BusinessGreen brings you all the news from around the world this week
New Zealand sets climate change as key priority in groundbreaking 'wellbeing budget'
New Zealand has become the first Western nation to prioritise wellbeing over economic growth in a groundbreaking Budget released by the country's Treasury yesterday.
Alongside more support for addressing mental health issues and child poverty in the country, yesterday's Budget cited the climate challenge as one of its key priroities.
The Budget earmarks $229m for 'productive and sustainable land use', a $2bn capital investment in the country's rail network, and promises to inject $80m operating and $15m capital funding into science and research on climate change and new energy technologies.
"As an outward facing export nation the risks to New Zealand from climate change cannot be underestimated," said Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. "More frequent and intense weather events will affect the country's agricultural and horticultural sectors, with flow-on implications for exports and the economy as a whole."
"The transition to a low-carbon economy will take time and Budget 2019 is an important step," she said.
US rebrands natural gas as 'molecules of freedom'
Natural gas has undergone an unusual rebrand in Washington circles, after a memo from the Department of Energy referred to the fuel as "freedom gas" and "molecules of freedom".
In a widely mocked release this week, the DoE championed natural gas as a "diverse and affordable source of clean energy" for America's "allies" around the world.
The release was touting a boost in exports of LNG from a plant on Quinatana island off the coast of Texas. It's not the first time the US has tried to position fossil fuels as 'clean' energy - President Trump has repeatedly trumpeted 'clean coal' as a sustainable source of energy for developing countries.
Regulators approve 400MW Rhode Island wind project
Renewables developer Orsted this week received regulatory approval for one of USA's first commercial-scale offshore wind projects.
Rhode Island regulators approved a 20-year power-purchase agreement with DWW Rev I, LLC - a joint venture between Orsted and local supplier Eversource.
The 400MW farm on Rhode Island, dubbed 'Revolution Wind', will generate enough clean energy to power more than 270,000 US homes every year - a quarter of the total power demand for the island.
Once permits are completed, construction is expected to start he farm is set to start in 2020, with the farm set to become operational in 2022. It will be only the second offshore wind farm on Rhode Island - and the entire of the US - following the commissioning of the 30MW Block Island Wind Farm in 2016.
Dutch insurer Nationale Nederlanden unveils new coal exclusion policy
Nationale Nederlanden, a Dutch insurance and asset management company with €260bn in assets under management, has said it will no longer underwrite or make investments in mining companies that derive more than 30 per cent of their revenue from coal extraction, and of power companies that produce more than 30 per cent of their power production from coal.
Nationale Nederlanden also said it will phase out coal from its proprietary investment portfolio by 2030 and only provide new insurance cover to clients that have five per cent or lower exposure to coal-related activities by 2030.
The deadline of 2030 is aligned with climate science goals to keep global warming below 1.5C, the firm said.
Malaysia sends back plastic waste
Malaysia released plans this week to send back thousands of tonnes of waste to countries including the US, UK and Australia, in protest at becoming a "dumping ground" for the world's trash.
Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said developing countries like Malaysia have struggled to cope with increased imports of foreign rubbish after China stopped taking low-grade plastic waste from foreign countries in January 2018.
"Malaysia will not be a dumping ground to the world ... we will fight back," she told a news conference. "Even though we are a small country, we can't be bullied by developed countries."
South Africa prepares for carbon tax
A new carbon tax is set to take effect in South Africa from tomorrow, imposing a cost of 120 rand ($8.30) per tonne of carbon dioxide on industrial emitters and energy generators.
South Africa relies heavily on coal, and the move to tax emissions is rare for a developing nation. "Climate change represents one of the biggest challenges facing humankind, and the primary objective of the carbon tax is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a sustainable, cost-effective and affordable manner," the Treasury said in a statement.
But critics have pointed out that the costs for polluters will be largely offset by tax breaks, with Greenpeace raising concerns over its effectiveness.
Australia's greenhouse gas emissions rise for fourth year running
Australia's greenhouse gas emissions rose 0.4 per cent in 2018 according to preliminary figures, continuing a four-year trend.
Emissions hit 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent, according to Australia's official submission to the UN.
The news puts Australia even more off track to meet its goals under the Paris Agreement, which are also not in line with the treaty's targets.
Pontiff yesterday warned leading investors and energy giants that climate change 'threatens the very future of the human family'
SSE will close its last coal-fired power station early next year, to leave just five coal plants left on UK grid
New report from the Institution of Engineering and Technology concludes there is 'no reason' why hydrogen can't safely be used in the UK gas grid
Renewables employment hits highest ever level despite slowdown in China