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Good news you probably didn't hear about
The WHO just released new data on humanity's efforts to eliminate one of the world's leading causes of death for newborns, maternal and neonatal tetanus. It's quite a dataset. Between 2000 and 2020, 52 out of the WHO's 59 priority countries achieved elimination, global cases decreased by 88%, and deaths decreased by 92%, from 170,829 in 2000 to just 14,230 in 2019.
This is one of those stories that should be everywhere, but instead always ends up relegated to internet purgatory. In the past decade, a global network of organisations called the Clean Cooking Alliance has helped over 400 million people access clean cooking fuels and technology, saving an estimated 4.6 million lives from premature deaths linked to household air pollution.
Apparently that's not good enough for a headline from any single mainstream news organisation.
A new study in The Lancet has reported some unexpected benefits of COVID-19 restrictions, with 720,000 fewer cases of dengue recorded globally since April 2020. Restrictions on movement have provided researchers with new insights into the spread of the disease, especially in public places. "We found really unexpected benefits that are going to help us better fight dengue in the future." NYT
The feminist movement in Pakistan is gaining momentum, after the inaugural Women’s March in 2018 evolved into a sustained campaign. Collective action is shaking up the male-dominated social order in the Muslim-majority nation and rewriting narratives around gender-based violence, body politics, sexuality and consent. New Frame
South Africa has stepped up its protection for women and children, passing three new laws on gender-based violence. Under the new legislation, all sexual offenders will be listed on a national register and survivors will be able to access protection orders online. The new laws have also significantly expanded the definition of ‘domestic violence’. Global Citizen
Billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott had donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity, and $275 million to Planned Parenthood, the largest gift from a single donor in the organization's more than 100-year history. Since last June, Scott has donated more than $3.8 billion to 465 non-profit organizations. Reuters
The first same-sex couples have married in Chile, after a landmark law passed late last year came into effect. Chile's LGBT community campaigned for marriage equality for years, and the new law also paves the way for more same-sex couples to adopt and share parental legal rights and responsibilities. BBC
Black business ownership in America is 30% higher than pre-pandemic levels and women are driving most of that growth. In April 2020, the number of Black-owned businesses dropped by 41% but numbers rebounded as Black women took the lead, launching and pivoting businesses and banding together with local communities to keep their doors open. NPR
One of China’s biggest coal-producing regions, the Shaanxi Province, achieved national air quality standards for the first time in 2021, with a 14.3% reduction of PM2.5 from 2020. The region logged a total of 295.4 ‘good air quality’ days, 10.3 days more than the goal set by China after making a targeted effort to reduce coal consumption and penalise environmental offences. Xinhua
The Nigerian state of Zamfara is close to eliminating lead poisoning cases among children linked to hazardous gold mining in the region. In 2010, over 600 children died and hundreds were left with brain damage and physical disabilities. Thanks to screening programs, chelation therapy and safer mining practices however, there have been no child deaths from lead poisoning since October 2021. Guardian
Arnold Schwarzenegger has posted a 9 minute video appeal to the Russian people, warning them they are being fed misinformation about their country's assault on Ukraine. It's a masterpiece of storytelling, cutting through in a way no other politician or public figure has been able to. The video has been viewed more than 55 million times in Russia. BBC
The only home we've ever known *
Panama has enacted a Rights of Nature law as part of a growing global movement to give nature unique legal rights to fight ecological harm. It joins Bolivia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, and Mexico as countries that have also enacted similar legislation in the last few years. Inside Climate News
Oregon lawmakers just passed legislation to conserve 33,000 hectares of the Elliott State Forest for research, protecting it against logging and future threats. The site contains significant old-growth forest and supports 20% of the wild Oregon Coast coho salmon population. The assembly also allocated $7 million for the creation of wildlife crossing structures. Oregon Wild
Landmark legislation in Western Australia will end native logging and secure 400,000 hectares of one of the most diverse native forests on earth. Activists campaigned for 50 years to protect these forests, containing rare tingle, jarrah, karri, marri, tuart, and wandoo trees which have been radically depleted by logging since the 1800s. ABC
The Sentinel Landscapes Partnership will conserve 3.1 million hectares of forests, farms, and wildlife habitat around the Eglin Airforce Base in northwest Florida. The partnership is a unique collaboration between all levels of government, environmental groups, and landowners to advance sustainable practices around military installations. Defenders of Wildlife
A court in Montana has invalidated hundreds of oil and gas leases sold by the Trump administration, to protect the habitat of the iconic sage-grouse. After populations plummeted in recent decades, activists and government officials enacted a conservation plan in 2015. Although the plan was 'reinterpreted' by the last administration, these new measures will ensure the bird’s future protection. Earth Justice
The Biden administration has protected three million acres of critical habitat for the northern spotted owl, after striking down a Trump-era plan to open the area to logging. The owl’s population has been in serious decline for decades and with 70% of its habitat already lost, biologists feared further reduction would lead to extinction. Guardian
Sustainable fishing practices in Abu Dhabi have surged from 8.9 % in 2018 to 62.3% in 2021, putting the Emirates on track to recover 70% of stocks by 2030. A report in 2019 revealed the populations of over 200 species had rapidly declined due to unregulated fishing but authorities swung into action, establishing marine reserves, seasonal fishing bans and regulating minimum catch sizes. NUAE
China has extended fishing bans on the Yellow River, with a total fishing ban on the upper reaches of the river until the end of 2025. The previous three-month moratorium helped restore some of the river’s ecosystem and it’s hoped the extension will further enhance biodiversity conservation. SCMP
An indigenous community in the Brazilian Amazon have boosted the population of pirarucu, a giant freshwater fish, by 425% in 11 years. The Deni community regained control of their 1.5 million ha territory in 2003 and divided their lakes into the three categories: for community use, for managed pirarucu fishing, and lakes where no fishing is allowed. Climate Change News
A rewilding project in Argentina has returned jaguars to the Iberá wetlands for the first time in 70 years and the macaw for the first time since the 1800s. The project, founded in 1998, turns private land into national parks and has successfully reintroduced regionally extinct species like the pampas deer, giant anteaters, collared peccaries and coypus. Getaway
Belgium has officially ended its fur trade, closing all 17 remaining fur farms a year ahead of its 2023 deadline. The victory follows decades of work from animal rights organisations and reflects major shifts in consumer demand. Belgium joins Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Czech Republic, Italy, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Norway, Serbia, Slovenia, and the UK who have also ended the practice. PETA
The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation has allocated an additional $300 million toward its Andes-Amazon Initiative to fund conservation until 2031. In the past 20 years the initiative has conserved 400 million ha, 50% of its original plan, and is on track to reach 70%. Funding will go toward ensuring that 50 million ha of Indigenous and local community territories, and another 50 million ha of freshwater and forest ecosystems, are effectively managed. Mongabay
Saving the world is cheaper than ruining it
Will Russia's invasion of Ukraine accelerate Europe's energy transition? You bet. Here's a running tally from the past two weeks:
- The Netherlands will significantly ramp up the building of offshore wind farms in coming years, doubling the planned capacity by 2030.
- Austria has set the goal of completely converting its electricity generation to renewables by 2030, announced an additional €250 million in funding. "Each solar power plant brings us closer to energy independence"
- Germany has U-turned and will now support action to end sales of ICE vehicles within the next 13 years. "The new German government fully supports the end of the internal combustion engine by 2035." Clean Energy Wire
- Italy says it will cease using Russian gas by 2025, and has approved six new windfarms instead. The country's largest utility Enel, will exit its Russia operations in a “matter of months."
- France will end government subsidies for residential gas heaters and boost support for fossil fuel free heat pumps instead. France wants to end its imports of Russian gas and oil by 2027.
- The UK government says a massive expansion of wind farms is now needed as a matter of national security, rather than a way of fighting climate change. The country's offshore wind pipeline is now 86GW, a 60% increase in the past 12 months, and more than eight times current operational capacity.
- Belgium will extend the lifespan of its nuclear plants by another decade, and plans to spend €1.1 billion to finance its transition to climate neutrality. “This should strengthen our country’s independence from fossil fuels in a chaotic geopolitical context."
- The European Commission has doubled its objective for home-grown biomethane production to 35 billion cubic metres per year by 2030 as part of efforts to bolster the bloc against future energy crises.
- The EU will impose the world's first carbon dioxide emissions tariff on imports of steel, cement, fertilisers, aluminium and electricity from 2026.
Also, Europe has a fair bit of that good ol' freedom energy up and running already.
China's two main trade policy banks made no new overseas energy finance commitments in 2021 for the first time this century, a sign that Beijing's pledge to stop investing in foreign coal plants is already in effect. It means that 99% of global development financing is now committed to the clean energy transition. Reuters
Mumbai, India's financial centre and home to south Asia's biggest corporations, has announced detailed plans to reach net zero by 2050, with exhaustive changes to the way it manages energy, water, air, waste, green spaces and transport for its 19 million residents. This is two decades ahead of India's national goal and makes Mumbai the first city in South Asia to set a timeline. Straits Times
Just weeks after the EPA began enforcing strict new limits on HFCs, the agency has already blocked imports equal to the emissions from 1.2 million barrels of oil. The new limits will reduce domestic production and consumption of HFCs by 85% over the next 14 years and are expected to prevent up to 0.5°C of warming by 2100. Inside Climate News
The clean energy transition is going to require a LOT of wind turbines, and eventually, those turbine blades have to go somewhere. Good news then from General Electric, which just announced the successful production of its first 100% recyclable wind turbine blade. The 62 metre blade was made using a special resin that can be depolymerized and separate from the fiber, which can be reused again.
Another week, another insane announcement from China. This time, it's an 8,000 km2, 50GW offshore wind farm off the coast of Zhangzhou. A little bit of context: the entire wind energy capacity of the United States is around 120GW. So this is the equivalent of over 40% of all US wind... in a single project. 风电行业垂直门户网站
In Thailand’s northeastern province of Ubon Ratchathani, a reservoir has been transformed into a shimmering network of solar panels, the first of 15 floating 'hydro-solar' farms farms planned to be built over the next 15 years. Once completed, the farms will supply 30% of the country's annual power needs. Euro News
Standard Bank, Africa’s largest lender, has ruled out financing new coal plants or expanding existing coal plants, and will also stop providing financial support to companies that provide critical services to the coal sector, such as construction and operation contractors. News24
HSBC is phasing down its financing of the fossil fuel industry, sending a warning to its oil and gas clients as the bank works toward its target of net-zero emissions. That's a serious shift by one of the world's biggest remaining funders of oil and gas. Among European banks, only Barclays has assisted in underwriting more debt for fossil fuels since 2015. Bloomberg
MAPFRE, the largest non-life insurer in Latin America, just announced it will not cover or invest in fossil fuel companies that do not have a plan to keep temperature rise below 1.5C. This is a big one - clients include Pemex and Petrobras, Mexico and Brazil's state oil companies respectively, two of the biggest polluters in the world.
Swiss Re, the world's second largest reinsurer, just unveiled its new policy on oil and gas,. From July next year, it will no longer provide cover for companies responsible for the world's 10% most carbon-intensive fossil-fuel production. It will also stop reinsuring any new oil and gas projects that receive the go-ahead from parent companies after 2022. Market Watch
The EPA has reinstated California’s authority under the Clean Air Act to implement its own emission standards for cars and light trucks. This paves the way for both California and 15 other states to use more aggressive tailpipe emission and fuel economy standards.
France's car market is going electric way quicker than anyone predicted. Despite the overall market dropping off a cliff (down 31% compared to February 2020), the share of EVs continues to rise. 40% of all passenger cars sold in France last month had some form of electrification, more than the share of petrol at 38%, the leading fossil fuel powertrain. Clean Technica
Surprise, surprise, surprise. Volkswagen says its EV operations are going to be profitable a lot earlier than expected. Several electric models, including the Porsche Taycan, are already sold out for 2022 and consumer demand is only increasing. “We see better scale, we see better margins, we see high customer demand." CNBC
Oh, and check out the search interest in electric cars in the United States this month...
That's it for this fortnight. We'll see you in a few weeks!