12 min read

Good News on Ebola, Electric Trucks and a 'Super Reserve' in the UK

Plus, terrorism, sleeping sickness, decarbonization in the G7, dragonscale solar, boreal forests, mammals in Europe, and the world's most magnificent green buildings in the world.
Good News on Ebola, Electric Trucks and a 'Super Reserve' in the UK
Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe discovered Ebola in 1976. Since then, from his post at the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research, he has led the global search for a cure.

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Ebola has been defeated. Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the Congolese doctor who first discovered the virus 40 years ago, says that the fight is now over, thanks to vaccines and effective clinical treatments. "For 40 years I have been a witness and a player in the fight against this terrifying and deadly disease and I can say today: it is defeated, it is preventable and curable." France24

Three African countries, Benin, Uganda, and Rwanda, have successfully eliminated trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) another big milestone for a global public health campaign that began in 2001. Togo and Côte d’Ivoire were the first countries to eliminate the disease in 2020. WHO

In the past three decades, suicides involving guns have steadily fallen around the world. Data from 204 countries shows that between 1990 and 2019, the global rate of firearm suicide decreased by an average of 2% per year. The reason? Stricter gun controls. Only one country is an outlier. New Scientist

A new study has revealed a surprising decline in teenage drinking around the world, especially in northern European and English-speaking countries. The trend started in the early 2000s and has continued steadily over the past two decades. Addiction

A big win for the LGBTQ community in Greece, after the country banned conversion therapy, adding itself to an ever-growing list of countries that have outlawed the practice. Meanwhile Canada has finally lifted its restrictions on gay men donating blood, and in the United Kingdom, the Church of Scotland will now allow clergy to conduct same-sex marriages in church.

The global impact of terrorism continues to decline. In 2021, deaths fell to 7,142, despite the overall number of attacks increasing, highlighting that terrorism is becoming less lethal. Mozambique had the largest drop, with deaths falling by 82%. Attacks the West also declined significantly, dropping by 68% in 2021. Relief Web

A watershed moment for Moroccan labour rights, with the government extending paid paternity leave from 3 to 15 days. The new measure is part of a 'social pact to improve working conditions for Morocco’s working class which includes an increase to the minimum wage and family allowances. Morocco World News

India's Supreme Court has ruled that the country's police should neither interfere nor take criminal action against consenting sex workers. It's a major win for the country's human rights campaigners, who have long argued that sex workers should be entitled to dignity and equal protection under the law. India Today

New South Wales has become the final state in Australia to introduce assisted dying laws. The legislation, which comes 20 years after the issue was first debated in state parliament, allows it for terminally ill people with a prognosis of six months, or 12 months for people with a neurodegenerative condition. SMH

Childcare in the US state of New Mexico is now free for those on low-incomes, with the government covering costs to help people get back to work after COVID. The initiative is funded by taxes on oil and gas and is the first in the country to cover a broad range of incomes, with families earning up to 400% of the federal poverty level eligible. WaPo

The US government has launched a $45 billion initiative to provide affordable, reliable high-speed internet to all Americans by the end of this decade. The program aims to eliminate the digital divide, focusing on the inclusion of communities of colour, rural communities, and older Americans. Department of Commerce

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, around 16 million people have been enfranchised into the Brazilian financial system. An astounding 85% of Brazilians now have access to financial services, marking one of the highest increases in the banked population in decades. WEF

A major breakthrough in humanity's efforts to improve food security, with China's development of a salt-tolerant rice variety dubbed as 'seawater rice.' The rice can be cultivated in salty soils near the sea, and by the end of this year, almost 70,000 hectares in seven provinces will be under cultivation. Global Times

Researchers from Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center apply fertilizer to rice seedlings in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province,

Saving the world is cheaper than ruining it


The IEA says renewables’ growth so far this year has been much faster than expected. China is leading the way as usual, but expansion is also accelerating in Europe, India and Latin America: global new solar capacity is currently on track to smash all records in 2022.

China tripled investments into solar power in the first four months of this year, putting the nation on track to install record amounts of new clean energy in 2022. Investment in solar was $4.3 billion from January through April, about 204% higher than in the same period a year earlier. Bloomberg

Major fossil fuel exit by BBRI, the largest public company in Indonesia, which serves 43% of the population. The bank's CEO has announced it will stop financing 'harmful' energy commodities such as coal and oil. "If the world wants to live another 1,000 years, it has to take 100 years of medicine." Bisnis

Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium just announced a plan to install a monstrous 150GW of offshore wind in the North Sea by 2050 - half of all the offshore wind necessary to get the EU to net zero. To put that in perspective, total installed capacity worldwide at the moment is 25GW. Wild. Business Green

Renewables aren't immune to supply chain gyrations, but compared to fossil fuels, there's just no comparison. Even before the war in Ukraine, coal and gas in the EU was a lot more expensive than solar, but now it's getting ridiculous. Transition Zero

No surprise then, that Europe is putting its shoulder hard to the wheel. The European Commission just unveiled a €300 billion plan to become independent of Russian energy imports by 2030. It includes a provision to make solar panels mandatory on all buildings. "We must now reduce as rapidly as possible our reliance on Russia in energy. We can." Independent

Vietnam is planning an aggressive switch from coal, to wind and solar to decarbonize its power sector and meet rising demand. Its new national power plan says no new coal-fired power plants will be built from now on, and aims instead for a 50.7% share of the generation stack for wind and solar by 2045. IHS Markit

Texas burns more coal than any other state in the United States. However, no other state has as much renewable energy either, and there's now enough wind and solar in the pipeline to almost completely replace all of the state’s coal generation. The big bottleneck isn't projects any more, it's transmission lines. PV Magazine

California's Senate just passed the California Fossil Fuel Divestment Act, which would require CalPERS and CalSTRS, the two largest public pension funds in the US, to divest from fossil fuels. “This is a great step in the right direction. State pension funds should be invested in the future of the state, not in a dark and deadly fossil fuel past." Fossil Free California

One of the most undertold stories in all of energy is how Kenya is rapidly decarbonizing thanks to geothermal. The country just hit a new peak for electricity demand - and the largest share, around 40%, came from geothermal power plants. The next biggest power source? Hydropower. Kengen

Officials from the G7 wealthy nations just announced they will aim for 'predominantly decarbonized power sectors by 2035.' That's a big step up, especially for Japan. 12 months ago, the same meeting ended with the aim of 'overwhelmingly decarbonized power sectors by the 2030s'. DW

The Netherlands will ban gas boilers and make hybrid heat pumps the standard for heating homes from 2026. The government has increased the subsidy for the purchase of heat pumps to an average of 30% from this year. The United Kingdom is also planning to ban gas boilers in new homes after 2025. Energy Live News

The 50,000 photovoltaic panels topping Google's new 100,000 m² office in California are made from printable, flexible 'dragonscale solar skin' with a textured glass coating that traps additional light, generating roughly 40% percent of the building’s energy needs. Straight up sci-fi, check out these photos. Gizmodo

Volvo will be the world's first truck maker to use fossil-free steel. The steel is produced by the Swedish steel company SSAB using hydrogen, and will initially be used in the trucks' frame rails and vehicle backbones where other components are mounted. Production will begin in the third quarter of 2022. Greenbiz

In China, the world's biggest car market, EV sales are rocketing. In the first four months of 2022, the number of plugin vehicles more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.49 million. Clean energy vehicles accounted for 23% of China's passenger car market, whole overall vehicle sales fell 12%, reflecting a steep decline in demand for gasoline cars. Reuters

In the United States, the world's second largest car market, an electric car is now cheaper on a monthly basis than a comparable gasoline car in almost every state (once financing, taxes, maintenance and fuel costs are included). Bloomberg

A new analysis of trucking in California and New York has shown that 65% of medium-duty trucks and 49% of heavy-duty trucks are driving short enough routes that they could be replaced with electric models that are on the market right now. RMI

Electric vehicles of all types are already displacing about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day worldwide. Most of that is from electric two and three-wheelers and electric buses in China. Thanks to all those batteries, 3.4% of global transport oil demand is now gone. Bloomberg

Source: Bloomberg NEF, IEA

The only home we've ever known *


Last month, the Global Environment Facility announced a record round of new funding of $5.25 billion, covering the next four years. This represents a 30% increase over the previous funding period for one of the world’s largest and most influential environmental grantmakers.

A new 'super reserve' in the UK will knit together six protected sites spanning 15,000 acres of wetland in Somerset. The project is designed to boost populations of the avocet, marsh harrier, skylark, and hairy dragonfly. The announcement coincides with the 70th anniversary of England’s first six national reserves, which have since increased in number to 219.

California has a new park for the first time in 13 years. Once used as dairy pastures and almond orchards, Dos Rios Ranch is a 2,100-acre riverfront property and will provide restored habitats for endangered animals like the sandhill crane, riparian brush rabbit and Chinook salmon. It's California's 280th state park. SF Gate

If this isn’t a story of hope, we don’t know what is. A 45-acre junkyard of rusting cars and thousands of barrels of toxic chemicals has been added to Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Over the past 16 years, the site has been transformed into a wetland teeming with birds and plants thanks to one of the National Park Service's most extensive and expensive rehabilitation projects. Nat Geo

If someone is interested in habitat restoration, there’s no better place. This was a toxic wasteland only a few decades ago. To find this diversity of species there today is remarkable.”
Chris Davis, Ecologist for Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Above, a 1985 photo showing the Krejci dump. Below, what was once a toxic junkyard has been rehabilitated and reopened as part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio.

Here’s a twist … London’s new Elizabeth underground line will benefit birds as well as commuters. A sanctuary has been created out of the 3.5 million tonnes of earth dug up during construction. The Jubilee Marsh spans over 160 ha and tens of thousands of migratory birds have already taken up residence including avocets, spoonbills, black-tailed godwits, and little egrets. Guardian

Europe removed a record-breaking 239 dams in 2021. With wind and solar outcompeting hydroelectricity, more dams are likely to be made redundant, and a key element of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy is to restore at least 25,000km of rivers to a free-flowing state by 2030. Dam Removal EU

A big milestone for the greater one-horned rhino, with the population in Assam, India reaching 4,014, an increase of 274 since last count thanks to a baby boom during the pandemic. This is an incredible recovery for a species that once numbered fewer than 100 individuals. Rhinos.org

Meanwhile, conservationists in South Africa have translocated four young black rhinos to the Bonamanzi Game Reserve to help preserve population genetics. Black rhino populations fell to just 2,400 in the early 90s due to poaching but protection measures have helped boost populations to around 5,600 today. Mongabay

12 years of conservation efforts in Bangladesh have helped halt the decline in vulture populations. Populations fell by 95% last decade and the red-headed species was declared locally extinct. However since 2015 numbers have remained stable thanks to a ban on harmful veterinary drugs and the creation of “vulture safe zones” across the country. Mongabay

The vulture has also inspired a communally managed forest project, Nuevo Bécal, Mexico. Encouraged by the positive results of a king vulture sanctuary established in 2012, the Ejidatarios people have conserved a further 2,284 ha of their territory, making it the largest voluntary conservation project in Mexico. Mongabay

The largest private conservation project in Canada has just been unveiled - 1,450 km2 of boreal forest in northern Ontario. The protected land is more than twice the size of Toronto, and home to more than 100 lakes and 1,300 kilometres of rivers, streams, and shorelines, including habitat vital to freshwater quality and native fish species. Weather Network

Located in Northern Ontario, the Boreal Wildlands provide vital habitat for many plants and animals like bears, beavers, moose, wolves, lynx, threatened boreal caribou, and countless species of birds.

In the last five years, a restoration project in Brazil has recovered 5,000 ha of forest cover in a watershed serving São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with plans to reforest another 1.5 million ha by 2030. The program was inspired by a smaller conservation project in Extrema, which has planted more than 2 million native trees since 2005. Mongabay

Some of the world’s biggest mining companies, including Rio Tinto, Anglo American and Vale, have withdrawn requests to extract minerals on Indigenous lands in the Amazon, despite efforts by Jair Bolsonaro. Brazil’s Constitution states mining can only take place on Indigenous lands with consent. AP

America’s waning appetite for meat has resulted in a 35% decrease in greenhouse emissions. New research has found daily beef consumption plummeted by an average 40% per person between 2003 and 2018, and there’s also been steady shift away from dairy, eggs, chicken, and pork. Anthropocene

26 years after San Francisco pioneered city-wide composting, it’s now collecting over 500 tonnes of compost from green bins every day, diverting 80% of the city’s waste from landfill and turning it into high-quality compost in 60 days. Inspired by the city’s success, California will enact state-wide composting to reduce landfilling of compostable materials by 75% by 2025. RTBC

Europe’s conservation projects are paying off, with a dramatic increase in mammal populations facing extinction 50 years ago. Compared to 1960, there are 30 times the number of bison, twice as many bears, three times more elk and five times the population of deer. The most remarkable recovery however, is beaver populations, which have increased by an estimated 140-fold. OWD

The most magnificent green buildings around the world. Some proper eye candy here - including this incredible winery in Georgia. Euronews

Shilda winery in Kakheti, Georgia. 

That's all for this fortnight, hope you enjoyed this edition.

It's pretty heavy going out there right now. We hope you're managing to navigate the headlines without falling into despair. If you are feeling overwhelmed, try to remember that the news doesn't tell you what's happening in the world, it tells you what's rare. There's always more good than bad, even if the cameras don't point in that direction.

Hang in. We'll see you soon.

Much love,

FC HQ

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