12 min read

Good News, 2nd October 2021

Electric vehicles are coming WAY faster than you think. Plus, good news on coal funding from China, global cholera cases, access to electricity in Bangladesh, attitudes to race in the United States, wildlife crossings, and the largest philanthropic donation for conservation of all time.
Good News, 2nd October 2021

A fortnightly roundup of good news from around the world. This is the free edition. For the full experience, you can upgrade to the weekly premium edition, which also comes with mind-blowing science and the best bits of the internet. One third of the subscriber fee goes to charity.

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New Ireland has become the first province in Papua New Guinea to successfully reduce transmission of lymphatic filariasis, commonly known as elephantiasis - a remarkable achievement in a country where transmission rates are as high as 70%. “We are proud to be the first province in our country to achieve this historical milestone and come very close to getting rid of this terrible disease,” WHO

In May this year, Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health embarked on a first of its kind vaccination drive aimed at under-15s. In just ten days, they managed to vaccinate four million kids and teenagers against typhoid and cholera. The campaign has since been extended to reach six million, and the vaccine has been successfully added to Zimbabwe’s routine immunization schedule. WHO

Health authorities in Yemen have managed to control the explosive cholera outbreak that started in 2017, thanks to an unprecedented effort to get medicine and vaccines to those affected. Global cases of cholera plummeted by almost two thirds last year, thanks to a 68% decrease in cases in Yemen, and a 23% decrease from all other countries. WHO

A court in Jakarta has ruled that the Indonesian government has failed to protect citizens’ rights to clean air. The landmark decision requires the President and ministers to tighten national air quality standards to protect human health and the environment, and oversee efforts to cut pollution that directly affects air quality in Jakarta. The Independent

In one of the largest shifts of public opinion ever recorded, Gallup says that 94% of American adults now approve of interracial marriage, a huge leap from 4% when the poll began in 1958. People over the age of 50 experienced the biggest shift, increasing their approval by 64% in the past 30 years. Can't help but think of Max Planck's legendary quote:

A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

More than 97% of people in Bangladesh now have access to electricity, up from 62% in 2014. That's something like 60 million people who have gained access in the last seven years. Included in that number are around six million solar home systems, the largest off-grid network in the world. New Age

For the first time in Germany’s history, 85,000 people living with disabilities were eligible to vote in the recent election. The victory marks a turning point for disability rights and is thanks to new legislation that passed in 2019, after decades of lobbying from activists and NGOs. DW

People with disabilities are not a homogenous group and to bar some from voting is not only unfair, its unconstitutional. Without inclusion, there is no democracy.
Special ballots for blind people in Germany

Queensland will become the fifth Australian state to legalize voluntary assisted dying. The new laws, which have been 30 years in the making, will take effect from January 2023 and allow people over the age of 18 who meet the criteria to seek medical assistance to end their life. ABC

362,000 marijuana cases in New Jersey have been dismissed and 1,200 people released from probation as new drug laws take effect. New Jersey joins Illinois which has cleared 500,000 marijuana-related records, and California which has expunged 200,000. NJ

Switzerland will become the 30th country to legalize gay marriage, after 64.1% of the population voted in favour of reform. The victory comes after a long campaign by advocates, and a demand from the opposition government for the issue be decided by public referendum in 2020. BBC

The Philippine Senate has approved a bill to raise the minimum age of sexual consent from 12 to 16 years old, overturning a century-old law on statutory rape. It’s a historic win for child rights advocates who fought for this for years, and a huge step forward for a country with one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world. Benar News

This is as much a victory for our children as it is a victory for all advocates, civil society organizations, women’s rights groups, and concerned parents and individuals committed to protecting and defending every Filipino child ~ Senator Risa Hontiveros

Four brave women in South Africa have successfully overturned a set of apartheid-era marriage laws that denied women equal property rights. Thanks to Elizabeth Gumede, Thokozani Maphumulo, Matodzi Ramuhovhi and Agnes Sithole, around 400,000 elderly black women will now have equal access to matrimonial property. Berea Mail

In 2009, Mexico City became the first Mexican state out of 32 to legalize same-sex marriage. Eleven years later, that number has reached 23, after Sonora, a large northern state, approved a new law on Thursday - a day after the central state of Queretaro, long regarded as one of the most conservative in the country, approved similar legislation. VOA

The microstate of San Marino has ended a 150-year ban on abortion, making it one of the last countries in Europe to grant women full autonomy over their bodies. Total bans on the procedure remain in Malta, Andorra, and the Vatican, while Poland reintroduced restrictions earlier this year. CGTN

A landmark victory for LGBTQ+ rights, with a Taiwan court overturning a rule that required trans people to have surgery to remove their reproductive organs before they could be legally recognised in their correct gender. "Self-determined gender is a cornerstone of a person’s identity, and this ruling highlights the advancement of gender equality and human rights in Taiwan.” Pink News


Saving the world is cheaper than ruining it

Xi Jinping in a video recording at 75th session of the UN General Assembly, on Tuesday 22nd September 

Last week, Xi Jinping announced that China “will not finance or build new coal-fired power projects abroad." Difficult to overstate how important this is; in all the years we've been reporting on the clean energy transition, it's one of the biggest pieces of news we've ever shared. Beijing is by far the largest source of financing for coal plants globally, and the decision sends a clear signal to the rest of the world that the end of the fossil fuel era is now in sight. But of course, as a regular reader you knew that already :) DW

Decarbonization is a combination of big moments, like Xi's announcement, but also thousands of tiny little steps. Across millions of backyards in America, there's a quiet revolution taking place, as the roar and fumes of petrol-powered leaf blowers, mowers and trimmers is replaced by the silent hum of battery-powered ones. "My guys won’t even touch a gas hedge trimmer anymore." AP

Sri Lanka will cease building new coal-fired power plants, and has set a target of achieving 70% of all its energy requirements from renewable sources by 2030. "Our aim is to transition away from fossil fuels, promote decarbonization, and make Sri Lanka a carbon neutral country by 2050." Reuters

The Romanian government has committed to ending all coal power production by 2032, with the bulk gone by 2025. It's the 19th country in Europe to announce a coal phase-out, and if the experience of countries like Portugal and Greece tell us anything, it’s that once a commitment has been made, the actual exit comes far faster than first planned. Beyond Coal

Colombia has issued a new power plan that rules out building any new coal plants, and relies on major growth of solar, wind and hydro generation. The new plan effectively scuppers two proposed coal plants – the 465 MW Termobijao power station and the 1125 MW La Luna plant – which have been permitted but for which construction has not yet commenced. BNAmericas

Vattenfall, the biggest energy producer in the Nordic region, with 50% market share, just brought its net zero target forward by a decade to 2040. “The climate crisis is for real and not only do we have a responsibility to step up and move fast, we also see many opportunities in being a leader in this urgent transition." Reuters

Italy's biggest energy utility Enel, is accelerating the retirement of its coal fleet, bringing the end date forward from 2030 to 2027. It also plans to triple renewable energy generation from 49 GW today to 145 GW by 2030, and increase electric vehicle charging points from 186,000 to more than 4 million.

The US EPA has issued its first major regulation directly limiting greenhouse gases, requiring an 85% reduction of HFCs by 2036. This will eliminate the equivalent of 4.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, three years’ worth of emissions from the electricity sector. Fridge and air conditioning lobbyists, it seems, don't have quite the same clout as their Exxon counterparts. NYT

China has also agreed to limit emissions of HFCs, as the country begins enforcing its obligations under the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol, which took effect this month. Reuters

Remember Australia's mega wildfires of 2019/2020? Around 80% of the 715 million tons of carbon dioxide that was released has already been sucked out of the atmosphere by giant ocean algal blooms seeded by the nutrient-rich ash. Thanks Gaia. New Scientist

In the weeks since Harvard divested from fossil fuels, many others have followed, including Boston University, the University of Minnesota, and the MacArthur Foundation. Ten of the twenty richest colleges in America have now divested, the result of countless hours of work by activists helping to rob coal, gas and oil companies of their social license. The Crucial Years

Unless you’re a Canadian retiree, you’ve probably never heard of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec. It’s Canada’s second-biggest pension fund and the world’s twelfth biggest, and now it's divesting too - another $315 billion out of play for the fossil fuel industry. CBC

FirstRand, Africa’s biggest bank by market value, is ending its funding of new coal-fired power stations immediately and will halt the financing of any new projects to mine coal over the next five years. It's the second African bank to ban lending for new coal plants, after Nedbank, which made the decision earlier this year. Bloomberg

Ford, the company that brought humanity the production line, is spending $11.4 billion to build two new factories in Tennessee and Kentucky for batteries and electric pickup trucks. Together, they'll create over 11,000 jobs, and the Tennessee factory will be Ford’s largest ever — and its first new American vehicle-assembly plant in decades. Atlantic

The EV revolution is happening far quicker than anyone realises (except regular readers of this newsletter). In Germany, 21.7% of all cars produced in July were electric, compared with 6.8% in March 2020 and 3.2% in January 2019. Meanwhile, in China, 17.8% of all new cars sold in August were either electric or hybrids - up 180% year on year.


The only home we've ever known


Last week, the UN brought more than 20 world leaders together with representatives from indigenous communities and the private and philanthropic sectors, to ‘commit to momentous action for nature, climate, and people’. Nat Geo
Here are the highlights:

  1. The largest-ever philanthropic commitment for conservation. Nine organizations joined forces to launch the Protecting Our Planet Challenge, pledging $5 billion to conserve 30% of the planet by 2030 and support indigenous stewardship of native territories.
  2. The Finance for Biodiversity Pledge, 75 financial institutions worth a collective €12 trillion in assets, committed to protect and restore biodiversity through their activities, and reduce existing investments which are harmful to nature.
  3. Costa Rica announced it will ramp up its ocean protection from 2.5% to 30% and will also expand the area designated to the Cocos Islands National Park.
  4. Nigeria will establish 10 new national parks across the country and create new marine protected areas.
  5. Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia presented the ‘Amazon of Europe’, the world’s first five-nation biosphere reserve spanning 700km between the countries.

A partnership between five conservation groups in Kentucky has pulled off the largest dam removal in the state’s history. The Green River, one of the most bio-diverse river systems in America, will soon flow freely for the first time in 70 years. Good news for 150 fish species, over 70 species of mussel and 43 endemic species that call it home. BG

After decades of negotiations, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have finalized a $1.9 billion water rights settlement that resolves thousands of tribal claims to waterways throughout western Montana. The agreement also provides funding for habitat restoration and officially transfers control of the National Bison Range to First Nations. Grist

Some of Australia's most beautiful natural sites, including the Daintree, the oldest tropical rainforest in the world, have been returned to Aboriginal custodianship. After years of negotiations, four parks covering more than 160,000 hectares will now be co-managed by the Queensland government and the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people, and eventually transition to being run solely by First Nations people. ABC

A historic moment as elders and traditional owners receive the deeds.

A South-African-based conservation group has been gifted a $100 million philanthropic grant to help sustain some of the most biodiverse and threatened landscapes on the planet. The group manages 19 protected areas that cover 14.7 million hectares across Africa. Mongabay

Half a million acres of Scottish Highlands, stretching from Loch Ness to Kintail, and encompassing Glens Cannich, Affric, Moriston and Shiel, will be rewilded over the next 30 years thanks to a community led project known as the Affric Highlands. It will become Europe's tenth official rewilding area. Irish Tech News

From 2023, the sale of fruit and vegetables in plastic wrapping will be banned in supermarkets and grocery stores in Spain. The ban is one of a series of measures from the country's new Ministry for Ecological Transition, who are also planning alternatives to bottled water and single-use drinking cups at public events. El Pais

Big wins for animal rights in Hawaii with the passing of seven new laws. The intentional killing of sharks has been banned, along with the release of balloons that threaten marine life. Cosmetics that use animal testing are now prohibited and new laws have been passed to improve companion animal welfare and protect vets from liability for providing emergency treatments. World Animal Rights

The EU has voted to phase out the use of animals in laboratory experiments, calling for systemic changes to scientific research methods. Over eight million animals, including monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, and rats, will be saved from the invasive experiments Europe carries out each year. Totally Vegan Buzz

And finally... wildlife crossings!

From top left, in clockwise order: Canada, India, Netherlands, Belgium. Twitter

Meanwhile, back at the ranch


Do you know we have a podcast? It's called the DNA of Purpose, and it's hosted by our very own Rebecca Tapp. In the latest episode, she explores the role of positive leadership with Jean-Philippe Courtois, Microsoft's president of National Transformation Partnerships. This is a curious and smart conversation about the role of positivity and purpose in business, with one of Microsoft's most senior and experienced people, and one of the world's leading practitioners in this area. We know we're biased, but seriously, it's a great episode. DNA of Purpose

Another member of the FC family, Kaila Colbin, has done an excellent snapshot of the current state of play for lab grown meat, with some brand new data on its exponential cost decrease. The price of cultured meat has gone from $2.3 million per kilogram to just over $20 per kilogram (a 99.999% drop in price) in just seven years. Read it - you'll be amazed. Medium


On that, very encouraging note, we're wrapping things up. Thanks as always for reading, we'll see you in a fortnight.

Much love,

FC HQ

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