Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Hope for the Holidays: 101 Good Environmental News Stories in 2019

There is reason to hope as we teeter on the cusp of an apocalypse, even as emissions keep rising and ecosystems are collapsing all around us. The ignorance and inaction of national leaderships and the old energy industry can make us feel as though we are doomed.

However, there are also many good news stories that show progress is possible. Here are a hundred and one good news stories from 2019. These stories run the gamut from plastic, energy and the green economy to food, agriculture, trees, wildlife and habitat conservation. The rising tide of protest and changing attitudes even in some conservative politics give us a glimmer of hope in the darkness.


PLASTIC


1. Single-use plastics are being phased out more rapidly building on the 51 plastic-pollution-related legislative victories worldwide.

2. The EU's comprehensive plastics-ban agreement will outlaw ten separate products from straws to plastic cutlery to plastic Q-tip sticks.

3. Some major corporations are also phasing out plastics, this includes McDonalds, Pepsi and Walmart all of which say their packaging be recyclable or biodegradable by 2025.

4. A young UK designer has created plastic alternative called MarinaTex from fish waste and algae.

5. Scientists in Mexico have created a form of biodegradable plastic made from cactus.

6. Thailand supermarkets are replacing plastic wrap with banana leaves.

7. Bangor University researchers are working with leftover farming materials to create trays for fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs.

8. A French startup has developed a new process that uses enzymes to break down the most problematic PET plastics that can be used to make clear water bottles to replace those made from petroleum.

9. A Silicon Valley startup has developed a process to replace plastic in clothing with biodegradable biopolymers.

10. A biologist and amateur beekeeper discovered plastic-eating caterpillars.

11. Scientists discovered a plastic eating mushroom.

12. In Rome, Italy a program to pay for Metro train tickets with plastic bottles has recycled hundreds of thousands of bottles.

13. In Lagos, Nigeria a recycle pay project allows kids to pay for their school fees by recycling plastic waste.

GREEN ECONOMY


14. Millions of jobs have been created by the green economy

15. A new report says there are trillions of dollars of savings associated with climate action.

16. Led by renewable energy the green economy is growing.

17. Led by wind and solar renewable energy investments keep growing

18. Declining battery storage costs are contributing to the growth of renewable energy.

ENERGY


19. New research supports the viability of 100 percent renewable energy

20. Renewable energy is leading a green jobs boom.

21. We are transitioning away from fossil fuels towards clean energy

22. Clean energy growth is outpacing fossil fuels.

23. There are now more jobs in renewable energy than there are in the fossil fuel sector

24. Renewable energy now accounts for around a third of global power capacity.

25. Cities are ready for 100 percent renewable energy.

26. The MENA region is showing renewable energy leadership.

27. Norway decides not to drill for oil leaving 53 billion Euros worth of oil in the ground near Lofoton Islands.

28. Sweden is committed to 100 percent renewable energy.

29. Canada to make clean, affordable power available in every Canadian community.

30. AfDBs solar project in Africa aims to give 90 million people access to electricity.

31. IKEA emerged as a dominant leader in corporate renewables and efficiency. 

32. Major fossil fuel companies have endorsed a carbon tax.

FOOD AND AGRICULTURE


33. There is a rising appetite for plant-based meat

34. Rice farmers around the world are using ducks instead of pesticides

35. South Korea now recycles 95 percent of its food waste

TREES


36. All around the world we are seeing trees being planted at record levels.

37. A man in India planted a tree in India every day for 35 years and created a green space larger than Manhattan.

38. A village in India is planting 111 trees for every girl born in the village. So far they have planted 350,000 trees.

39. Peru has committed to ending palm oil deforestation by 2021.

40.  Canada has promised to plant two billion trees

WILDLIFE


41. Sea turtles are making a huge comeback.

42. Conservation efforts have helped Humpback whales rebound from the brink of extinction.

43. Galapagos iguana makes a return to the island after almost 200 years. 

44. An effort to save the white rhino from extinction got underway with the fertilization of seven eggs from the world's remaining white rhinos.

45. German circuses now use holograms instead of real animals.

46. Baby African elephants will no longer be taken from Africa and sold to circuses or zoos.

47. Canada passes a bill that makes it illegal to keep porpoises, dolphins, whales in captivity for entertainment purposes.

48. Scientists in Finland have developed the world's first bee vaccine designed to help reduce bee mortality.

HABITAT PRESERVATION


49. Canada has increased the amount of land and marine protection zones to 25 percent.

50. Montreal is creating one of the largest city parks in the world.

51. London is creating a seven mile bee corridor that will have plant life that sustains insects.

52. Holland covers hundreds of bus stops with green roofs that support bees.

53. Netherlands built five artificial islands to support wildlife, in 2019 it was reported that these islands are now home to 20,000 birds and 127 plant species.

54, Tim Sweeney, the creator of fortnight is buying and conserving thousands of acres of forest.

55. The world is getting greener according to NASA satellite images.

56. A robot called larvalBot is planting coral to try to revive the Great Barrier Reef.

57. The Natural Resources Management Act was passed in the U.S. creating 1.3 million acres of wilderness and six new national-park units and reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

PROTEST 


58. Greta Thunberg's climate advocacy including school strikes for climate.

59. Youth climate change uprising as part of a diverse protest movement.

60. The biggest climate mobilization in history in September.

61. The largest single climate march in human history took place in Montreal.

62. Extinction Rebellion launched civil disobedience campaigns in the centers of power. 

63. Ende Gelände (End of Story) blockaded German coal facilities in June.

64. Both businesses and employees support the climate strikes.

65. A growing number of people have realized that protesting Trump is essential to the survival of life on the Earth.

66. There has been a major increase in the number of climate emergency declarations around the world.

EVEN THE RIGHT IS GOING GREEN


67. The far-right in France is getting greener. Only a few years ago, France's far-right National Front derided international climate cooperation as a "communist project." In April, the party (rebranded as National Rally) called for European nations to use trade barriers as a cudgel against "rogue states that abandon the fight against climate change."

68. Despite Trump's abdication on the climate issue, some Republicans are now pushing for modest action. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has ridiculed Trump's climate denial and is urging the party to finally "cross the Rubicon." Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) wants "a New Manhattan Project for Clean Energy." Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), released a plan called the Green Real Deal, which he bills as a market-based alternative to the Green New Deal.

69. The incoming European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from Germany's center-right party has put climate policy at the top of her agenda for Europe, ahead of even economic policy.

70. Only a few years ago, France's far-right National Front derided international climate cooperation as a "communist project." In April, the party (rebranded as National Rally) called for European nations to use trade barriers as a cudgel against "rogue states that abandon the fight against climate change."

71. In the Canadian province of PEI Conservatives support environmental protections and climate action.

72. Conservatives in the Canadian province of New Brunswick support climate action.

DEMOCRATS


73. Democrats took the House and welcomed science back to the chamber. 

74. Democrats are united in their resolve to cut emissions and combat climate change.

75. Democrats have pledged to support responsible climate policies if they win in 2020.

76. All ten Democratic presidential contenders seeking the party nomination have unveiled climate plans.

77. Women are leading a Democratic wave in the U.S.

POLITICAL AND NATIONAL ACTION


78. Green party surged in European elections with its best performance ever (third in France and second in Germany). 

79. Swedish climate leadership.

80. Germany unveils $60 billion plan to fight the climate crisis.

81. Both Ireland and Norway have made significant climate action pledges.

82. The UK, the birthplace of the industrial revolution, has reduced its carbon emissions for the sixth year in a row (the last time emissions were this low was 1888).

83. The UK announces a net zero carbon plan.

84. All of Canada's major parties support climate action.

85.  Canadians elect a Liberal minority government that supports climate action.

86. Canada to prioritize climate and environmental action.

87.  Canada to make energy efficient homes more affordable.

88.  Canada to incentivize the purchase of zero-emission vehicles.

89.  Canada to support the development of clean technology businesses.

90. The Canadian province of Nova Scotia puts an end to waste dumping in Boat Harbour.

CHANGING ATTITUDES


91.  Polls reveal unprecedented support for climate action in Canada.

92.  Polls reveal an increased acceptance of climate change in the United States.

COURTS


93. The courts are overturning the Trump administration’s attempts to weaken environmental protections.

94. The Trump administration has won only two of 39 environmental-regulation cases.

95. In April a federal judge ruled that the Trump administration failed to consider the environmental impacts of coal mined on federal lands which is not in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

96. A ruling in March blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to expand offshore drilling in Alaska and off the northeastern coast.

97. A tribe in the Amazon wins its legal battle against oil companies, preventing drilling.

98. Indigenous rights groups in Ecuador win a legal victory protecting parts of the Amazon from gold mining.

MISCELLANEOUS


99. Researchers create a roadmap for saving the Earth from climate change.   

100. On World Environment Day the UN published guides for businesses, cities, governments, schools & universities and individuals.

101. Tiny, hollow silica microbeads are being tested on Arctic ice as a reflective shield against the sun to diminish ice melt. 

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