Welcome to our two weekly review of energy and environmental events and developments from both here in New Zealand and around the world. As always, we hope you find our collection of articles to be of interest in what continues to be a rapidly evolving area.

This week’s theme examines some rapid and innovative developments in the electric vehicle market, how the Internet of Things has the very real ability to shape how we interact with city infrastructure, and some stand-alone articles discussing how artists are messaging climate change, what the Romans got right when inventing concrete and the very deep and murky world of international seabed mining.

An electric bus just drove 1,770km on a single charge – that’s the road distance from Invercargill to Auckland! Furthermore, charging the bus can be achieved in just an hour. If a bus can do this, the potential of all large platform electric vehicles is huge, as it is for smaller e-vehicles also.[1]

The e-bike, a very small e-vehicle, is fast becoming more desirable. Is there a need for more regulation around e-bikes as they are become more and more powerful? A selection of very cool new models are available – we have our favourites, but these are probably not your everyday bike though…[2]

The WBCSD Vision 2050 predicts the 2020’s will be the decade of transformation, and with 70% of the world’s 9 billion population expected to be residing in cities, mobility is going to be a significant issue. This is where the Internet of Things is expected to become invaluable and provide a pathway to decouple transport from emissions.[3]

Vancouver has plans to become the world’s greenest city by 2020. It is hard to argue with this vision, as it has re-purposed inter-city roads in favour of bicycling – by simply closing one lane. It has also introduced an education programme for its city residents into how best to manage waste – which has now reduced by 50%.[4]

As a small historical Spanish city, Pontevedra, has also demonstrated, it is possible to take back the roads from cars. Since 1999, traffic in the historical centre has been reduced by 97% with the mayor, Miguel Anxo Fernandez Lores, quoting “he can hear people talking outside instead of engines and horns. “It’s amazing”.[5]

We next examine the works of 18 “green” artists, all of which produce art in very different ways to highlight climate change and conservation. For example, included here are an 800 year old ice installation, a toxic sludge painting and 1,600 Panda’s, which all, in some way, highlight climate change and environmental concerns.[6]

We have always been told that if you are going to build something, build it right first time. The Roman’s certainly had this in mind when developing concrete. With structures still standing after 1,500 years what was the secret? By using a mix of volcanic ash, lime (calcium oxide), seawater and lumps of volcanic rock, this combination only strengthened over time, making modern concrete pale in comparison.[7]

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) regulates the sea floor outside nations’ jurisdiction - an enormous expanse that encompasses nearly 50% of the Earth. Due to technological advances and growing demands for mineral resources, seabed exploration and mining opportunities are gathering apace. With many of these opportunities at depths of over 4km, coupled with discoveries of new species, getting the balance right between an economic boom or an environmental bust is critical.[8]

Thanks for taking the time to read this issue and we look forward to catching up with you again. If you have any items of interest you would like to submit, then please feel free to forward them.


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