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Good news you probably didn't hear about
COVID vaccines prevented 19.8 million deaths during their first year of rollout, according to a new study in The Lancet. The research covered 185 countries and is the first major analysis since the first jab was administered in December 2020. India averted the most deaths at 4.2 million, followed by the US at 1.9 million and Brazil at just over a million.
Global efforts to fight malaria have yielded impressive results. An estimated 10.6 million malaria deaths and 1.7 billion cases were averted between 2000 to 2020. Twenty-six countries reported fewer than 100 cases in 2020, up from just six in 2000. Since 2015, nine countries have been certified as malaria-free. WHO
At the front of the pack is India, where malaria cases have fallen by an astonishing 86% since 2015 thanks to an increase in government resources and the tireless efforts of NGOs. Meanwhile trials of a new malaria vaccine in Burkina Faso have delivered 77% efficacy, exceeding the WHO target of 75%. At least 200 million doses will now be rolled out across another four African countries.
With a fair wind, the 2030s could see the reduction of malaria from a major killer … to a more localised minor cause of mortality.
Adrian Hill, Director of the Jenner Institute
The WHO says there has also been substantial progress in the fight against neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). 46 countries have now eliminated at least one NTD and between 2015 and 2019, more than a billion people were treated every year for one or more NTDs. In the period between 2010 to 2020, the number of people requiring an NTD intervention was reduced by 600 million.
Equatorial Guinea has successfully eliminated human African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness. Global public health efforts over the past decade have drastically reduced cases by 95% with Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Uganda recently eliminating the disease as well. WHO
Voters in Kazakhstan have overwhelmingly approved constitutional reforms for a 'New Kazakhstan' that will dismantle the super-presidential system that has reigned for three decades. Over half the voting population participated in the referendum and 77.17% backed the reform. DW
A step in the right direction for LGBTQI+ rights in Tokyo with local authorities recognising same-sex partnerships, making it easier for couples to access local services. While 100 municipalities in Japan now recognise same-sex partnerships, it's still the only G-7 nation yet to legalise same-sex marriage or civil unions. Bloomberg
Colombia has passed a landmark road safety law that will help prevent thousands of road crashes, the country’s second largest killer of people aged 10-45 years old. The new law will upgrade vehicle safety standards, infrastructure, speed limits and licensing to meet global recommendations. WHO
This crucial new law should help save thousands of lives. It is a major step forwards for Colombia in setting up the robust legislative framework that we need to ensure safe mobility for everyone, and establishing a proven, life-saving safe systems approach to road safety.
Gina Tambini, WHO-PAHO
Also, did you know that the rate of road deaths has been falling steadily in the OECD for the last few decades? All 38 member states have steadily reduced their rates of accidents and fatalities since the 1970s, except for one (no prizes for guessing who). OECD
The global fertility rate - the average number of children per women - has been steadily declining since the 1970s. The reasons? Women's empowerment in education and the workforce, lower child mortality and the increased cost of raising children. WEF
California has become the first state to provide undocumented residents over the age of 55 with state-subsidized food benefits. The assistance will feed around 75,000 people by 2025 and the pressure is now on to extend the benefits to younger people who are struggling with high rates of food insecurity. Fresno Bee
California has also become the first state to guarantee free health care for all low-income immigrants, regardless of legal status. The Medi-Cal coverage will protect around 700,000 undocumented Californians aged between 26-49 and could lead to the largest drop in the rate of uninsured Californians in a decade. Daily Kos
California is building a more universal, efficient, and equitable health care system for all who call California home. Health care is a human right, and our health system is stronger when everyone is included.
Jose Torres, Policy, and Legislative Advocate at Health Access California
In a landmark deal for gender equality, the EU has agreed to mandatory quotas to ensure women occupy at least 40% of seats on corporate boards by mid-2026. The directive applies to companies with at least 250 employees and fines may be issued for failure to comply. Euro News
Paid leave for parents is steadily improving. In the last decade 38 countries have increased the duration of their paid maternity leave, and 22 now guarantee at least 14 weeks. Reforms on leave for fathers have likewise gained popularity, with 37 countries introducing paid paternity leave since 2011. World Bank
Surgical abortions are no longer the norm in the United States. The majority (54%) are now done via medication - approved for up to ten weeks by the FDA, and often mailed to patients after an online or telehealth consultation. Politicians might want to police control over women’s bodies, but science and medicine have other ideas. Guttmacher Institute
Since 1980 at least 59 countries have expanded abortion access, and only 11 countries have restricted it. The US is now in some pretty illustrious company (see below). Elsewhere, progress continues. Israel just removed its requirement that women appear in front of a committee in order to receive an abortion, and Germany is moving to decriminalize a women's right to choose.
The only home we've ever known
Canada is banning the manufacturing and import of a number of single-use plastics including checkout bags, utensils, food-service products, ring carriers, stir sticks, and straws. The ban will save 15 billion bags per year, and prevent 16 million straws a day ending up in landfill. Sales will be prohibited from December 2023. WaPo
Landmark legislation in California will reduce single-use plastic by 25% over the next ten years. The ambitious law requires at least 30% of plastic items sold or bought in California are recyclable by 2028 and economic responsibility falls to producers. It’s the first state in the US to approve such sweeping restrictions. Guardian
54,000 acres of private ranch land in New Mexico will be added to the existing 4,000-acre Marquez Wildlife Management Area, making it the largest state-owned recreational property in the state. The land contains important cultural sites for tribal communities and critical habitat for black bears, migratory birds, and cougars. ABQ Journal
The Cofán community in the Ecuadorian Amazon have successfully saved 32,000 hectares of their ancestral land from 52 mining projects after winning a series of landmark cases. The community established Ecuador's first indigenous guard to defend their land in 2017 and the government must now consult them before greenlighting any proposals that threaten their way of life. Long Reads
One in five councils in the UK have now launched rewilding schemes or are planning to do so. Councils are among the largest landowners in the country, and their participation plays a significant role in the current push to rewild 5% of the land. Not bad for a movement that's only a few years old. Guardian
Argentina has pioneered a private to public rewilding model that has successfully restored over 800,000 hectares of damaged land and reintroduced multiple species. Since the 1990s the Tompkins Conservation foundation has been buying private land to restore ecosystems and then donating the protected areas back to federal and local governments. Guardian
The Kawawana conservation area in Senegal was created a decade ago by a group of Indigenous Jola fishers. Today, it's entirely governed, managed and maintained by local communities, who have succeeded in restoring an area where biodiversity had all but disappeared. There are now twice as many fish species, and the reserve has recently been expanded to 20,000 hectares. Mongabay
A ban on bullfighting in Mexico City has been extended indefinitely, signalling the end of the 500 year tradition in the country. Since 2013 the states of Sinaloa, Sonora, Guerrero, Coahuila and Quintana Roohave have all banned bull fights - this however, is the death knell for the 'sport.' ABC
The European Commission has tabled a new Nature Restoration Law to repair 80% of impacted habitats and restore all ecosystems, from forest and agricultural land to marine, freshwater, and urban areas by 2050. It’s the first-ever legislation to explicitly target the restoration of Europe’s nature.
In the past 35 years, farmers in Niger, the least developed country in the world, have added a staggering 200 million trees across 12 million acres of arid land without planting a single sapling. Local farmers let nature take the lead, allowing cut trees to regrow in their fields rather than clear them. As a result, soils in the area are more fertile and crop yields are up. Nat Geo
Since its establishment in 2001, the International Dark Sky Association has recognized more than 190 sites, protecting over 110,000 km² of dark places around the globe, including dark sky reserves, communities, islands and sanctuaries. As the benefits of dark skies become better known, many more rural areas are now seeking recognition. BBC
In one of the largest transfers made to First Nations people in the US, the state of New York has returned 1,000 acres of forest to Onondaga Nation. The transfer is the first time land has been returned to a New York tribe and is part of the decades-long clean-up of Onondaga Lake. Syracuse
Launched at last year’s G7 Leaders’ Summit, the Blue Planet Fund is already helping developing countries and coastal communities adapt to climate change. The £500 million fund has backed a wave of new projects aimed at bolstering the economies of small islands and developing nations as well as protecting ocean and coastline biodiversity. Industry Update
And in other good news - the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States just launched the world’s first global alliance to combat illegal, unregulated, and unregistered fishing, which threaten marine ecosystems, coastal communities, and global fish stocks. Global Fishing Watch
The American government has entered a historic agreement with five Native American tribes to co-manage Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. The agreement comes after decades of lobbying and marks the first time in the history of federal land management that the government will treat tribes as equals and experts. Outside Online
Saving the world is cheaper than ruining it
Japan is ending the financing of coal projects in Bangladesh and Indonesia. This is a critically important move. Almost all the new coal plants built across South and southeast Asia in the last decade have relied on massive capital subsidies from Japan, Korea and China. Great to see Japan finally implementing their no new coal financing pledge of 2020. Bloomberg
Sompo, one of the top three Japanese non-life insurers, has become the first Asian insurer to rule out insurance and investment in companies involved in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sompo has also committed to rule out underwriting and investment in coal companies without transition plans by 2025. Insure our Future
The Catholic Theological Society of America, the world's largest organization of theologians, just announced it's divesting its financial funds from fossil fuels, a move great in moral weight and one backers hope is rich with potential to inspire similar actions at its members' institutions. NCR
In 1990, China generated less than 1/600th of the renewable power of the United States. Fast forward to 2021, and it's rocketed past both the US and Europe, adding almost 290 terawatt-hours of renewable electricity generation in a single year. Japan and India aren't far behind now either, generating a combined 302 terawatt-hours. Bloomberg
China is also tightening its environmental regulations, with a new ban on new steel, coking, oil refining, cement, and glass projects in already polluted areas. The country is also aiming for electric vehicles to make up 50% of total sales by 2030 and is prioritising the development of biomass, geothermal or solar energy for heating. Reuters
The global pipeline of offshore wind has almost doubled in the past 12 months from 429 GW a year ago to 846 GW today. Absolutely staggering growth. China has the biggest pipeline at 98 GW, the UK is in second place at 91 GW (up from 55 GW a year ago) the US is third with 80GW, and Germany is fourth at 57 GW. Renewable UK
The total capacity of proposed renewable generation and storage projects in Australia has reached 150GW. Not all of this will be built - but most of it will, as the country's energy market operator is now saying that the switch to a renewables-based grid is 'complex, rapid and irreversible.'
Canadians looking to make their home more energy efficient and environmentally friendly can now get an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 from the federal government. Last month, the scheme opened to eligible people planning green upgrades to their property. C'mon Straya. Storeys
"The site is charged with controlling the flow of electricity to 18 million people in eastern and northern Germany. Today the screens show 28% of that flow coming from wind farms and 24% from solar panels. A decade ago the custodians of the grids which keep the rich world’s lights on would have told you this was impossible." Economist
Meanwhile, in Europe, "a long but good day for climate action" after environment ministers from 27 states struck a deal to approve a raft of measures to combat climate change in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It's particularly good news in the transport sector. DW
Staying in Europe, a new report looking at the cost of ownership of electric and diesel trucks has shown that electric trucks have already reached cost parity in six cities: Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, Warsaw, and Amsterdam. That's way ahead of predictions, and yet another example of how the energy crisis is speeding up decarbonization across the continent. RAP
In the United States, heavy duty transportation, one of the hardest sectors to decarbonize, suddenly looks like it's going to makes the transition towards zero emission vehicles in years, not decades. In the next few months, the country's fleet of HD ZEVs will increase 45 fold.
The notorious lentil-eating, greenie snowflakes at the Texas Department of Transportation are planning to add enough charging stations throughout the state to support a million EVs in the next five years, starting with the main transportation corridors, and then moving to rural areas. The plan is to have a charging station every 50 miles along most interstate routes. Tribune
Also, check out this quote:
"By 2040, every new passenger car sold in the world will be electric."
Who said it? You guessed it, renowned environmentalist, Darren Woods, CEO of Exxon Mobil. CNBC
Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer BYD is selling cars at such a furious pace it's become the second biggest carmaker in China. Sales have surged almost 350% to more than half a million during the first five months of 2022. We've said it before, we'll say it again. EVs are coming far quicker than even the most optimistic forecasts predicted. Asia Financial
Ferrari says three out of every five vehicles sold will be either electric or hybrid within the next four years, and 80% of it cars will be electrified by 2030. CEO Benedetto Vigna: "not only it is required by emissions regulations, but most importantly, we believe we can use the electric engine to enhance the performance of our cars." Forbes
Thanks for reading! We'll see you in a fortnight.