Positive climate action is making a difference. Oh, no, you’re saying. Here goes one of those feel-good stories from a tree-hugger, right? Another idealist who doesn’t see how the climate crisis is essentially insoluble. Then again, what if we all could harness positive personal resources and apply them to promote zero emissions? Couldn’t this kind of psychological capital morph into a collective social identity that spurs positive eco-system behaviors? A person’s belief system can inspire positive climate action and lead to substantive change, you know. It really can.
In a recent report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that, in order to limit the global temperature rise which is undermining energy security, electricity tapped from clean energy sources must double over the next 8 years. That goal is going to require a lot of wherewithal on the part of governments and corporations, yes, but also of individual citizens who are willing to commit to systemic change to ward off climate pollution.
When we commit to protect the environment and uplift society, it enhances our feelings of pride and meaningfulness. If individuals connect their real, genuine, and actual efforts to protect the environment with betterment of society, then other positive climate action outcomes are likely to amplify.
With those rah! rah! concepts in mind, let’s focus on environmental responsibility, the welfare of the society, and individual responsibility for contributing towards social and environmental progression. It’s a confluence of safeguarding the environment, greening the planet, increasing environmental awareness, taking care of society, donating actively, engaging in philanthropic services, and considering ethics and morality in decision making. And it makes us feel good and want to increase our engagement.
Here are some positive environmental stories from 2022 that support the belief in positive climate action.
The continuing rise of renewables: Renewables have saved 230 million ton of CO2 emissions in the first half of 2022, according to analysis conducted by think tank Ember. The year-on-year growth in wind and solar alone prevented global power sector emissions rising by 4% in 2022. That’s 230 million tons of CO2 saved, equivalent to more than twice Germany’s power sector emissions of 104 mt in the same period.
The smallest engineers: Beavers are among the world’s most effective practitioners of climate adaptation and resilience, something biologists have known for years but have recently documented through field study. They’re now a protected species in England, 400 years after they were hunted to extinction. It is now illegal to deliberately capture, insult, kill, or otherwise disturb beavers in the UK. “Changing the legal status of beavers is a game-changer for these amazing eco-engineers, which benefit both other wildlife and people,” says Joan Edwards, director of policy and public affairs at The Wildlife Trusts, which has pioneered their reintroduction.
Toys from recycled or plant based materials: Want a Matchbox Tesla Roadster made from 99% recycled materials? How about a Barbie constructed from recycled plastic trash collected in Mexico? Toddlers can play with plant-based plastic solar panels on the Mega Bloks Build & Learn Eco House. Aligned with Mattel’s goal to achieve 100% recycled, recyclable, or bio-based plastic materials in their products and packaging by 2030, the company has introduced several new toy products which incorporate more sustainable resin feedstocks and integrate principles of product stewardship and circular design.
Vertical farms in subways: Taiwan is transforming unused metro stations into underground vertical farms. The vacant spaces are home to sustainable, clean, and organic food due to advanced and efficient vertical farming methods being harnessed to help feed commuters with fresh produce. Located at capital city Taipei’s Nanjing-Fushing Station, the 40 square-meter “Metro Fresh” hydroponic farm grows lettuce under LED lighting in a sterile environment to eliminate the use of pesticides and herbicides.
Soil batteries stored underground: An energy project in the UK plans to create “soil batteries” to store solar power underground. The design leverages the Earth’s teeming microbial life to transfer energy. Cardiff University is trying to solve the problem of renewable energy storage by developing new approaches to Redox Flow Batteries (RFBs) capable of storing large scale electrical power.
Flying electric ferry: Created by Artemis Technologies, the EF-24 passenger ferry will run entirely on electricity and produce zero emissions. The first ferry will be operated by Condor Ferries on a pilot scheme from Belfast to Bangor, Co Down. “The zero-emission ferry that will be seen departing Belfast in 2024, aptly named ‘Zero’, will be the first we build at our manufacturing hub in the city, but it is only the start,” said Iain Percy, founder, Artemis Technologies. With a top speed of 69 kilometers per hour and 50 passenger capacity, the vessels will “fly above the water” with underwater wings lifting up like a plane taking off. Raising the hull above water cuts drag, delivering estimated fuel cost savings of up to 85% compared to conventional diesel powered ferries.
The big comeback—wolves, bears, and bison: 50 species are making a comeback across Europe, according to a European Wildlife Comeback report. From loggerhead turtles and Eurasian otters to humpback whales, bison, and wolverines, many previously struggling species have made hopeful recoveries. Factors such as increased legal protection, the creation of corridors between protected areas, recovery of prey species, reintroductions, and a public that insists on protecting wild animals have contributed to this recovery.
Climate change loss and damage: Denmark became the first central government of a developed country to propose funding devoted to “loss and damage” – which refers to those ravages of climate related disasters so extreme that no protection against them is possible. In September, it became the first country to offer “loss and damage” compensation for those in the most climate vulnerable regions of the world.
Climate scores for bank bonds: The European Central Bank (ECB) said that it will give corporations climate scores before it buys their bonds; the ECG also intends to prioritize those doing more to reveal and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The companies’ scores would measure progress in reducing past emissions, plans to reduce them in the future, and completeness of reporting the amount of greenhouse gases they are emitting. The overall climate score combines how companies perform compared with their peers in a specific sector as well as compared with all eligible bond issuers; objectives set by issuers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in the future; and, the assessment of issuers’ reporting of greenhouse gas emissions.
Patagonia’s ultimate philanthropy: Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Yvon Chouinard, who founded the outdoor apparel brand almost 50 years ago, is transferring his family’s ownership to a charitable trust. The agreement, endorsed by his wife and two children, make the Earth the sole shareholder and beneficiary of any profits not reinvested back into the business. By transferring their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, around $100 million a year will be used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe.
Solar power helped the EU avoid billions in summer gas imports: Solar power accounted for 12.2% of the European Union’s electricity generated this summer – the highest share on record for the 27-country grouping. This power would have cost as much as €29 billion had it come from natural gas burning plants, according to analysts from energy think tank Ember.
Ads for climate-damaging meat: Billions of dollars are spent each year on food and beverage advertising in order to sway people’s food choices. In an effort to reduce the consumption of meat and the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions it produces, the Dutch city of Haarlem is placing a ban on meat advertisements in public spaces, in what is being hailed as a world first. The ban, which is set to begin in 2024, aims to reduce meat consumption and the impacts of the climate crisis. It will apply to meat that comes from large-scale industrial farming.
South African court revokes Shell’s oil and gas exploration rights: A South African court has prohibited Shell from offshore oil and gas exploration along the ecologically sensitive Wild Coast region in the Eastern Cape province, citing concerns over the seismic waves’ impact on marine life. The court decision has been hailed by campaigners as a “massive victory” for the planet. Activists took the matter to court, which ultimately ruled that Shell’s exploration rights were granted illegally by the government.
Here’s a shout out to euronews.green for their quite comprehensive list of positive climate actions in 2022.
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