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City-wide trial shows how road use charges can reduce traffic jams

The Conversation, 23 November 2017
Road congestion in large Australian cities is estimated to cost more than A$16 billion a year. Economists have long argued the best way to improve traffic flow is to charge drivers for their contribution to road congestion. We have now analysed data collected from 1,400 drivers across Melbourne to see whether road user charging can change their behaviour in ways that ease congestion. And the answer is yes.
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Looming oil price shock that could trigger the next global recession

The Age, 20 November 2017
Revenge, it is said, is a dish best served cold. When Mohammed bin Salman rounded up more than a hundred of Saudi Arabia’s richest businessmen, investors and members of the royal family and imprisoned them in the comparative luxury of Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton, cheering the crown prince on from the sidelines was one Donald Trump. “Some of those they are harshly treating have been ‘milking’ their country for years!”, he tweeted. Despite the present glut in supply, the oil price has again been creeping up. Long in abeyance, we are seeing the re-emergence of a geopolitical risk premium. Generally, this is taken for granted in the oil price, but in recent years it all but disappeared, apparently made redundant by the advent of US shale. Now it is coming back. Like a siren going off, traders are suddenly waking up to an old bogey – the possibility that rising tensions could close the Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately a fifth of world oil supplies pass.

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How your personal information funds share bike schemes

Sydney Morning Herald, 14 November 2017
You’re 25, you ride your brightly-coloured share bike across the city to get dinner and drinks with friends at the same pub every Friday, you take the same route home, and leave the bike near your house each time.

That kind of portrait is legally captured by the navigation systems and phone apps linked to the dockless share bike schemes quickly spreading across Australian cities, and is a valuable source of income, especially when they charge as little as $1 per half hour.

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Norway’s $1 trillion wealth fund proposes dropping oil and gas stocks

Financial Times, 16 November 2017
Norway’s trillion-dollar sovereign wealth fund has proposed dropping its investments in oil and gas stocks, saying western Europe’s biggest energy producer already has enough exposure to petroleum. The Norwegian central bank, which runs the Oslo-based fund, said its view was that dumping investments – which includes companies like BP, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil – would make the country’s wealth “less vulnerable to a permanent drop in oil and gas prices”.

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Electric cars’ green image blackens beneath the bonnet

Financial Times, 8 November 2017
The humble Mitsubishi Mirage has none of the hallmarks of a futuristic, environmentally friendly car. It is fuelled by petrol, runs on an internal combustion engine and spews exhaust emissions through a tailpipe.But when the Mirage is assessed for carbon emissions throughout its entire lifecycle — from procuring the components and fuel, to recycling its parts — it can actually be a greener car than a model by Tesla, the US electric vehicle pioneer, in regions with particularly high carbon emissions from electricity.
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Negative charge: why is Australia so slow at adopting electric cars?

The Conversation, 9 November 2017
In the race to adopt electric vehicles, Australia is sputtering along in the slow lane. Rather than growing, Australian sales of electric cars are actually in decline. In 2016 they represented just 0.02% of new car sales – even lower than in 2013. Contrast that with Norway, the country with the highest levels of electric car adoption. Almost 30% of new cars sold there in 2016 were electric.
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Islands lost to the waves: how rising seas washed away part of Micronesia’s 19th-century history

The Conversation, 9 November 2017
At first glance it may not seem so, but the story of the now-vanished island of Nahlapenlohd, a couple of kilometres south of Pohnpei Island in Micronesia, holds some valuable lessons about recent climate change in the western Pacific. In 1850, Nahlapenlohd was so large that not only did it support a sizeable coconut forest, but it was able to accommodate a memorable battle between the rival kingdoms of Kitti and Madolenihmw. The skirmish was the first in Pohnpeian history to involve the European sailor-mercenaries known as beachcombers and to be fought with imported weapons like cannons and muskets. Today the island is no more. The oral histories tell that so much blood was spilled in this fierce battle that it stripped the island of all its vegetation, causing it to shrink and eventually disappear beneath the waves.
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How do we turn a drain into valued green space? First, ask the residents

The Conversation, 8 November 2017
The green infrastructure of our cities includes both publicly owned, designed and delineated areas and less formal, unplanned areas of vegetation — informal green spaces. These spaces account for a large proportion of urban green areas. However, they are often among the most overlooked and neglected urban spaces, which contributes to negative perceptions, a recent study has found. Yet informal green spaces represent a largely untapped opportunity to improve liveability and residents’ health and social well-being. Especially in lower socioeconomic areas that lack formal green spaces, improving the condition of informal green spaces can promote their use and enhance neighbourhood liveability.
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