www.geelongsustainability.org.au/gifts

» www.ethical.org.au

» www.thegiftofnothing.com



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Catholic bishops call for ‘an end to the fossil fuel era’

A group of Catholic Bishops called on the world’s governments to end fossil fuel use on Wednesday, citing climate change’s threat to the global poor as the lodestar of their concern.

» Read more on www.thinkprogress.org

According to the BBC, the statement is the first time senior officials in the Church from every continent have issued such a call.

» BBC News: Global group of Catholic bishops call for end to fossil fuels

» The Guardian: Former archbishop of Canterbury reveals global climate change fears
Rowan Williams blames western lifestyle for ‘pushing environment towards crisis’ ahead of IPCC report




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Coal train stopped

Eight people have stopped the first train load of Maules Creek coal into Newcastle after one protestor delayed the train for over six hours. Jonathan Moylan from Frontline Action on Coal said, “Over the last twelve months, hundreds of people have been arrested slowing down construction of the Maules Creek mine. The fate of our country, and people everywhere, depends on coal being left in the ground. In the absence of leadership from the industry or the Government to shut down coal exports and prevent dangerous climate change, ordinary people have taken extraordinary action to stop this mine.”

» Read more at: www.350.org.au

» Twitter: ‪#‎LeardBlockade‬ and ‪#‎NoNewCoal‬


Fourth coal terminal given thumbs up
In New South Wales, a fourth coal terminal has been given the thumbs up by the Planning Assessment Commission, paving the way for the NSW Parliament to approve it. Community groups in Newcastle have been campaigning against T4 for years.
The Newcastle Herald had an online poll asking readers whether they support the recommended approval.

Exxon sees abundant oil and gas far into future

In a forecast that might make economists happy but environmentalists fret, Exxon’s two chief products, oil and natural gas, will be abundant and affordable enough to meet the rising demand for energy in the developing world as the global middle class swells to 5 billion from 2 billion and buys energy-hungry conveniences such as cars and air conditioners.
» www.environmental-expert.com




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Climate change


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Talking points for Christmas conversations

With the usual Christmas family gatherings and socialising coming up, maybe this year you could try to show this one minute video to your climate-denying uncle:

Climate science explained in 60 seconds by the Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences. Published on youtube.com on 10 December 2014.

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the U.K. Royal Society have also co-authored an excellent (and colorful) climate change primer – a Climate Change Q&A – that lays out the answers to 20 common questions—great to have up your sleeve for that awkward Christmas lunch with your climate-denying cousin:

» www.royalsociety.org (PDF)



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The climate change performance index 2015

After the reversal of climate policies previously in effect, Australia has lost a further 21 positions in this performance index compared to last year, replacing Canada as the worst performing industrial country on climate change action.

» Germanwatch – By Jan Burck, Franziska Marten, Christoph Bals – 8 December 2014:
www.apo.org.au



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Australia heading in wrong direction on emissions targets

The current government in Australia has made no secret of its doubts about the scientific evidence of climate change – but new research confirms that the country’s greenhouse gas emissions are rising fast.

Australia’s emissions of climate-changing greenhouse gases are going up and up – and are set to rise by more than 50 per cent over 1990 levels by 2020, according to new research.

Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an independent science-based programme that analyses the emission commitments and actions of countries around the world, says Australia’s present emission levels are about 31% higher than in 1990 and continue to rise.

“In terms of emission effort, Australia will be going in the opposite direction to China and the US, who are putting effort into reducing emissions,” says the CAT analysis.

» www.climatenewsnetwork.net



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Australia: Emissions are soaring

Australia cooking the books to meet emissions target as carbon pollution soars

As Australia picked up its shameful fourth Fossil of the Day award at the Lima climate talks, Climate Action Tracker (CAT) released a new analysis showing that creative accounting and years of diplomatic maneuvering is allowing Australia to increase emissions while still meeting its minimum five per cent reduction commitment.

CAT says in real terms Australia’s emissions are likely to be 26 per cent above 2000 levels by 2020, and a huge 47-59 per cent above its original Kyoto pledge. Yet while its actual emissions are soaring, Australia can still meet its already lax commitments with barely any action thanks to being selective on baseline emission sources, and its creative approach to accounting for land use change and forestry.

Australia has now taken to making threats if it is not allowed to use these favourable rules, which would allow it to emit a further six per cent more carbon on top of its already worst-in-show per capita emissions.

New data shows Australia has been cooking the books on its emissions, with favourable rules allowing it to say it will meet its already insufficient commitment when carbon pollution is actually set to soar. It has been able to do this by tweaking of land use rules in its favour, and by arguing how its emissions levels will be calculated under the second Kyoto commitment period.

Australia’s emissions reduction target needs to be at least triple its current five per cent on 2000 levels by 2020 for it to be credible. For it to meet its share of the challenge to keep average world temperatures below 2°C it needs to be far higher.

The Abbott government has been doing everything it can to wreck positive action on climate change at home, and it is attempting to crawl away from its responsibilities internationally. So far at home it has axed carbon pricing and a host of climate bodies, crippled renewable energy with uncertainty, quietly dropped the “25” part of its 5 to 25 per cent emissions reductions pledge, and doubled down on coal in a collapsing international market.

It has finally made a contribution to the Green Climate Fund, however, as this amounts to a shuffling of money it said it had already committed to “climate projects” as part of its foreign aid programme, this has not won it much favour. These are not the actions of a “good international citizen” that is “playing its part”.

Quotes

“It has become increasingly apparent that whenever Australia has talked of committing to reducing emissions, what it really means is that it will continue to increase emissions from fossil fuel and industry sources. Instead, it has hidden its emissions behind the Kyoto rules, most of which it has exerted considerable diplomatic effort over more than 15 years to secure in its favour.”
Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics

 

“Australia’s lack of fully transparent data does not permit scientifically-based verification of the published Australian Government estimates of Kyoto LULUCF debits for the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, which are the opposite to those we estimated. Fully transparent data on Australian projections and estimates of future LULUCF emissions and removals are needed in order for the CAT to revise, improve and, hopefully, even reverse our estimates.”
Dr Louise Jeffrey, The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

 

“Australia’s attempts at the climate negotiations in Lima to change the definition of emissions to avoid having to cut an additional 80 million tones of emissions, which is small compared to the overall reduction needed, is disappointing, when they should be strengthening the 2020 pollution reduction target.”
Kellie Caught, WWF Australia climate change national manager

 

“Before Foreign Minister Julie Bishop left Australia she said one of her reasons for coming to the climate talks in Lima was to change the accounting rules that relate to Australia achieving its pollution reduction target. Australia held the world to ransom when the Kyoto Protocol was first negotiated by demanding special consideration for emissions relating to land use when it knew all along that our land clearance rates and emissions were already falling. If Australia is successful here in Lima in having the same rort apply for the rules of the second Kyoto commitment period it will make it much easier for Australia to meet its pathetic five percent target without having to lift a finger and make a genuine global contribution.”
Christine Milne, Greens Leader

» Source: www.treealerts.org



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Be prepared: climate change and the Victorian bushfire threat

Firefighters, emergency services and communities need to prepare for much greater bushfire risk from climate change, argues a new report from Climate Council.

“Our firefighters, emergency services and communities need to prepare for much greater bushfire risk from climate change. Victorian communities will be among the most affected.”
Climate Council’s report on bush fire

» Climate Council – By Lesley Hughes – 8 December 2014:
www.apo.org.au

» Read more about the report on www.climatecouncil.org.au

» Download the report (PDF, 39 pages, 18 MB):



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Scandal of our century: fossil subsidies

The $548 billion US dollars that is paid annually in fossil fuel subsidies around the world is preventing a crucial transition to renewable energy sources. (US$548 billion according to a report released from the International Institute for Sustainable Development).

As it keeps building up, this could end up being perceived as the scandal of our century. Considering the impact climate disruption will have on every human being in the next decades and centuries to come, unless we transition away from burning fossil fuels, there is no longer any excuse:

The science is in. We have the massive fifth report from the United Nations’ Climate Panel, IPCC, telling us, including our elected leaders, that the continued burning of fossil fuels now threatens our economy, health, food security, prosperity, environment and literally everything we hold dear on this planet.

So when will we reach that point where politicians who have taken an oath to act in the best interest of their nation, continue to ignore science – and continue to hand out subsidies to the fossil fuel industry will be held accountable for committing a crime against humanity?


“Perverse form of corporate welfare”
In Australia, fossil fuel subsidies cost the Federal budget over AUS$10 billion every year, encouraging more pollution, blocking clean energy and discouraging companies from being more efficient with energy and fuel, according to Environment Victoria. “Because these subsidies promote the burning of climate-altering fossil fuels, they represent the most perverse form of corporate welfare,” wrote Environment Victoria.

If Treasurer Hockey and Prime Minister Abbott want to fix the Federal budget, they should start by cutting the AUS$10 billion spent each year propping up polluting activities.

Another report from Oil Change International (US) and the Overseas Development Institute (UK) has highlighted the perverse incentives governments are giving to fossil fuel companies, with G20 governments spending AUS$100 billion (USD$88 billion) a year searching for NEW oil, gas, and coal reserves – instead of investing in clean energy. For Australia alone that figure amounts to AUS$4 billion a year.

» www.odi.org
» www.treealerts.org

Really, at a global scale, this is not unlikely to end up being perceived as the scandal of our century. Even so, hundred of thousands of working journalists in mainstream media continue to report nothing about this topic.

Send a message to Treasurer Hockey and Prime Minister Abbott

Environment Victoria wrote:

“The “age of entitlement” was supposed to be over, remember that? Yet in the latest Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook, the Federal Govt confirmed that they will continue to protect fossil fuel interests while cutting back on everyone else…
Let them know that this is NOT okay!”
» www.environmentvictoria.org.au/endbigpolluterhandouts



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“Coastal property values will crash”

“Coastal property values will crash when a large fraction of the financial community and of opinion-makers — along with a smaller but substantial fraction of the public — realize that it is too late for us to stop 1.20–1.50 metre of sea level rise.”

“This month, multiple studies found that both the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) and Greenland are poised to continue their accelerating ice loss, with WAIS apparently now in a state of irreversible collapse. This in turn has led top climatologists and glaciologist to warn that we are headed toward the high end of sea level rise projections this century and beyond. What does that mean for coastal property?”

» www.thinkprogress.org



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United Nations’ climate scientists: summary of the key findings

“More than 800 scientists contributed to IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report which is several thousand pages long, with over 30,000 citations to mostly peer-reviewed scientific articles. The reports were subject to rigorous quality control. Two draft versions of the Report were distributed to experts and governments which resulted in over 143,000 comments. According to the IPCC’s procedures, the authors are required to respond to all of them.

Here is a summary of the key findings:
We are now certain that the burning of fossil fuel and human emissions of greenhouse gasses have contributed to the current warming of the planet.
We can observe the effects of climate change and many places are already experiencing the impacts.
In order to avoid dangerous climate chaange, we can only emit another 1,000 gigatons of carbon dioxide.
Three quarters of our fossil fuel reserves must be left untouched.
Some degree of climate change is inevitable.
We must prepare and adapt to a changing climate.
There is still time to avoid dangerous climate change through a combination of mitigation and adaptation.
This will require fundamental changes in how we organise our societies.
There are sufficient renewable energy sources to meet our energy needs.
The economic costs of mitigation have a small impact on economic growth.
Mitigation can have positive effects on human health, food security and energy supply.
The transition must start now.”

globalweirding.is/here#explainer3

Wondering what would actually happen if we just ignore climate change? Check: www.globalweirding.is/here



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New film: Saving My Tomorrow

“This show is for the children, because tomorrow belongs to them. Their passion will make the difference in saving our planet.”
~ Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films

The new documentary ‘Saving My Tomorrow’ is a heartwarming call to action “from the children who will inherit the Earth.” The HBO series is a collection of songs, activism and tips on protecting the Earth, featuring readings and performances by Tina Fey, Lennon and Maisy, Ziggy Marley, Stephin Merritt, Liam Neeson, Willie Nelson, Susan Sarandon, Neil deGrasse Tyson, They Might Be Giants, Jeffrey Wright and more.

» www.hbo.com/documentaries

Saving My Tomorrow is presented in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History starting with this two-part family special tonight followed by a four-part series beginning Earth Day, 22 April 2015.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with HBO on this important program highlighting children’s passion for nature and their instinctive sense of responsibility to care for our environment,” says Ellen V. Futter, president of the American Museum of Natural History. “Our children will inherit the planet, so it is only fitting that their thoughts, concerns and inherent love of nature be part of the larger conservation discussion.”

Throughout the film, kids share their concerns about the damage that is being done to the planet, endangered animals, climate change and more. Saving My Tomorrow combines science, animation and music to celebrate nature and is a “call from kids to kids to help take care of the planet.”

“I assure you that no matter where you are on this planet, we are all affected by climate change,” says Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, a 13-year-old indigenous environmental activist from Boulder, Colorado.

“Earth is our home. We only have one and if we mess this up … where do we go next? We don’t have another Earth right next to us, just in case we lose this one,” says Hippocrates Polemis, an 8-year-old featured in Saving My Tomorrow.

The documentary can also be watched on HBO GO and HBO On Demand. For additional times and listings, go to HBO.com.

» www.hbo.com



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Let’s start using the Genuine Progress Indicator

It’s interesting to see two states in the US, Maryland and Vermont, have adopted the GPI to help guide policy

Several other states are allegedly considering the same. It is time for the rest of the world to realise the reality of our un-economic growth policies and practices and move to build a real economy that provides sustainable and equitable prosperity for all. The UN Sustainable Development Goals process is an important move in this direction.

» www.theconversation.com



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