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16th April 2022 - 16th May 2022
In 2020, India approved Pneumosil, a vaccine for pneumococcal disease. It's a been a huge success story, produced in India, by an Indian company, and now being distributed globally to other low- and middle-income countries for S$2 per dose. Gavi, the international vaccine alliance, estimates it will prevent the deaths of around 50,000 Indian children each year.
Over one million children in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi have now received one or more doses of the world’s first malaria vaccine. The rollout began as a pilot program in Malawi in 2019 and once widely deployed, could save the lives of up to an additional 80 000 children each year. WHO
Remember COVID-19? We’ve come a long way… as of the 15th May 2022, we're down to 0.23 deaths per 1 million people worldwide, a level last reached on March 25, 2020. Although new variants are increasing the number of cases, the extraordinary global vaccination efforts is helping reduce hospitalisations as well as fatalities. OWD
Nearly half a million Kenyans were lifted out of extreme poverty last year as the country bounced back from the pandemic. The World Bank says the number of people living on less than $1.90 a day fell from 19.2 million or 35.7% of the population in 2020, to 18.8 million or 34.3% in 2021, and will fall further to 18.7 million by the end of 2022. Business Daily Africa
Vietnam has made significant progress on poverty in the last decade. The poverty rate fell from 16.8% to 5% between 2010 and 2020, lifting over 10 million people out of poverty. Although progress was stalled during the pandemic, it did not reverse, and the poverty rate is now falling again. World Bank
Bangladesh and Canada have both recorded declines in poverty in the past two years. Poverty in Bangladesh decreased from 12.5% in 2020 to 11.9% in 2021, making the country a role model for poverty reduction in the developing world. Meanwhile 1.4 million people in Canada were lifted out of poverty in 2020 thanks to substantial government supports during the pandemic.
The reduction in motor vehicle deaths in the United States is one of the country's most substantial public health acheivements. In 2000, car accidents were responsible for 13,049 deaths among young people (13.62 per 100,000 persons). Twenty years later, there has been a nearly 40% decrease, with 8,234 deaths (8.31 per 100,000 persons) recorded in 2020. NEJM
A new global study on type 2 diabetes has shown disease management and education programs and are working, with a decline in death rates across 16 high-income countries. "There is still a long way to go to control the many risks, but these findings provide promising evidence that we are moving in the right direction." Medical Xpress
The fight against diabetes continues in Mexico, where the implementation of a soda tax has helped decrease consumption of soft drinks. Diabetes used to be the country's leading cause of death between 2000-2006, but a group of advocates and politicians challenged the industry and passed a federal soda tax there in 2013. Fewer Mexicans are drinking soda as a result. Civil Eats
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, with estimates showing that 43% of the population will receive a diagnosis in their lifetime. Good news then - even though overall numbers are up, due to an ageing population - the age related mortality rate has dropped to its lowest level ever recorded. CMAJ
A huge victory for LGBTQI+ rights in South Korea with a landmark judgement reversing the conviction of two soldiers who were jailed for consensual same-sex sexual acts while off duty. The military has a long history of violating same-sex rights and the ruling will hopefully pave the way for military personnel to live and love without the threat of prosecution. Amnesty
New Mexico recently established the most extensive tuition-free scholarship program in the US, and Maine has proposed making two years of community college free for high school graduates. This would bring the total number of states with free-college programs to 30, i.e 60% of all US states would have free tuition opportunities. CNBC
Spain is finalizing a draft law that guarantees the right to abortion, and scraps a requirement for 16 and 17-year-olds to obtain parental consent for the procedure. The new government is also introducing up to five days of medical leave for women suffering from severe period pain, and has made it a criminal offence for anyone to harass women attending clinics to voluntarily terminate pregnancies.
Since 1994, 59 countries around the world have expanded the rights of women to choose what to do with their bodies. Only four countries, Poland, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and the United States, have tightened abortion laws during that period. The moral arc of history does bend towards progress - even if it's not always a straight line. NYT
Allianz, one of the world’s biggest oil and gas insurers, just committed to stop insuring and investing in new oil and gas fields, new oil power plants, projects in the Arctic, and new midstream oil infrastructure as of January 2023, and will not renew existing contracts as of July 1, 2023. In case it wasn't obvious, this is a really big one. Insure Our Future
BlackRock, the world's largest private equity firm, and still the largest investor in coal developers, is now projecting that by 2030, three quarters of the investments in its portfolio will be tied to a requirement to cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, up from 25% currently. Reuters
Quebec has become the first jurisdiction in the world to explicitly ban oil and gas development in its territory, following decades of environmental and grassroots campaigning. It's a pretty radical move - Canada is among the top five oil producers worldwide; the new law ends all petroleum exploration and production as well as the public financing of those activities in Quebec. National Observer
96% of all new electricity capacity added in the US in the first two months of this year was either wind or solar, and in April 2022 the country reached a major milestone, with wind and solar accounting for 20% of all electricity production. Ember
The change is being predominantly driven by a wind boom across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. "I love the sound of wind turbines in the morning - it's the sound of money." And California just set an extraordinary new record: on the 30th April, 99.87% of the state's electricity load was served by renewables. Desert Sun
The US Bureau of Land Management is planning 39 utility scale solar projects totalling 29GW of capacity on federal lands within the next three years. That’s China-scale stuff, more than twice France’s entire installed solar capacity, and five times larger than the record-breaking US wind power auction held earlier this year. Recharge News
After years of dithering, American utilities are finally getting with the program. In the next two years they will spend $280 billion on upgrading the country's ageing grids. It's the largest overhaul of energy infrastructure since the 1970s, and will make the transition to renewable energy possible, and prepare the influx of electric vehicles. WSJ
Just in time too. The pipeline of solar, wind, and storage projects in interconnection queues across the United States has soared to a record 1,300GW. “The sheer volume of clean energy capacity in the queues is remarkable.” By contrast, there's only 75GW of fossil gas is in the queue, and less than 1GW of coal. Berkeley Lab
Hello energy transition!
According to Bloomberg, China is on track to install 140GW of wind and solar power this year. That's more than the entire world installed in 2020. Oh, and and IRENA just reported that in 2021, 81% of all new energy generation capacity added around the world was renewable - 88% of that from wind and solar.
China's momentous 2021 pledge to end support for new overseas coal power plants has led to 15 projects being shelved or cancelled, with another 32 on the chopping block. Meanwhile, Inner Mongolia, the country's second largest coal-producing region, is planning to add 135GW of renewables by 2025 in an effort to meet Beijing’s goal of peak emissions by 2030. Bloomberg
The Chinese Academy of Engineering has joined a chorus of researchers who think the country will hit peak emissions before 2030. The state-linked think tank is is projecting that emissions will top out in 2027, and that more than 80% of China's power will come from non-fossil fuel sources by around 2045. Bloomberg
How's this for a sign of the times. More than a decade after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima rendered large swaths of farmland unusable, some of those fields are now home to sprawling solar arrays. Around 40% of the prefecture's power now comes from renewables, with plans underway to spend $2.75 billion to get to 100% by 2040. France24
Carbon dioxide removal has been on the fringe for years, but in the last few weeks, almost $2 billion of funding and government has been announced, indicating the start of a new era.
- Climeworks has raised $600 million in the biggest carbon removal startup deal ever.
- Stripe, Alphabet, Meta, Shopify, and McKinsey have teamed up to launch Frontier Climate and catalyze the carbon removals market with nearly $1 billion of advanced commitments.
- Lowercarbon Capital has pulled the wraps off a $350 million in new CDR-exclusive venture fund.
- The US Department of Energy is investing $14 million in pilot projects to scale up direct air capture and storage technologies.
We've been saying this for a while - wait until the Germans get going on electric vehicles. Mercedes is now taking the fight to Tesla with their EQXX prototype, which has a 1,000 km range, well above the range of any petrol or diesel-powered vehicle, and 40% more energy efficient than a Tesla Model 3.
The 2022 Our Ocean Conference has just finished, and secured 410 new commitments worth over $16 billion for improving the health, productivity and protection of the world’s oceans. This includes $700 million to protect the Great Barrier Reef. To date, the event has protected at least 13 million km2 of ocean. Mongabay
The Biden administration has just signed an executive order strengthening the protection of the country’s old-growth forests, conservation organizations in Maine say they now have more than 20,000 acres under management, and a remote wilderness in Michigan is expanding after been gifted 1,300 acres of neighbouring property.
After a monumental effort to rid Lord Howe of an estimated 210,000 rats, the island’s ecosystem is thriving. “What is unfolding is an ecological renaissance, since the rodents have gone, the catchphrase is: ‘I’ve never seen that before’.” Among the animals bouncing back is one of Australia’s rarest birds, the flightless Woodhen, whose population has doubled to 565 in the past three years. SMH
Greyhound racing is essentially dead in the United States. By the end of this year, there will only be two tracks left in the country. To put this in perspective - in the 1980s there were more than 50 tracks, but concerns about how dogs were treated have now nearly eliminated a sport that gained widespread appeal a century ago. Nat Geo
The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund is adding an additional 796 km2 to its community led conservation programs in the DRC, in an effort to repeat its success with mountain gorillas for lowland dwelling Grauer gorillas. The move means that 2,379 km2 are now being watched over by about 20 families. AP
Construction has begun on the world’s largest wildlife crossing for animals caught in Southern California’s urban sprawl. The bridge will stretch 61 meters over the US 101, giving big cats, coyotes, deer and other wildlife a safe path to the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. “This crossing could not have come at a better time. It is truly a game changer.” AP
The NOAA has designated a large swathe of Alaskan coastline, roughly the size of Texas, as critical habitat for nayiit and makliit (ringed and bearded seals). It’s a preventative measure to protect populations in the wake of melting sea ice. and new restrictions on oil missions, commercial fishing, and federal military activities have also been enforced. Kyuk
The Magpie River in Quebec has been granted legal personhood as the ‘rights of nature movement’ gains global momentum. The rights were advocated by the Innu First Nation people to combat the impact of dams, and include the right to flow, maintain biodiversity, be pollution-free, and to sue. Many of the world’s rivers have now been granted legal rights, most notably the Amazon in 2018. Nat Geo
We need to see that as humans we are not above the water or the animals. We are part of a whole. When we heal the earth, we heal ourselves, too.
Uapukun Mestokosho, a member of the Mutehekau Shipu Alliance
California’s coastal kelp forests are making a comeback, with the area of several sites now increasing. The forests had receded by more than 95% due to global warming and an explosion in purple sea urchins that local conservatists removed by hand. Kelp forests play a crucial role as carbon sinks, sequestering three to five times more carbon than similar size tropical forests. Discovery
A rewilding project in Dorset is close to establishing a breeding population of ospreys in the British Isles for the first time since the Middle Ages. The project began in 2017 with the transfer of six week-old chicks from Scotland and recently a male and female returned safely from their migration to Africa. Conservationists have their fingers crossed for the pitter-patter of osprey claws. BBC
Researchers in Greece are experimenting with farming metal from shrubs. The plants, known as 'hyperaccumulators' thrive in toxic metal-rich soils by drawing the metal out of the ground and storing it in their leaves and stems. As well as providing a source for rare metals like nickel, zinc, aluminium and even gold, these plants sequester carbon in their roots, regenerating the soil for other crops. Guardian
Humans have sought out deposits of rare metals for thousands of years and developed ever-more violent ways of accessing them, but these plants have found more equitable and regenerative ways of doing much the same thing. Perhaps we have something to learn from them.
James Bridle, Author of Ways of Being: Beyond Human Intelligence
27th March 2022 - 15th April 2022
Two amazing vaccine stories to kick things off. Nepal has introduced the typhoid vaccine into its routine immunisation programme, aiming to reach 95% of the country's 7.5 million children. And in Bangladesh, a three day COVID-19 vaccination campaign reached a staggering 12 million people, bringing the proportion of the vaccinated population to 72%.
Drones in Rwanda have made over 265,000 commercial deliveries of medical supplies, and account for three quarters of blood donations delivered outside Kigali. The blood arrives an average of 90 minutes earlier than by road, and there's been a 67% decrease in blood product expiration after the drone delivery programme was put in place. The Lancet
A new report from the UK's Health Security Agency shows there has been considerable progress towards eliminating hepatitis C as a public health problem in England. The prevalence of chronic hepatitis C declined to around 81,000 in 2020 (compared to 129,000 in 2015) – a 37% fall amongst the general population. UKHSA
The US Centre for Disease Control and Detection has released new data showing that cancer, the country's second leading cause of mortality, has seen historic drops in death rates in the last two decades. Between 2001 to 2020, cancer death rates fell by 27%, from 196.5 deaths per 100,000 people, to to 144.1 per 100,000. "The goal is now to turn cancer into a chronic disease rather than a fatal one."
Remember how someone once proposed building a wall to divide Texas and Mexico? Well thanks to a grassroots collaboration between the border towns of Laredo and Nuevo Laredo, a binational river park will be created instead. The joint restoration project will span approximately 10 km and focus on the conservation of the Rio Grande River. Dezeen
Over 460 acres of ancestral land has been returned to the Rappahannock Tribe at Fornes Cliffs in Virginia. The land is also home to one of the largest nesting populations of bald eagles on the Atlantic coast and the tribe plan to create a replica 16th-century village to educate visitors about their history, and train tribal youth in traditional river knowledge. Smithsonian
One of Massachusetts' oldest prisons is shutting down, thanks to reduced incarceration rates and high maintenance costs.The prison is operating at only 68% capacity, because the state now has the lowest proportion of people in jail in 35 years. WBUR
The fruit of that work — the lowest level of incarceration in decades — was achieved by providing at-risk individuals with pathways to positive life choices, creating new re-entry services, and empowering returning citizens to rebuild their lives in meaningful ways.
Terrence Reidy, Public Safety and Security Secretary, Massachussets
Six years after deliberations first began, Indonesia has passed a landmark bill to tackle sexual violence, providing a legal framework for victims to seek justice. A majority of lawmakers backed the bill in parliament, successfully overcoming conservative opposition in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country. "This is surely a step forward." Al Jazeera
The number of women dying during pregnancy or in childbirth across India continues to fall. Government figures published last month revealed that the maternal mortality rate dropped from 122 per 100,000 births in 2015, to 103 per 100,000 in 2019. Experts say India is now on track to hit the UN’s target of less than 70 deaths per 100,000 births by 2030. Telegraph
According to the IMF, India has almost eradicated extreme poverty and brought down consumption inequality to its lowest levels in 40 years. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty is now less than 1%, and has remained steady even during the pandemic on the back of 'in-kind' subsidies, especially food rations. Hindustan Times
Following Iceland’s success, 60 organisations in the United Kingdom have signed up for the world’s biggest four-day week trial. Starting in June, the trial will measure the impact of reduced hours on productivity, environment, and gender equality. 3,000 workers will take part, working one day less for their usual pay. Euro News
An international fundraising event in Warsaw last Saturday managed to raise over $10 billion from governments, companies and foundations for humanitarian efforts in Ukraine, completely filling the UN Refugee Agency’s funding gap. That makes it the most successful charity event in human history. Global Citizen
Check out this analysis from Kingsmill Bond, an energy strategist, who predicts that Putin’s aggression will drive a faster shift to clean energy, catalyzing market conditions and political appetite for renewables to displace fossil fuels. Canary
In more 'Vladimir Putin, Strategic Genius' news, both Japan and the European Union have announced they will be phasing out their imports of Russian coal. That will affect more than a quarter of all Russian coal exports, amounting to around €8 billion loss of revenue per year for Russia.
Russia's ambitions in the Arctic are dead in the water too. Novatek and Gazprom, the country's two biggest fossil gas companies, are fully dependent on western technology, and the latest round of sanctions from the EU have effectively crippled their Arctic operations. With the halt in LNG projects, Russia will not be able to achieve its dreams of a Northern Sea Route either. Barent Observer
Germany's new government just released its 'Easter Agreement,' the most ambitious clean energy target among all industrialised nations. It's the country's biggest energy reform in decades, a new policy that frees up land for clean energy production, speeds up permit procedures, and aims to achieve a 100% renewable power supply by 2035. Deutsche Welle
Portugal is accelerating its energy transition, with a new goal to increase the share of renewables in electricity production to 80% by 2026, four years earlier than previously planned. "Portugal has already taken very significant measures in the energy transition, but the evolution and duration of the war in Ukraine must necessarily imply new measures.” PV Tech
Up to 75% of the electricity flowing into the Irish grid can now come from variable renewable sources. It's the first national power system in the world to reach this level, overcoming 'major technical challenges' to succesfully integrate electricity from wind farms, solar farms and interconnectors linking it with other countries. ReNews
Buoyed by a surge in investment and new projects, wind power has become Spain's main source of electricity generation, and just in time, as Europe seeks to curb its energy imports from Russia. The country now plans to become the 'energy breadbasket' of Europe, aiming to generate 74% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. TechXplore
The Philippines is massively ramping up its solar capacity, with planned projects growing 10-fold in the last year. As of March 2022, the country has 13 GW of solar in the pipeline, up from a paltry 1.3 GW in March 2021, with wind power also growing substantially. PV Tech
Taiwan is planning a massive clean energy spending spree, in an effort to accelerate its energy transition. Government and state-owned companies will spend about $32 billion between 2022 and 2030 on renewable technologies, grid infrastructure and energy storage. Bloomberg
Good news: 83% of all new power capacity added in the United States in 2021 was renewable, while fossil gas additions were down 50% compared to 2019. The US also set a major renewable energy milestone earlier this month: wind power was the country's second-highest source of electricity, edging out nuclear and coal for the first time since the EIA began gathering the data. CNN
Maryland has become the latest US state to mandate an end to carbon emissions on a net basis economy-wide by the middle of the century. The package, which includes substantial environmental-justice provisions, has instantly become one of the country’s most aggressive climate change laws. Canary
Japan's three largest banks, amongst the largest remaining financiers of coal in the world, have announced they will stop financing new thermal coal mining. The three institutions are thought to have billions of dollars in outstanding loans to the coal mining industry, a tally expected to decline gradually with the end of new financing. Nikkei
Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, one of the largest private domestic banks in the Philippines, says it will stop providing financial support for existing coal plants by 2031. In December 2020, it became the first Philippines bank to announce it would no longer provide financial support for new coal power projects. Business Mirror
Consumers in the United Kingdom bought more electric cars in March 2021 than in whole of 2019, despite the overall car market being down by 14% year on year. “At the current rate, sales of new electric vehicles will overtake both traditional petrol and diesel sales by 2025." Guardian
Canada just joined the ranks of countries and states planning to ban sales of combustion engine cars, requiring all new passenger car sales to be zero-emissions by 2035. The government will gradually ramp up pressure on automakers, requiring at least 20% zero-emissions sales by 2026 and 60% by 2030. Engadget
A picture from the future: over 90% of vehicles sold in Norway last month were electric. Yes, it's a small country, yes incentives, but this shows what's possible, and how the switch is likely to happen sooner than many expect. What's particularly encouraging is seeing how EVs are starting to eat into overall distance travelled by all cars. Clean Technica
The world is about to pass another important milestone in electric vehicle adoption. Bloomberg is estimating that 20 million plug-in vehicles will be on the road globally by June 2022. That’s remarkable growth from only one million in 2016, and way, way faster than anyone (including BNEF) predicted even a year ago.
Australia has just created a 744,000 km2 marine park around Christmas Island and the Cocos-Keeling atoll, south of Indonesia. Bigger than Texas, and over twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef marine park, it joins a network of 60 others around the country, spanning more than four million km2 — a staggering 45% of Australia's waters. ABC
Australia is expanding its Indigenous Rangers Program, which will see a substantial increase in First Nations people involved in various 'caring for Country' activities, from protecting marine turtles to monitoring illegal fishing and conducting low-intensity burns. Over the next six years, $636.4 million will fund over 1,000 new rangers and 88 new ranger groups across the country. SMH
An indigenous community on the southwest coast of Colombia has helped establish a new marine protected area, conserving one of the country’s most undisturbed ecosystems. The Isla Ají MPA will cover 9,425 hectares of coastal ecosystems and 15,174 hectares of marine ecosystems, and is the result of more than two decades of negotiations. WCS
The US non-profit Rainforest Trust has protected over one million acres of habitat across Belize, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Myanmar in 2022 alone. Since inception the trust has protected 38 million acres of habitat with 99% of forest area still standing post-protection. The trust is well on its way to achieving its pledge of an additional 125 million acres by 2025.
Nepal’s first official bird sanctuary, the Ghodaghodi Lake Complex, will protect over 360 bird species, including the endangered great hornbill, the lesser adjutant stork, and Indian spotted eagle. Spanning 2,563 hecta, the complex is one of the world’s most important wetlands, providing a critical wildlife corridor for animals like the Bengal tiger and red-crowned roofed turtle. Mongabay
Scotland’s forests are expanding at breakneck speed: the share of the country that is forested has increased from just under 6% at the beginning of the 20th century, to around 18% today. Scotland now has nearly as much forest as it did 1,000 years ago, and the government has set a target for 21% by 2032. New Statesman
The state of Victoria, Australia is restoring an area five times the size of Melbourne, with plans to spend $31 million to revegetate parcels of land, capturing carbon and creating habitat for endangered wildlife. The scheme, known as BushBank, includes $7 million in grants for traditional owner corporations for restoration on country. Guardian
Starbucks has joined a growing global movement to eliminate PFAS, a group of chemicals widely used in everyday products, and linked to a range of health problems, from cancer to thyroid and immune issues. The coffee giant will remove all PFAS in its packaging by the end of 2023. Burger King, McDonalds and Taco Bell have also committed to ending PFAS packaging by 2025. EHN
A scheme to reintroduce brown bears to the Pyrenees in Spain has achieved remarkable success, with 70 individuals identified in 2021, the highest number for a century. There have been 15 pups born over the course of last year, and 114 newborns since the scheme was launched in 1996. Guardian
The populations of two of the world’s most iconic animals – gorillas and rhinos - are benefiting from a new understanding that conservation can serve a dual goal of protecting wildlife and enhancing human livelihoods. In Assam, India, more than 400 poachers were offered salaries to become wildlife rangers, and as a result the population of the one-horned rhinoceros has registered an increase of 200. In Uganda, endangered mountain gorilla families hace welcomed at least 34 new babies during the pandemic, thanks to work of ranger/community groups established to mediate human-gorilla conflicts.
Californian rice farmers and ecologists have joined forces to restore Chinook salmon runs by flooding rice fields with water from the Sacramento River, mimicking the region’s original ecological rhythms. Inspired by traditional methods from Asia, the 'salmon-rice project' has recorded an 80% survival rate for juveniles, which are growing five times faster due to lush zooplankton from decomposed rice straws.
Svalbard's walruses are back. In 1952, they were almost extinct, thanks to more than 300 years of ivory hunting. So the Norwegian government banned commercial hunting of these endangered creatures, and they began to rebound. In 2006, there were 2,629 walruses in Svalbard. Today, that number is at 5,503. Smithsonian
There is a welcome and wonderful sight appearing on beaches in the Seychelles. The endangered green turtle is making a comeback, after several decades of protection and monitoring. More than 15,000 annual clutches are now appearing, up from 3,000 in the 1960s. "This is just the beginning. There's potential for this population to double, triple, we're not even sure." The Week
South Australia's endangered sea lion population has been given a chance to bounce back after a decade-long marine conservation program substantially reduced their deaths in fishing nets. Researchers say there's been 98% reduction in sea lion bycatch mortality in gillnet fisheries since the strategy was implemented. ABC
12th March 2022 - 26th March 2022
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.
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
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
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...
8th February 2022 - 11th March 2022
Saudi Arabia has become the fourth country in the WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Region to eliminate trachoma, the leading infectious cause of blindness. It remains endemic in five countries in the region, but progress has substantially reduced the number of people requiring antibiotic treatment, from 39 million in 2013 to 11 million in 2020. WHO
Japan’s ten year cancer survival rate has increased to 58.9%. This is a disease that was once said to be incurable, but the survival rate has steadily increased alongside medical advances. Prostate cancer in Japan now has the highest survival rate at 99.2%, followed by female breast cancer at 87.5%, colorectal cancer at 69.7% and stomach cancer at 67.3%. Nippon
If you're not from Africa you've probably never heard of bilharzia, the world's most common parasitic infection. It's a debilitating disease caused by a freshwater worm, leading to chronic ill health. New data shows that in 2010, 51 million of sub-Saharan Africa's 223 million school children were infected. By 2019, that number had dropped to 28 million out of 288 million. WHO
Rodrigo Duterte has signed into law a bill raising the age of sexual consent in the Phillipines from 12 to 16. A ‘Romeo and Juliet’ clause will protect young, genuine lovers and the law will close loopholes such as an exemption in cases where victims agreed to marry their abuser. SCMP
A landmark ruling for human rights in the Middle East, with a court in Kuwait overturning legislation used to prosecute transgender people. The 2007 law, allowed authorities to arrest people whose appearance did not match the gender on their ID card. It's a rare advance in a region where being gay or transgender, if not expressly against the law, is usually treated as such. Irish Times
Colombia has decriminalized abortion procedures up to 24 weeks of gestation. The progress is thanks to the feminist 'green wave' sweeping Latin America with pro-choice advocates sporting green bandanas. Abortion was recently decriminalized in Argentina and Mexico, and Ecuador has decriminalized the procedure in cases of rape. Al Jazeera
It’s an awakening of women’s rights. We’ve arrived at a moment in which we were tired of being left behind and just started reclaiming our rights. For many years we were just waiting.
Paula Avila-Guillen, Executive Director of the Women’s Equality Centre
After a long history of conflict (how's that for an understatement), several Arab countries are welcoming Jewish people back to their countries. In the UAE a government-led effort has resulted in kosher restaurants, a Jewish centre and a state-financed synagogue, and in 2020 the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco all agreed to normalise relations with Israel. Economist
US immigration authorities have released new policies making it easier for children who are victims of abuse to qualify for green cards, finalizing changes first proposed more than a decade ago. Since 2010, more than 130,000 applications have been approved. These new policies will lead to even more vulnerable children being granted residency status. Reuters
The UK has pardoned all gay and bisexual men convicted under a law that criminalised same-sex relations until the 1980s. Activists fought for years to remove convictions for the thousands of men who have struggled to find jobs due a criminal record, in a move aimed at righting the wrongs of the past. Global Citizen
Israel and India have taken their first formal steps towards outlawing conversion therapy, banning medical professionals from providing the therapy. Doctors now face severe disciplinary action including potential revocation of their license.
This is a victory in the general struggle for tolerance and equality, but in my eyes, it is more basic and more critical because this is also a struggle for life itself, this is truly saving lives.
Nitzan Horowitz , Minister of Health, Israel
Chile is creating a new national park, covering 75,000 hectares of the Andes, to protect 386 glaciers that are melting due to climate change. The park is "a fundamental step that our country is taking to combat the destruction of nature" and will also help preserve native flora and animals likes pumas and foxes. France24
The UN has delivered a 'watershed' moment for animal rights, with a historic resolution formally recognising the links between animal welfare and the environmental crisis. Activists have campaigned for this for decades - it ensures greater awareness that how animals are treated affects not just the animals themselves but human health and the health of the environment. Newswire
New Zealand’s national bird is bouncing back from the brink, with the population of the North Island brown kiwi population of 20,000 expected to grow by more than 10% over the next three generations. Conservationists and volunteers have worked for over 30 years to save the flightless bird which struggled to survive the introduction of predators such as stoats, rats, and ferrets. Stuff
Humpback whales will be removed from Australia's threatened-species list. An independent scientific panel deemed the mammals had made a major recovery, after facing near extinction in the 1980s. The whales will still have protection in Australian waters, where it is offence to kill, injure, take, trade, keep, move, or interfere with a humpback. ABC
Basking sharks are now a ‘protected wild animal’ in Ireland thanks to new regulations to prevent hunting or interference with its breeding or resting places. The sharks are the second biggest fish in the world and feed on plankton. Irish waters are home to 15% -20% of the world’s basking shark population. Journal
175 nations came together last week to strike “the most significant environmental multilateral deal since the Paris accord”. Representatives endorsed an end to plastic pollution, with a legally binding pact to address the full life cycle of plastics and a financing model to support lower-income countries. Work now begins on implementing the treaty by 2024. NYT
“Against the backdrop of geopolitical turmoil, the UN Environment Assembly shows multilateral cooperation at its best. Plastic pollution has grown into an epidemic, but with today’s resolution we are officially on track for a cure.”
Espen Barth Eide, President, UNEA-5
Without much fuss and even less public attention, America is in the midst of a multibillion-dollar shift to cage-free eggs in response to new laws and demands from restaurants. Cage-free housing has soared from 4% in 2010 to 28% in 2020, and is expected to reach 70% by 2025. The change marks one of the animal welfare movement’s biggest successes after years of battles with the food industry. AP
The Tequila fish has successfully been reintroduced the into the wild in Mexico, 18 years after it was declared extinct. In 1998, five pairs of fish were sent from a UK zoo to Michoacana University, where the population was protected and expanded. 1,500 fish were recently released into the river in Jalisco and the local community are playing a key role in monitoring the progress. BBC
Honduras has banned open-pit mining with immediate intervention for existing projects in areas of 'high ecological value'. It’s an unexpected win from a country that has a poor track record of threatening environmental defenders who oppose mining. Honduras joins El Salvador and Costa Rica as countries that have banned open-pit mining in Central America. Mongabay
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic just received seed donations from Sudan, Uganda, New Zealand, Germany, and Lebanon. The vault is located halfway between Norway and the North Pole, and holds over 1.1 million seeds from nearly 6,000 plant species. It was created in 2008 to preserve the diversity of the world’s crops from war, disease, and environmental threats.
Last seen staggering around on the lawn of Jimmy Carter's White House, energy security is suddenly back. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shown that fossil fuels, long promoted as reliable, secure sources of energy, are actually the opposite: constantly at the mercy of unpredictable disruptions. The idea of renewables representing 'freedom energy' is everywhere - and only getting stronger. Everyone seems to have finally realised that other countries can't stop the wind blowing and the sun shining in yours.
This national security paradigm has turned out to be a much better mobilising force than the climate catastrophe paradigm. The speed of change has been astonishing. Shell, Exxon and BP spent decades building inroads to Russia’s fossil-fuel wealth, but in less than 60 hours last week, all announced exits, with no clear path to recoup their billions of dollars of investments. The $11 billion Nord Stream 2 project, a carbon bomb that had paralysed the West for years, is bankrupt, and Russia's prospecting plans in the Arctic looks like they're dead in the water too.
The invasion has brought a wartime energy transition to Europe. The continent’s decades-long timelines for overhauling energy systems that support 440 million people is now being revved up under extraordinary duress. The European Commission has already released a plan to cut most of its reliance on Russian gas by the end of this year, which is insane, considering the continent got 40% of its gas from Russia last year. As the EU's Green Deal chief, Frans Timmermans said, “We are now protecting our vital interest."
Nowhere is this acceleration more apparent than in Germany, a country which imports 65% of its gas from Russia. Europe’s leading economy has pledged to get 100% of its energy from renewables by 2035, bringing forward the previous target by 15 years, and also earmarked $220 billion to fund industrial transformation between now and 2026. In the announcement, German finance minister Christian Lindner described clean energy as, you guessed it, "the energy of freedom”. Reuters
Nordea, the biggest bank in the Nordic region, has announced it will cease all lending to offshore oil and gas (it currently has a €1 billion portfolio of assets in the sector). The bank also says it expects to devote more of its financing to the energy transition, with a fourfold increase in lending between now and 2025. Nordea
British bank Natwest cut lending to oil and gas clients by 21% last year, and just announced it will ditch coal companies that don’t have credible decarbonisation plans. French insurer CNP Assurances will no longer finance new oil and gas, and Dutch pension fund PFZW will disinvest from any fossil fuel company that doesn't have a 'convincing and verifiable' strategy to meet the Paris agreement.
Across the Atlantic, there's also been a marked change in tone too. A ban on Russian gas and oil imports by the Biden administration received bipartisan support and a significant majority of Americans say they're willing to put up with higher prices at the pump. The timing couldn't be better - the US electricity sector just passed a massive milestone: the amount of gas used for power generation has likely peaked and begun a long-term decline. The days of gas growing and gaining market share are over, and the beginning of a long, structural decline is now underway. IEEFA
On the flipside, the clean energy gold rush is just getting going. California just increased its renewables target to 72% by 2032, and on the east coast, an auction for offshore wind leases just totalled an amazing $4.37 billion, more than nine times the previous US record for offshore wind. By contrast, a sale of oil drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico late last year attracted only $191.7 million.
Or maybe a new oil rush? Texas now has 106 GW of solar in its proposed pipeline. The motivation is clear: the Lone Star state boasts the fastest growth in power demand in the US, cheap land and abundant sunshine. “No one is sitting around saying ‘Are new solar additions going to slow down or collapse?' The only question seems to be ‘How high is this going to go?'" Bloomberg
Good news from our backyard: the state of Victoria has announced plans for 2GW of offshore wind by 2032, and 9 GW by 2040, after legislation passed last year cleared the way for development. The 10 proposed projects are looking to capitalise on strong wind resources along thousands of kilometres of coastline. Reuters
Meanwhile in China, the head of the National Development and Reform Commision, the country's chief state planner, has announced a plan to build (checks notes) 450 GW of solar, wind and hydro in the Gobi and other desert regions. This is absolutely mindblowing. To put that in perspective: the entire world collectively added 290 GW of renewables in 2021. Reuters
China is also targeting 30 GW of battery storage by 2025, and 100 GW of battery storage and 120 GW of pumped hydro by 2030. That's according to the head of the State Grid Corporation of China. These figures completely blow all previous forecasts for the Asia-Pacific region out of the water, and the impact on the learning curves for storage technologies will be enormous. Energy Storage News
And finally... it's the year 2022 and there are giant floating solar flowers on reservoirs in South Korea.
4th February 2022 - 17th February 2022
Female genital mutilation is one of the worst ideas humanity has ever come up with, and we've been practising it for more than a thousand years. In the last generation however, it's started to decline. Progress is uneven, and the pandemic has caused setbacks, but in the 30 countries where it's most prevalent, one in three girls aged 15 -19 today have undergone FGM, versus one in two a generation ago. UNICEF
Human African trypanosomiasis, better known as sleeping sickness, used to be one of Africa's most notorious diseases. In the late 1990s, more than 35,000 cases were reported annually. Today, it's close to being eliminated - only 663 cases were reported in 2020, the lowest number ever recorded and a reduction of 83% since 2000.
You don't hear about much about rubella (German measles) in rich countries these days, because science. In poor countries though, it's still the leading cause of birth defects. Some welcome news from the WHO then - between 2012 and 2020, the number of countries that introduced the rubella vaccine increased from 132 to 173, resulting in a 48% drop in cases. 70% of the world’s infants are vaccinated and elimination has been verified in almost half the world’s countries.
Nigeria is making steady progress towards ending open defecation, with over 60 local government areas now declared open defecation free. In 2006 over a quarter of Nigeria’s population practised OD, which is linked to disease outbreaks like cholera, diarrhoea, and typhoid. Today that number has declined to 18%. Prime Progress
One thing COVID taught us is that infrastructure can be built quickly when the will is there. While much of the world stopped at plexi-glass shields in retail shops, the Philippines undertook the largest bike line construction program in its history, building 500 km of bike paths to replace public transport in under a year. World Bank
In the two decades since Portugal decriminalised the personal possession of all drugs, overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime have all dramatically decreased. The ground-breaking reform was part of policy shift to prioritise health over criminalization and its success has inspired the implentation of similar models in Oregon and now, potentially, Norway. Transform Drugs
Mississippi has legalized medical marijuana for people suffering from cancer, AIDS, and sickle cell disease. The new law allows patients to buy up to 3.5g of cannabis per day, up to six days a week. Mississippi is the 37th state in the US to make this kind of medicine legal. NPR
A historic ruling in Ecuador has given the country's 14 indigenous groups the power to veto mining and oil projects on their lands. Indigenous communities must now be consulted and give consent before any extractive projects can commence on or near their territory. Mongabay
The Snoqualmie tribe, also known as the People of the Moon, have reclaimed ownership of their ancestral lands in Washington State, with the purchase of 12,000 acres of former logging forest. It’s a ‘monumental’ victory for the tribe, who have fought to reclaim the land since the 1930s and will now switch to harvesting sustainable timber as part of a bigger plan to restore local wildlife populations.
The global movement towards a four day work week is gaining momentum, with workers in Belgium now legally entitled to a 38 hour working week as part of new labour reforms to tackle burnout. Scotland, Spain and Japan are also trialing the idea following Iceland's success, where 86% of workers now work shorter weeks or have the right to ask to do so. Euro News
A big win for human rights, as New Zealand becomes the latest country to ban conversion therapy. The new law received 107,000 public submissions; the highest number ever received for a piece of legislation. The practice is also currently outlawed in Canada, France, Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, Albania, and Germany. Guardian
To all those who have been affected by conversion practices or attempts at them, we want to say, this legislation is for you. We cannot bring you back, we cannot undo all of the hurt, but we can make sure that for the generations to come, we provide the support and love you did not get and protect you from the harm of those who seek to try to stop you from being who you are.~ Grant Robertson, Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
In one of its most significant workplace reforms in decades, the United States will end forced arbitration agreements for survivors of workplace sexual assault and harassment. Arbitration clauses are buried in millions of employment contracts and have long served as loopholes for offenders. The victory comes five years after the #MeToo movement burst into global public consciousness. ABC
40 years after the first case of HIV was diagnosed in Australia, the country is close to eliminating transmission of the virus, recording just 633 cases last year - the lowest number since 1984. The public health victory is owed to the early response to the virus - the introduction of a needle exchange, the tireless dedication of volunteer carers and an early roll-out of the HIV prevention pill. BBC
Cuba has established a new marine protected area spanning 728 km2 of mangrove forests, seagrass beds and coral reefs. The region is an important spawning site for coral reefs and fish and is also home to critically endangered hawksbill turtles, loggerhead turtles and American crocodiles. Mongabay
More than 100 countries have committed to strengthening protection measures in international waters to combat illegal fishing and reduce plastic pollution. This comes after the conclusion of the first global summit dedicated solely to the ocean. The EU and 16 other states also agreed to pursue a global agreement by the end of the year to regulate the sustainable use of the high seas. Guardian
Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to hold joint patrols in the waters between their countries to stop to illegal fishing. Malaysia loses $1.4 billion to foreign fishing vessels each year while Indonesia loses around $2 billion. The patrols will focus on the Strait of Malacca, one of the world’s most heavily trafficked shipping lanes. Mongabay
Iceland will officially end all commercial whaling in 2024. Only one license holder remains in the country after a two year suspension on hunts, and even they doubt there is 'any economic advantage' to continuing beyond 2024 when the current quotas expire. Maritime Executive
Hawaii has become the first US state to ban shark fishing with new legislation making it illegal to “knowingly capture, entangle, or kill any species of shark.” It’s not the first time Hawaii has led the way for shark conservation; in 2010 it was the first state to ban the possession and distribution of shark fins. Planetary Press
We are well aware of how important sharks are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems. We also recognize their importance in native Hawaiian cultural practices and beliefs.~ Brian Neilson, Hawaiian Division of Aquatic Resources
Big conservation victory in South Africa, after the country's High Court sided with Indigenous communities in the Eastern Cape to stop Shell's efforts to explore shale gas off the country’s eastern coast. The area falls within the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany biodiversity hotspot, and its pristine waters provide habitat for an exceptional array of endemic and endangered marine species. Hakai
Indonesia has recorded significant progress in its program to restore its tropical peatlands. In 2021 it rehabilitated 300,000 ha, representing 25% of its four year target. Attention will now turn to mangrove restoration, emulating the same approach. Mongabay
The US EPA has resumed the enforcement of a rule that limits power plant emissions of mercury and other hazardous pollutants. The original rule, created in 2012, helped curb mercury’s devastating neurological damage to children and prevented thousands of premature deaths, but was abandoned during the Trump administration. AP
Well, here’s a twist … tax receipts from surging gun and ammunition sales in the US have boosted funds for federal conservation programs to a record $1.1 billion. Thanks to forward-thinking legislation created in 1937, tax money from hunting and shooting equipment is distributed into conservation grants to stop the decline of fish and animal species. Outline
Sinaloa has become the fifth state in Mexico to ban bullfighting. Annual bullfights across Mexico result in the killing of thousands of bulls every year but the tide is turning with 73% of Mexicans supporting a nationwide ban. World Animal News
Good news for cranes in the UK, with 72 pairs recorded last year, the highest number since the 17th century. A small number of birds were reintroduced to Norfolk’s Broads in 1979 after a 400 year absence due to wetland drainage and hunting. Habitat protections and hand-rearing projects have helped boost the population to over 200 birds. BBC
Good news for dogs in America. A decade ago, 2.6 million stray dogs and cats were being euthanized each year. However, thanks to dog-relocation networks, animal rescue and increased demand for pets during the pandemic, the number of euthanised dogs has now fallen to a historic low of 390,000. Time
After four decades of controversy and legal battles, Korea will ban all bear farming from 2026. While the meat and fur trade are currently illegal, the trade of bear bile has continued to be sold since 1981 as an ingredient for traditional medicine. Under the new law, bears currently in farms must be relocated to protection shelters by 2025. Korea Herald
The declaration to cease bear breeding is particularly meaningful because the government, the agricultural industry and civil society have combined to resolve a 40-year-old issue.~ Han Jeoung-ae, Minister of Environment, South Korea
Federal protections for gray wolves have been fully restored across most of the US after a federal court ruled that existing populations could not be sustained without proper measures. The recovery of wolf populations from near-extinction in the 1930s has been a historic conservation victory, but different administrations have tried to scale back protections since they were first enacted in 1974. NPR
There's an election happening in Australia this year, so naturally anti-renewable campaigns have reached fever pitch. The country however, now has 25GW of installed solar capacity – the most per capita in the world. This caps off a record-breaking year in 2021, when more than 3GW of rooftop solar was installed by households and businesses. RE
More good news down under. Despite the best efforts of the Australian government to prop it up, the gas industry is getting destroyed by clean energy. Wind and solar provided five times more power than gas in 2021, while gas generation reached its lowest level in 15 years. Coal is down to 62.8% too, its lowest level since the interconnected national market began in 1999. The Age
And more: another insurance company has dumped Adani: Convex, a global reinsurance company, has announced it won't be going anywhere coal or coal-related infrastructure. The company did not specifically name Adani but referred only to “a new coal mine in Australia.” Convex is the 43rd insurer to rule out underwriting the mine. Insurance Business Mag
Even more: Australia's largest coal-fired power station, which supplies 20% of NSW’s daily power needs, is closing in 2025, seven years sooner than originally planned.
And even more! After seven years, the epic legal battle to protect the pristine Bylong Valley in Australia from a massive new coal mine has been won. The case pitted local residents against the government-backed multinational KEPCO. This project would have generated over 200 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Environmental Defenders Office
Duke Energy, a US utility serving customers in six states, has announced plans to cut coal to less than 5% of its total generation by 2030 and to fully exit coal by 2035. The company currently owns about 16 GW of coal plants, and describes this as the “largest planned coal fleet retirement in the industry.” IEEFA
US insurance giant Travelers will no longer underwrite companies that generate more than 30% of their revenue from coal or have more than 30% of their reserves in tar sands. It joins 35 insurers globally that have ended or limited coverage: three Norh American insurers, most Asian insurers, and all major European insurers.
New York's state pension fund is selling $238 million of stocks it holds across 21 shale oil and gas companies, saying they're not moving fast enough to a low-emissions economy. In Denmark, one of the country's biggest pension funds is ditching $300 million of oil and gas bonds bonds by December, after concluding the assets pose a growing risk to returns.
Big news in the world of vertical farming. America's biggest retailer, Walmart, has bought an equity stake in Plenty, which grows food off tall, modular towers. The move makes Walmart the first major US retailer to make a significant investment into this area, and it will start offering vertically farmed produce to consumers later this year. Reuters
Coal-free steel plans are accelerating in Europe. German producer Salzgitter will convert to hydrogen and electric arc by 2033, aiming to supply low-carbon steel to all BMW’s plants, and the world's second biggest steelmaker ArcelorMittal has announced a €1.7 billion plan to replace three of its five French blast furnaces with electric arc or direct iron reduction plants by 2030. Argus
Japanese carmakers squandered their leadership in the EV space a decade ago, and aren't keen to make the same mistake again. Honda just ended all vehicle production at its legendary Sayama 'mother factory' in Tokyo, which has been building petrol-powered cars since 1964, and Nissan says it's ending combustion engine development in all markets except the United States.
Ford is investing another $20 billion to reorganize its business for the electric future, aiming to convert every one of its factories from gas-powered to electric vehicle production and hiring more engineers. This brings the automaker's total investment into EVs and digital to $50 billion, as it goes all in on a high stakes race for survival against its rivals. The Verge
In the fourth quarter of 2021, hybrid and electric vehicles surpassed more than 10% of light-duty vehicle sales in the US for the first time ever. On Thursday last week, the US government announced a $5 billion plan to blanket states with electric-vehicle chargers. And in case you were watching the adverts at Super Bowl LVI, top takeaway seemed to be:
21st January 2022 - 3rd February 2022
Jimmy Carter's dream of making Guinea Worm the third ever disease to be fully eradicated is within reach. Only 14 cases were recorded in 2021. Decades of health campaigns to improve access to safe drinking water in Africa have dramatically decreased the disease, which, 35 years ago was infecting 3.5 million people in 21 countries. Al Jazeera
New research has shown that nearly 5.4 million cancer deaths have been avoided in the EU between 1989 and 2022. Since 2017 alone, the cancer death rate has fallen by 6% in men and 4% in women, and in 2022 it's estimated there will be 369,000 fewer deaths compared to the peak back in 1988. Medical.net
The WHO just published new data on global access to cooking fuels. In 1990, 53% of humanity used wood, charcoal, kerosene or dung to cook their food. By last year, that proportion dropped to 36%. In actual numbers, that means that in a single generation, an extra 2.48 billion people are now cooking with electricity or clean stoves.
India just completed its fifth National Family Health Survey, and hidden deep inside some impenetrable PDFs is a whole lot of truly extraordinary data (keep in mind this is a country of 1.38 billion people). Between 2015 and 2020:
- The proportion of women with ten or more years of education increased from 35.7% to 41%.
- Contraceptive use increased from 54% to 67%.
- Teen pregnancy declined from 51 to 43 per 1,000 women.
- The neonatal mortality rate declined from 29.5 to 24.9 per 1,000 live births.
- Under-five mortality rate declined from 49.7 to 41.9 per 1,000 live births.
- The fertility rate decreased from 2.2 to 2.0, and is now below replacement levels in 23 of India's 28 states.
- Access to improved sanitation skyrocketed from 48.5% to 70.2%.
- Access to electricity increased from 88% to 96.8%.
- Households using clean fuel or electricity for cooking increased from 43.8% to 58.6%
- Households with at least one person covered on a health insurance scheme increased from 28.7% to 41%.
Seems like an appropriate place to leave this tweet:
New legislation in Pakistan has significantly strengthened protections for women in the workplace. The law expands the definition of harassment to include “discrimination on the basis of gender, which may or may not be sexual in nature” and will protect domestic workers and students, as neither group were covered previously by law. HRW
A landmark court ruling in India will give sex workers identity documents, allowing them to access social welfare, bank accounts and voting. Although prostitution is legal, the lack of identification papers within the sex industry has left many workers vulnerable to trafficking and poverty. The reform comes after a decade of petitioning by a collective of sex workers in Kolkata. NYT
Papua New Guinea has abolished the death penalty because "it’s not an effective deterrent to serious crime.” The country abolished capital punishment in 1970 but reintroduced it in 1991. Amnesty says 144 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or in practice, and last year saw the lowest number of executions globally in more than a decade. SBS
Divorce is getting less nasty in wealthy countries. Legal reform and access to mediation have made the process cheaper, faster, and less traumatic for children, and cultural shifts have helped too - with more mothers in the workforce and fathers actively involved in child-raising, shared custody agreements are on the rise. Economist
Thailand is on track to decriminalize marijuana, with a proposal to remove the plant from the list of controlled drugs. Currently, the plant is a category-5 narcotic drug and possession can lead to hefty fines and up to 15 years jailtime. Medical cannabis is already legal and can be used in foods and cosmetics. SCMP
The world’s largest oyster restoration has been achieved on the Piankatank and Great Wicomico rivers in Virginia with over 1,000 acres improving water quality and habitat for other wildlife. The initiative is part of the 2014 Chesapeake Bay Watershed Agreement which aimed to fully restore oyster populations in the bay's tributaries by 2025. So far, four of the six targeted tributaries have met their restoration goals. Nature Conservancy
Indigenous farming practices are starting to gain serious momentum across western America. In Arizona, there were 291 farms with a Native American farm operator in 2002; today that number has expanded to more than 11,729 farms. Indigenous practices focus on “trying to reconnect with place by developing sustainable, organic produce for community members.” Civil Eats
The US federal government has committed over $1 billion to the restoration of Florida’s Everglades. The mammoth project will increase protection for hundreds of endangered plant and animal species and maintain the crucial source of drinking water for Florida’s eight million residents. Miami Herald
The EU has taken its first steps towards banning live animal exports, and enforcing stricter rules to ensure humane transportation for slaughter, fattening or breeding. New rules will target overcrowding, food and water supplies and cap journey times at eight hours for domestic animals, and four hours for pregnant ones. World Animal News
A forestry company in Finland is at the helm of a huge new rewilding project to restore ecosystems impacted by decades of logging. Although 77% of Finland is forested, commercial plantations have destroyed almost all of the old growth. The restoration work will involve nine river basins and focus on recreating old spawning grounds for fish and rebuilding sustainable ecosystems. Guardian
Africa’s Great Green Wall is the world’s most ambitious reforestation project, with funding to match. 15 years in, has the project lived up to its hype? In Niger at least, the answer is yes. As of 2020, nearly 400,000 ha of desert has been restored, with the improved soil supporting an abundance of crops. Hundreds of communities are now working together to create economic opportunities from their thriving landscape. NYT
A big win for mangrove conservation in Mumbai, with 53% of mangrove cover legally declared a forest by the end of 2021, a 30% increase from the beginning of the year. Mangroves play an important role in mitigating the impact of climate change, and a further 3,000 ha will be protected in 2022. Hindustan Times
After decades of conservation efforts, the Channel Islands, off the coast of Southern California, have been successfully restored. The islands are now home to a healthy population of bald eagles and other formerly threatened species including the island fox, peregrine falcons and the island scrub jay are thriving. The islands also now host the largest seal and sea lion rookery in the world. HCN
Conservation efforts on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula are working. In the 1990s, populations of pumas, tapirs, and peccaries fell to almost zero, but protected reserves gave many species a chance to recover completely. Conservationists are now focused on creating and protecting wildlife corridors, for jaguars and other roving species to roam and grow. Mongabay
Speaking of wildlife corridors, they're gaining momentum around the world. Wildlife bridges and crossing structures are allowing animals to safely cross highways, reducing the risk of vehicle collisions. Banff National Park in Canada boasts the most wildlife crossings in the world, with 38 underpasses and 6 overpasses. Now Toronto
A record 247,000 Western Monarch butterflies overwintered in California last year, a dramatic increase from just 2,000 in 2020. The boom has been linked to an increase in native plants and reduced pesticide use. Efforts to protect the butterfly’s habitat are also underway with transportation and energy companies agreeing to 'rights-of-way' corridors and wintering sites across the US. Mongabay
Also.... enough with all the drawings of dead butterflies!
Dolce & Gabbana has banned fur and angora from all future collections. It's a huge win for campaigners who fought for this for decades. The announcement follows other luxury brands like Moncler, Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Balenciaga who have also recently gone fur free. Vogue Business
After more than 150 years, the legal ivory trade in Hong Kong has come to an end. Landmark legislation has banned the sale of ivory products. The new rules ban the 'import, re-export, and commercial possession of elephant ivory' but exclude antique pieces dated before 1925. Wild Aid
New Zealand’s fur seal population has bounced back from near extinction, with 200,000 seals now thriving along the coastline. The victory has led conservationists to an unexpected problem, as they now face questions around how to manage the interactions between the seals and their human neighbours. Guardian
As we enter the Year of the Tiger, the WWF has released a report showing the century-long trend of wild tiger decline has finally been reversed. Highlights from the report include the creation of the world’s largest tiger protected area in China, a national park in Russia, and the transformation of a transboundary corridor between India and Nepal from 115 hectares to 3,800 hectares of forest, encompassing over 6,000 community members and stewards of the land. WWF
The 27 countries of the European Union installed 25.9 GW of new solar capacity last year, an increase of 34% over 2020. That makes 2021 the best year for solar in Europe's history. All EU states are now on track to reach their 2030 solar goals, with Latvia and Estonia already across the line, and Poland, Ireland, and Sweden expected to reach their targets next year. Yale360
Germany is ramping up its decarbonisation plans. The new government of Europe's powerhouse economy is proposing 2% of total land area for wind power, will oblige all new commercial buildings to install solar, is targeting 50% of all building heating to be carbon neutral by 2030, and aims to cover 80% of total power demand with renewables by that date. PV Magazine
China built more offshore wind capacity in 2021 than the rest of the world managed in the last five years put together. Just to put that in context, the UK previously had the most offshore wind, with 10GW. China has just built 1.5x that in a single year, and twice as much as the IEA forecast in… December 2021. CCTV
China is also reforming its national electricity market, with new regulations that will force all of the country's coal-fired generation to compete with renewables by 2025. This comes on top of news that non-fossil fuel energy sources such as wind, nuclear, solar and hydro are on track to make up more than half of China's total power generation capacity by the end of 2022. Reuters
Eastern Pacific, one of the largest privately-owned ship management companies in the world, has just announced it will no longer carry coal. "This is intended to be a message to the maritime industry that decarbonisation isn’t exclusive to how we move ships - what we move also matters." Marine Log
In the home of cheap fracked gas, gas is proving to be not so cheap after all. Clean energy in the United States is now definitively less expensive - which is why gas powered generation is being replaced by wind and solar. Solar capacity is now 20 times greater in the US than it was in 2011, and wind capacity has more than doubled. Economics, not ideology, is driving the transition. EIA
A federal judge just invalidated the biggest offshore oil and gas lease sale in US history - 80 million acres of drilling leases issued by the Biden administration — stating that it acted “arbitrarily and capriciously”. Instead of updating an environmental study performed during the Trump administration, the Biden administration simply repurposed the study without any changes. Reuters
White flag time at Southern Company's Georgia Power, one of the United States' biggest utilities, and once one of the most adamant coal-burning utilities/lobbying forces. It plans to close its entire coal fleet by 2028, replacing it with renewables and fossil gas. The Hill
The world spent $755 billion on low carbon solutions last year, up from 27% in 2020, and 14% of all venture capital now goes into climate tech, 2.5x pre-pandemic investment levels. While it's exciting to see the money finally pouring in, we’ve still got a way to go - McKinsey estimates it's going to take $9 trillion a year to get to net zero by 2050, or 12 times as much as the world is spending today.
We're still in the early days of the energy transition...
Fossil-free steel is coming sooner than anyone thought. Sweden’s SSAB, a pioneer in making steel from hydrogen, is bringing forward the closure of its coal-fired furnaces from 2045 to 2030. This will eliminate eight million tonnes of carbon a year, reducing Sweden’s carbon emissions by 10%, Finland’s by 7%, and with the European carbon price at around €90 a ton, looks like a clever financial decision too.
Last year, an electric car sold more units in Switzerland than any other car (gasoline, diesel, hybrid, etc.). The Tesla Model 3 didn’t just rule all electric sales, but all types of cars. Comparing November 2021 to November 2020, new car registrations for electric vehicles grew by +63%. Clean Technica
Tesla’s factory in California is now the most productive auto plant in North America. Last year it produced an average of 8,550 cars a week, more than Toyota's juggernaut in Kentucky (8,427 cars a week), BMW's Spartanburg hub in South Carolina (8,343) or Ford's iconic truck plant in Michigan (5,564). Bloomberg
The electric equivalents of the Ford F150, the Honda CRV, Lexus RX and the Toyota Corolla - some of the most popular cars in the United States - are now officially cheaper than their petrol-powered counterparts. Also... 1,200 km on a single charge? Better move those goalposts, range anxiety-ists.
1st January 2022 - 20th January 2022
Vaccine distribution is finally picking up speed outside rich countries. COVAX, the global vaccine sharing initiative, delivered a record-breaking 309 million doses of covid vaccine across 70 low and middle income countries last month, and this month, reached the milestone of one billion doses distributed worldwide. WaPo
Cancer mortality rates in the United States have dropped by a third since the 90s due to 'major progress' in early detection and treatment for lung cancer. Lung cancer mortality decreased by 5% each year between 2015 and 2019 and is attributed to annual screenings and smoking prevention programs. CNN
I'm an oncologist, so I'm an inveterate optimist. But I think the key message for the public is that there's room for optimism across all types of cancer.
Dr. Deb Schrag, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre
Last weekend, Uganda conducted a door to door vaccination program to immunise eight million children against polio - in just three days. Uganda has achieved incredible results in childhood health over the past 20 years, with the mortality rate for under fives dropping by more than half. East African
A ground-breaking change to health regulations in Canada will allow patients suffering from serious mental health illnesses to access psychedelic therapies, including psilocybin and MDMA. The amendment represents a 'seismic shift' towards the legalization of psychedelics, which can be effective in treating PTSD and depression. Calgary Herald
UNICEF has updated data on global child mortality trends, and it's really good news. Thus far, the pandemic has not resulted in the feared reversal - rather, child mortality actually decreased in 2020, to 37 deaths per 1,000 live births. The longer term trends are even more encouraging, with the under five mortality rate falling by more than half since 2000.
Tanzania has lifted a 20-year ban preventing adolescent mothers from attending school. The ban was rooted in policy from the 1960s that included a mandatory pregnancy test and potential arrest if pregnant. Under the new law, young mothers will be allowed to resume their formal education after giving birth. Citizen
Canada and France have just outlawed conversion therapy, passing comprehensive legislation within days of each other. Brazil, Ecuador, Malta, Albania, and Germany have already fully or partially banned the practice and another 11 countries, including New Zealand, Mexico, Spain, and Britain are currently working towards reform.
Further victories for human rights around the globe. A Taiwanese court made a landmark ruling allowing a man to legally adopt his husband’s non-biological child, Israel has lifted its surrogacy ban, allowing single men and same-sex couples to pursue surrogacy, and new legislation in the Faroe Islands has granted equal parental rights for same-sex couples.
Fatal police shootings in America dropped by 13% between 2020 and 2021, reaching the lowest annual number on record. Biggest drop? Florida. Increased public accountability and initiatives replacing armed officers with healthcare and social workers for mental-health related 911 calls contributed to the decline. ABC
The Kenyan government has made a historic commitment to the rights of women and girls, vowing to end gender-based violence by 2026. $23 million has been allocated to prevention and response services, research, and the establishment of a survivors’ fund. The achievement comes after decades of tireless advocacy. Gates Foundation
Landmark legislation in the Philippines has banned child marriage, constituting the practice as child abuse. This is a big, big moment for the country with one of the world's highest rates of child marriage. Bravo to the activists who made this happen. SCMP
Technology, education, and community efforts have helped Bangladesh reduce cyclone-related deaths more than 100-fold since 1970. The country’s multi-layered approach is leading the way for other developing countries to better manage the risks of climate disasters. New Humanitarian
Ecuador has expanded its protected waters by 60,000 km2, building upon the existing Galapagos Marine Reserve, which already protects 138,000 km2 of ocean from extractive activities. Together, Costa Rica and Ecuador have now connected two of the world’s most biologically significant and productive marine habitats. DW
These islands teach us something about ourselves.
What if we didn't set ourselves up as masters over this Earth, but as its protectors?
Guillermo Lasso, President of Ecuador
Ten countries in the western Indian ocean are joining forces to create a network of marine conservation areas dubbed the ‘Great Blue Wall’. The first stage of the project will be in the Pemba Channel off the coast of Tanzania, and focus on restoring coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass meadows. Mongabay
An international group of researchers has compiled the first database of marine conservation efforts in China, and the results have surprised everyone. The country has 326 protected areas covering almost 13% of its territorial waters — and the researchers still aren't sure they've found all of them. Hakai
Over a thousand fin whales were seen swimming last week in the seas off Antarctica, the same ones in which they were driven to near-extinction last century. Conor Ryan, the @whale_nerd that spotted them, said that in 20 years at sea he's never seen anything like it. “Words fail me. I've seen maybe 100 fins here before in previous years."
A new survey in India has found forest and tree cover has increased by 2,261 km2 since 2019, and now covers almost a quarter of the geographical area of the country. While the government will continue conservation efforts, its focus will also turn to enriching the quality of these existing areas. Live Mint
Policy changes in the UK mean that farmers will now receive taxpayers’ cash to rewild their land. Previously, farmers were given grants based on how much land they farmed, but will now be paid for environmental improvements instead. Rewilding is having a big of a moment in the UK; the Independent has a great list of some of the projects already underway.
For the first time this century, Beijing’s air quality met China’s national standards in 2021. The biggest achievement was the reduction of PM2.5, the most dangerous pollutant, which fell 13% last year, with levels down to a third of what they were a decade ago. CREA
France has started 2022 on the front foot, with a ban on plastic packaging for 30 fruits and vegetables coming into effect on the 1st January. An estimated 37% of fresh produce was sold in plastic packaging in France last year and the new measures should eliminate over a billion pieces of packaging per year. Guardian
Organisations in New York that throw out more than two tonnes of food each week will be required to donate or compost the waste under new legislation. The law will help the 2.2 million people struggling with food insecurity and cut emissions from the millions of tonnes of food waste produced each year. Eco Watch
Giraffe populations across Africa have rebounded by 20% since 2015. Targeted conservation measures, relocation programs and field research have contributed to the rise. Scientists also recently uncovered genetic evidence that there may be four species of giraffe rather than one, three of which have considerably increased in population. NatGeo
A historic win for animal rights in Italy, with new legislation banning fur farming across the country. The amendment includes an immediate ban on the breeding of mink, foxes, raccoon dogs and chinchillas and the closure of 10 remaining mink farms by June 30, 2022. Italy is the 16th European country to outlaw the practice. Ecowatch
In thirty years of the animal rights battle this is our best victory. Finally, a parliamentary vote sanctions the end of unspeakable suffering inflicted on animals only in the name of profit and vanity.”
Michela Vittoria Brambilla, President of the Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Rights Italy
New data from wildlife surveys shows Mexico’s endangered jaguar population increased by 20% between 2010 and 2018, giving conservationists confirmation that their strategies are working. Protection measures have included the creation of wildlife corridors and incentive programs with local communities.
The Czech Republic has brought forward its coal phase out date to 2033, five years ahead of its original target, Slovenia says it will stop using coal for electricity by the same date, South East Asia’s largest coal miner just announced it's divesting its entire coal business, and India's richest person is investing $80 billion in clean energy in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Wind became the main source of electricity generation in Spain last year, registering 23% of total production. Overall, renewables produced 46% of the country's electricity in 2021, an increase of almost 10% compared to 2020. A decade ago, renewables' share was less than 15%. Windpower Monthly
Texas is still the US state that most people associate most closely with the fossil fuels industry (a century's worth of fortunes, won and and lost, tends to have that effect). So you might be surprised to hear that nearly 40% of the Lone Star state's power was carbon free in 2021. Drill baby drill?
Good news down under. Australian homes and businesses installed just over 3GW of rooftop solar in 2021, a new annual record. There's now about 17GW of solar on the country's roofs, not because Australians think it's the right thing to do, but because they think it's the cheaper thing to do. Oh, and the state of South Australia just ran for one week on wind and sunshine alone.
Better move those goalposts, baseload’ologists.
Scotland has just finished leasing a mind-boggling 25GW of offshore wind. Even more amazing, almost 60% will be floating turbines, the first time this technology will be deployed commercially at scale. That has huge global significance; it means that offshore wind can be built in places with deeper coastlines, like Japan and Taiwan. FT
A new regulation has been issued by China's SASAC (a ministerial-level organization directly underneath the all-powerful State Council), stating that all state-owned enterprises need to achieve a 50% share of renewables in installed power capacity by 2025. In case it's not apparent, this is a really big deal.
Staying with China, new data shows the country's EV market continues to go gangbusters. Sales, which skyrocked by 154% last year to 3.3 million, are forecast to almost double again this year. The best-selling vehicle in the country? A $4,500, tiny, no-frills, three-door vehicle about the same size as a Smart car, called the Yuling Mini.
Meanwhile, the diesel death march is picking up pace in Europe. Sales of EVs overtook diesel models for the first time ever in December. That's a big milestone! More than a fifth of new cars sold across 18 European markets, including the UK, were powered exclusively by batteries, while diesel, once the most popular engine option, accounted for less than 19% of sales. FT
Chrysler says it will stop producing combustion engine powered vehicles by 2028, Hyundai is closing its combustion engine development division, and the all-electric Porsche Taycan is now outselling the 911. “Now, it is inevitable to convert into electrification.”
For a view of where things are heading, Norway's experience is instructive. Only 8% of new cars sold there last year ran purely on gasoline or diesel, while two thirds were electric, and most of the rest were hybrids. The view of Norwegians as environmental diehards is wrong too - they started with exactly the same EV skepticism we're seeing in other parts of the world right now. NYT
5th November 2021 - 9th December 2021
Portugal has shut down its last coal-fired power plant, nine years ahead of its 2030 target. It's the fourth country in the European Union to stop burning coal - Belgium quit coal in 2016, and Austria and Sweden followed suit in 2020. AP
India has achieved its target of having 40% of installed electricity powered by non-fossil fuel energy sources. Energy, mainly from renewables and a small amount of nuclear sources, generates 156.83 of 390.8 GW of the country's electricity. India is committed to reaching 500 GW of clean energy by 2030. Economic Times
Germany’s new government has announced a new climate protection programme that will bring forward its coal exit by 8 years to 2030. The country's aim is to increase renewable capacity from 65% to 80% of its electricity needs. C'mon Australia! Reuters
Canada is fast-tracking legislation to ban the practice of LGBTQ+ “conversion therapy". If successful, Canada will join Brazil, Ecuador, Germany, and Malta where the practice is already banned. Guardian
Another win for for LGBTQ+ rights. In Chile, landmark legalisation has finally recognised same-sex marriage. The victory comes after a 4 year campaign by activists and the new legislation will enable same-sex couples to adopt children. Chile joins a growing list of Catholic Latin American countries who have legalised same-sex marriage including Costa Rica, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, and 14 of Mexico's 32 states. BBC
Good news for a furry friends in Spain. New legislation now recognises animals as “sentient beings". 200,000 animals are abandoned in Spain each year and advocates have fought hard since 2017 for this law, which will protect animals from being mistreated, abandoned, or separated from one of their owners in the case of a divorce or separation. IFL Science
The largest-ever study of psilocybin, the psychoactive compound in magic mushrooms, has revealed the psychedelic drug is a highly effective alternative for treatment-resistant depression. 29.1% of patients in the highest dose group were in remission 3 weeks after a single dose, and more than a quarter of those patients sustained remission three months after. STAT News
“Everyone agrees such a result hasn’t been seen before in depression research, so we’re incredibly happy with that result.” - Lars Christian Wilde, Co-founder and President of Compass
Researchers in Cambridge are developing a biodegradable glitter made from cellulose nanocrystals rather than microplastics. Although cellulose is naturally clear, it creates colours through a process called self-assembly, in which the crystals align and twist. Although the glitter alternative will be pollution-free, it promises to be just as annoying for parents! Eco Watch
The WHO just released a new report detailing astonishing progress on measles. Between 2000 and 2020 the annual number of measles deaths fell by 94%, from 1,072,800 to 60,700, averting an estimated 31.7 million deaths. That's a lot of lives saved! Might be worth remembering the next time someone complains about how awful the world is. WHO
The WHO also just released its Global Tobacco Trends report, showing that in 2000, around a third of the global population over the age of 15 were tobacco users. By 2020, this had declined to under a quarter, and is projected to fall even further to a fifth by 2025. Reminder: tobacco is the single biggest preventable cause of cancer, with 1 in 8 cases and 1 in 5 deaths caused by smoking.
The Canadian Cancer Society says there has been significant progress in the fight against prostate cancer. Since peaking in 1995, Canada's prostate cancer death rate has been cut in half, from 45.1 to 22.7 per 100,000 people. One in eight men can expect to get the disease in their lifetime; thanks to science, it's no longer the death sentence it used to be. Newswire
The HPV vaccine has reduced cases of cervical cancer amongst young women in England by nearly 90% since 2008. Cervical cancer kills more than 300,000 women around the world each year but that number is set to fall dramatically, with over 100 countries now using the vaccine as part of a global plan to eliminate the disease. BBC
A new civil law in the United Arab Emirates will allow non-Muslims to marry, divorce and get joint child custody, making it the first Gulf country to reform marriage and divorce laws that were formerly based on religious principles. Last year the UAE also decriminalized premarital sexual relations, relaxed rules around alcohol and criminalized the practice of honour killing. Reuters
A victory for the LGBTQIA+ rights in Spain with new legislation giving single women, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people access to medically assisted reproduction in the public health system, where it is free of charge. Advocates fought for six years to overturn previous legislation that limited free IVF to heterosexual women with partners. The Star
"Expanding reproductive rights is expanding human rights"
Uge Sangil - President, Spanish Federation of LGBTQ+ Rights
The Spanish government is also taking on the problem of childhood obesity by banning advertising for unhealthy foods such as chocolate, juices, and ice creams to children. The regulations will come into force next year across TV, radio, internet, social media, and apps. El Pais
Is it possible for a city to make 50% of transport walkable and cyclable? Vancouver hit that goal five years ahead of target in 2015, with half of all inner-city trips taken by walking, biking, or transit rather than car. Now Paris is on a mission to do something similar, with a new set of plans to make the city 100% cyclable over the next five years. Bloomberg
Thirty years ago, assisted dying was only legal in Switzerland. Since 2015 however, Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, the Netherlands, Colombia, five Australian states, ten American states and most recently Portugal have legalized the practice. Campaigns in Catholic countries like Chile, Ireland, Italy, and Uruguay are making slow but steady progress too. Economist
More than two in three Americans now support legalizing marijuana, maintaining the record-high level reached last year. A decade ago less than half of the country was in favour. This might just be one of the most successful rebrands of all time. It's not weed or pot any more, it's medicine. Gallup
The Social Progress Index measures health, safety, education, technology, and human rights across 99.97% of the world’s population. In its latest report, it says that 147 nations recorded a better score than they did a decade ago, with just four countries (the US, Brazil, Syria and South Sudan) doing worse. “Social progress is advancing across the world, but it remains slow and uneven.”
China will plant 36,000 km2 of new forest (more than the total area of Belgium) every year until 2025 as it bids to combat climate change and protect natural habitats. Over the next five years officials say they will also expand the national park system, create wildlife corridors to alleviate habitat fragmentation, and crack down further on illegal wildlife trade. Reuters
A rare forest honeybee, presumed to be wiped out by disease, has been discovered in the ancient woodlands of Blenheim Palace, a 400-acre paradise of biodiversity subjected to minimal human intervention. The honeybees are thought to be the last wild descendants of Britain’s native honeybee and seem to have evolved the ability to survive the varroa mite. Guardian
A reserve spanning Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Hungary, and Serbia will become the first UNESCO biosphere to cover five different countries. Dubbed the ‘Amazon of Europe’, the new biosphere will protect floodplains, forests, gravel banks, and backwaters, and look after a huge number of animal species, including the highest density of breeding white-tailed eagles in continental Europe. Euro News
The State of the Thames Report, led by the Zoological Society of London, says the river is now home to 92 bird species and 115 marine species, including sharks, seahorses, eels, and seals. Water quality has improved too, with dissolved oxygen concentrations showing an increase from 2007 to 2020. Not bad for a river declared ‘biologically dead’ in 1957. Nature recovers if we let it. BBC
The restoration of Rabbit Island off the coast of Louisiana has resulted in a thriving local bird population with biologists counting 16 times more bird nests than expected. The island had eroded to 200 acres, but dredging funded by settlement money from the 2010 BP oil spill added another 102 acres for wildlife last year. AP
More than 20 years after the US Fish and Wildlife Service deemed the Canada lynx a threatened species, the agency has agreed on a recovery plan for the elusive, forest-dwelling carnivores. Last week the agency settled with six conservation groups that sued it over its management of lynx. “This is a victory for lynx, science, and for everyone who values healthy ecosystems.” Aspen Times
Animal rights activists have taken home another win in the battle to end cosmetic testing after New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law that will ban the sale of animal-tested beauty products in the state. The law will come into force from 1 March 2022, with those disregarding the rules facing a penalty of up to US$1,000 per product sale. Cosmetics Business
After five years of pressure from animal rights activists, travel company Expedia will stop selling holiday packages that include performances by captive dolphins and whales, as part of a global movement by travel companies to stop promoting unethical animal attractions. Guardian
We are delighted that Expedia Group are finally making a stand. It’s time for other travel giants to do the right thing and follow suit.
Katheryn Wise, World Animal Protection
For the first time, scientists will map the world’s underground fungal networks, which until now have been largely unexplored. Understanding these interconnected webs called mycelium could help us tackle climate change. Fungal networks store billions of tonnes of CO2 and act as nutrient “highways” for plants and trees and allow them to communicate. The map will identify sites with the potential to store more C02 and help protect them from external threats like agricultural fertilisers. Guardian
“An understanding of underground fungal networks is essential to our efforts to protect the soil, on which life depends, before it is too late.” - Jane Goodall, who is an advisor on the project
Nepal is on track to become the first country to double its tiger population in 2022. It's part of TX2, a global imitative supported by Russia, Nepal and 13 other countries. Nepal’s tiger population has grown steadily from 121 tigers 11 years ago, to 235 tigers 3 years ago and the country is likely to reach the 250-mark next year. The Star
After 35 years of conservation, the population of the endangered Burrowing Parrot in Chile has increased from 217 in 1986 to over 4000. The success is largely due to the protection of Río de los Cipreses National Reserve which contains the native plants that are a vital part of their diet. Evolve to Ecology
WildEast, an innovative project in East Angila in the UK, will rewild an area 3 times the size of New York City and create wildlife corridors across some of the country's most intensely farmed land. The project, initiated by 3 estate owners who all committed their land, aims to restore biodiversity to 618,000 acres by 2070. Mongabay
This could be the world’s biggest sex event! Coral along the Great Barrier Reef has spawned; releasing trillions of eggs and sperm into the ocean and giving ecologists hope for the reef’s recovery. Two-thirds of the coral across the reef was damaged by unusually warm ocean temperatures in 2016, 2017 and 2020. Marine scientists and local tourism operators are using ‘coral IVF’ to collect the eggs from part of the reef that have spawned significantly and transport them to restore parts of the reef that have suffered the most damage. NPR
"The reef has gone through its own troubles like we all have, but it can still respond — and that gives us hope. I think we must all focus on the victories as we emerge from the pandemic." - Gareth Phillips, Marine Scientist
New hope for China’s coastal wetlands with satellite imagery showing significant recovery over the last 10 years. After decades of destruction, mainly due to economic development wetland areas decreased between 1984 and 2011 but started rebounding after 2012. The turnaround is attributed to several conservation projects that started in the 1990s, when China realised the importance of these vital ecosystems and sprung into action. Mongabay
16th October 2021 - 5th November 2021
The largest and most successful vaccination drive of all time continues: India just surpassed a billion doses, making it the second country in the world to hit this mark. China leads the tally with over two billion, while Brazil has dispensed 258 million and Indonesia 172 million. Gobal total is now seven billion and counting. Quartz
One of the four major flu viruses that circulate in humans might have gone extinct thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Yamagata virus has not been detected since April 2020 anywhere in the world. Together with the Victoria virus, it used to be responsible for somewhere between 290,000 and 650,000 global deaths every year. ABC
A rapid roll-out of a new polio vaccine across six countries in Africa has resulted in over 80 million children gaining protection against the disease. With decreased risk of side effects, the new vaccine was the first to be authorised by WHO for Emergency Use, which has enabled a faster response to polio outbreaks this year. WHO
Rwanda managed to reduce its annual malaria cases from 4.8 million in 2016 to 1.8 million in 2020, and severe cases from 18,000 to 3,000 during the same period. The overall death rate during that time has plummeted by almost 70%, and the government is now trialling drones that spray anti-mosquito insecticides. RBC
Despite experiencing rapid rates of demographic growth and urbanisation, Senegal has been extraordinarily successful in managing sanitation. Thanks to visionary government programs, the rate of access to sanitation in urban areas has risen from 61.7% in 2013 to 74% in 2020, and in rural areas from 38.7% to 50.7% during the same period. Afrik21
The proportion of Brazil's population with access to sewerage facilities has increased from 45% to 54% in the last decade. During that time, hospitalisations due to waterborne diseases decreased by over 50%, from 603,623 to 273,403. Among children under four the reduction in hospitalisations has been even more pronounced, at almost 60%. Trata Institute
Stroke is a hidden killer - the second-leading cause of death worldwide, and the third-leading cause of death and disability combined. A new report in The Lancet suggests that quietly and largely uncelebrated, we're making progress. Between 1990 and 2019, the age-standardised incidence of strokes has decreased by 17%, and deaths by 36%.
The number of people killed in wars around the world fell in 2020, the second consecutive year of declines. Total battle related fatalities last year were approximately 120,000, a 30% reduction since 2018. The decrease was largely driven by reductions in Asia, Oceania, and the Middle East. SIPRI
Pakistan is an unheralded development success story from the last two decades. Between 1990 and 2019, life expectancy at birth increased by 7.2 years, average schooling increased by 2.9 years, average income rose by 64%, and poverty declined from over 50% to just over 20%. The pandemic has been a setback, but most Pakistanis are still far better off than they were a generation ago. UNDP
Tamil Nadu has become the second Indian state to grant workers the 'right to sit.' For centuries, salespeople in India have been forced to work on their feet without access to a chair. The new law is a victory for labour rights activists, and will require store owners to provide seating and allow employees to sit down whenever possible. Reuters
Chile has taken its first step towards legalising abortion with Congress approving a plan to expand current legislation that restricts the procedure to rape cases or when a woman's life is endangered. Across Latin America, it is now legal for women to choose what happens to their bodies in Agentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, Cuba, Guyana, and three Mexican states. Al Jazeera
In a mountainous, desert nation of 35 million people known for its mosques, mausoleums and ancient Silk Road sites, 80% of eligible voters just cast votes in a presidential election. It's a testament to the strength of emerging democratic norms in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan's neighbour, with officials there calling it “one of the historical achievements of our people.” JPost
Bangladesh is planning to remove Islam as the state religion and revert to its secular 1972 Constitution. It’s hoped the move will unite the country and tackle a growing radical Islamist movement that’s resulted in violence against Hindu temples. Islam was made the state religion by a Constitutional amendment during the late 1980s.
A significant majority of people in wealthy countries now believe that having people of different ethnic, religious, and racial backgrounds improves society. In the US, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan, 8 out of 10 people believe greater diversity is a benefit, and even in relatively culturally homogenous countries like Japan and Greece, the share has increased by double digits since the question was last asked four years ago. Pew
Less than a week before the start of COP26, activists announced that endowments, portfolios and pension funds worth just shy of $40 trillion have now committed to full or partial abstinence from coal, gas and oil stocks. That’s larger than the gross domestic product of the United States and China combined. NYT
One of the world’s largest pension funds, the Dutch ABP, is selling its €15bn-worth of holdings in fossil fuel companies, including Royal Dutch Shell, claiming it has been unable to persuade the sector to transition quickly enough towards decarbonisation. Guardian
A sizeable chunk of the global cement sector has committed to slashing emissions by a quarter this decade – and to be carbon neutral by 2050. The target was just announced by the Global Cement and Concrete Association, which represents about 80% of the industry outside of China
In an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in global trade, a coalition of companies that includes Amazon and Ikea has pledged to use only ocean shippers that use zero-carbon fuel by 2040. Washington Post
A coalition of philanthropic donors will spend more than $220 million to support the diplomatic effort spearheaded by the U.S. and the European Union to lower methane emissions, the largest private commitment ever toward this effort. AP
After years of pushing from environmental justice advocates, California has agreed to dramatically restrict oil and gas drilling, setting a new one kilometre limit away from from homes and schools. It's a huge victory in the climate fight because it instantly sets around a third of the state off limits to oil drilling. OilPrice
Quebec has decided to put an end to any further fossil fuel extraction. "Closing the door on fossil fuel extraction is a huge victory, made possible by relentless opposition from citizens to both shale gas and conventional oil and gas exploitation." National Observer
Did you know that the Tesla Model 3 was the best selling car in Europe last month? Not the best selling electric vehicle - the best selling car, overall. Oh, and Hertz just bought 100,000 of them for its new fleet, the largest electric car order of all time.
The government of Chile has announced the ban of sales of most internal combustion vehicles in favor of battery-electric variants starting in 2035. Under the new electric transport strategy, all sales of light and medium vehicles, public transport and heavy trucks will have to be zero-emissions. We Go Electric
New York is vying for the title of 'the greenest big city on earth' with the return of whales off the coast of Staten Island, endangered butterflies, rare native bees, coyotes in Central Park and exotic insects not seen for decades in Brooklyn. It’s down to a 40-year conservation effort of tree planting, pesticide bans, and the conversion of former landfills into nature sanctuaries. NYT
An endangered Saharan antelope, known as the mhorr, or Dama gazelle, is on the road to recovery thanks to a rescue mission by an army captain from Spain 50 years ago. The descendants of the rescued gazelles given refuge in the Doñana Park in southern Spain now number 4,000 and have been reintroduced in Tunisia, Morocco, and Senegal. El Pais
For the first time in 60 years, cheetahs have returned to Mozambique, with two males and two females transported to Maputo Special Reserve as part of a rewilding project to reintroduce carnivores to ecologically restored landscapes and expand the shrunken gene pool. Daily Maverick
The population of wild Amur tigers in China, commonly referred to as Siberian Tigers, has rebounded from only 8 big cats in the 1990s to around 60 today. The good news is due to stronger environmental regulations and the creation of several reserves, including the largest tiger refuge in the world. Mongabay
Sea turtle populations are thriving in Cape Verde, with the number of nests increasing from 10,000 to almost 200,000 in the past six years. It's thanks to 20 years of conservation measures and new laws to criminalise killing, trade, and consumption of sea turtles. Beaches from India to the US have also recorded exponential increases in nesting. Guardian
Malawi has dramatically reduced wildlife poaching and trafficking in the past five years, thanks to tougher penalties for convicted criminals. 90% of wildlife criminals have served an average of four and half years in prison since the legislation was amended in 2017, and no international ivory seizures have been linked to the country since. NYT
Ten years ago, the first blow was struck against the Elwha dam, amidst much celebration. The rewilding of the Elwha River has paid off, with the ecosystem bouncing back and chinook salmon returning to the waters after a hundred year absence. This beautiful photo essay shows how quickly nature can bounce back, if we let it. Orion
Two locations in West Virginia’s Canaan Valley Resort State Park have been added to a new state program to protect rare plant and animal species. The areas are home to 2,200 acres of rare conifer swamps, red spruce forest, over 40 rare plants and 12 rare invertebrates. Wowktv
The Biden administration is supporting a 20-year moratorium on copper mining in a national forest to protect the 'unique natural wonder' of Minnesota's Boundary Waters. It’s a major win for environmental groups who have endured a stop-start process under previous administrations. Salem News
Mexico has banned cosmetic testing on animals after Save Ralph, an animated film about a rabbit cosmetic tester, spurred 1.3 million people to petition for new legislation. Mexico is the first country in North America and 41st country in the world to enact the ban. Tree Hugger
Nova Scotia is creating the world's first wild refuge for ex-marine park whales. The 40-hectare coastal sanctuary will be 300 times larger than the biggest tank in any marine park and designed to accommodate up to eight beluga whales. The refuge plans to welcome its first whales early 2023. Globe & Mail
Indonesia has restored over 50,000 hectares of mangrove forests in the past two years, from 3.31 million hectares in 2019 to 3.36 million today, thanks to a planting project in villages across East Kalimantan. The new ecosystems will help improve biodiversity and mitigate the impact of climate change. WIF
Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica just announced the creation of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor, a fishing-free zone covering more than 500,000 km2 in one of the world’s most important migratory routes for turtles, whales, sharks and rays. The new interconnected area contains some of the richest pockets of ocean biodiversity on the planet, including the Galápagos Islands. Guardian
2nd October 2021 - 15th October 2021
The world has gained a new weapon in the war on malaria, among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases. In a momentous and long-awaited decision, the World Health Organization has approved the rollout of a malaria vaccine (the first ever for a parasitic disease) to protect children in Africa. NYT
India has the largest public health insurance scheme in the world, providing 500 million people with free healthcare. Since its launch three years ago, over 20 million treatments worth approximately $3.5 billion have been provided for the country's poorest citizens. In a new update announced last week, transgender operations and treatments will now be covered too.
In an unexpected public health victory, Haiti has successfully controlled the largest cholera epidemic ever recorded in a single country, while simultaneously improving maternal and child healthcare. There have been no confirmed cases of cholera since January 2019, and the quality of maternal and child health has improved significantly in the last decade thanks dto a program that pays local clinics when they meet predetermined targets. World Ban
According to the World Air Quality report, 84% of countries experienced better air quality in 2020 compared to 2019, due to the decline in industry and transport during COVID lockdowns. The report collected data from 106 countries, with Singapore, China, and Thailand recording the greatest reductions. CNN
More than 110,000 landmines covering 135 km2 were destroyed globally last year, a new annual record. Four of the world’s most heavily mined countries - Lao PDR, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iraq - accounted for 95% of the clearances, an exceptional achievement, especially against the backdrop of the pandemic. Over a million landmines have been cleared in the last decade. ReliefWeb
Bad news travels, good news doesn’t. When Afghanistan’s government collapsed, the whole world watched. But when Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country, produces the planet's most effective democratically elected leader – President Joko Widodo – almost no one outside the archipelago knows the story. Project Syndicate
Brazil’s highest court has upheld a ban on missionaries entering reserves that are home to isolated and recently contacted Indigenous people. The decision comes in response to a lawsuit filed by Indigenous organizations against a law passed in July 2020 that allowed missionaries to remain inside reserves despite the pandemic, in violation of Brazil’s official policy in place since 1987. Mongabay
The European Parliament has voted in support of banning biometric mass surveillance, stating that individuals should only be monitored if they have been suspected of a crime. The landmark resolution would put an end to the automated recognition of people in public spaces through biometrics, and also prohibit predictive policing which increases the risk of discrimination. Pro Privacy
100 of the world’s biggest companies will now pay a minimum tax rate of 15% and be accountable to the countries they operate in, thanks to the first global revamp of corporate tax rules in over a decade. 136 countries have signed the new agreement, which will raise an additional $150 billion per year that will go to citizens, rather than line the pockets of CEOs. Politico
Following the lead of Barcelona, Paris and Amsterdam, the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, is set to transform into a super-sized, low-traffic neighbourhood with a new plan to divert car traffic out of the city and introduce zero-emissions cross-city buses, cycle ways and pedestrian lanes. Guardian
Big announcements from climate laggards this week. Russia has committed to carbon neutrality by 2060, Turkey has finally ratified the Paris Agreement, and the UAE has become the first petro-state to commit to net zero by 2050. Critics say these pledges aren't enough, but they're missing the point. They're not promises. They're ratchets - once announced, they only increase in ambition.
Huge domino down. Guangdong, China's most populous province and one of its most industrialized, has banned the construction of coal plants in the Pearl River Delta, the first ever crackdown on coal by a major Chinese province. Crude oil processing will also be forbidden, along with other industries like cement, plate glass, chemical pulping, raw leather tanning and steel. SP Global
Another North American pipeline down too. The proposed PennEast Pipeline from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, one of the last remaining projects set to pull gas from the biggest gas shale basin in the United States, has been cancelled due to legal and regulatory challenges. Reuters
China has begun construction on the largest and most ambitious clean energy project of all time, 100GW of wind and solar in its western desert. That’s more than the entire existing wind and solar capacity of India, and will be able to generate four times as much power as the Three Gorges Dam. Bloomberg
The Biden administration has begun a process to identify, demarcate and start leasing federal waters for offshore wind installations across the entire US coastline - Gulf of Mexico, Gulf of Maine, the coasts of the mid-Atlantic States, North Carolina and South Carolina, California and Oregon. The first leases will be ready by 2025. NYT
Global energy storage is growing so quickly and at such a large scale it’s difficult to grasp the significance. 12.4 GW of capacity, mostly batteries, is on track to be installed in 2021, up from 4.9 GW in 2020, which was already a record. To put that into perspective, the world installed 1 GW of new capacity in 2016. Five years later, we're doing that every month. Inside Climate News
California just passed a law requiring the carbon emissions per ton of cement produced to be cut by 40% percent below 2019 levels by 2035. It's the first time ever a US state has required specific reductions from an economic sector, and puts it right out at the front of the global effort to decarbonize the cement industry. Canary
The global steel industry is moving far quicker than expected in tackling the challenge of decarbonization. "The steel industry is now at a tipping point. For years, we've watched small pilot projects demonstrate cleaner steelmaking processes, but they weren't really moving the needle. Now it’s different." Canary
The International Council on Mining and Metals, one third of the global mining and metals industry, has committed to net zero direct and indirect carbon emissions by 2050 or sooner. Made up of 28 of the world's biggest mining companies, with 650 sites in over 5o countries, it sends a clear signal on where things are heading for the rest of the industry. Reuters
Two dozen countries have joined a US and EU-led effort to slash methane emissions by 30% by 2030, giving a new 'Global Methane Pledge' momentum ahead of COP26. Nigeria, Japan and Pakistan are among the new signatories to the agreement, which will have a significant impact on reducing global warming. Reuters
Everyone's scrambling to get their commitments in before things kick off in Glasgow. The International Air Transport Association, which groups 290 airlines, including dozens of state carriers, has also committed to net zero by 2050, in a move that ties the sector's climate action to the 2015 Paris accord for the first time ever. Reuters
New York's city council just passed a bill requiring all of the city’s 885 diesel school buses to be converted to fully electric models by 2035. This is in line with the city's recent decision to allow only zero-emission passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to be sold from 2035. We Go Electric
Life comes at you fast when you're a car manufacturer these days. Cars powered by combustion engines now make up less than 10% of sales in Norway, and forecasts suggest the country's last sale of a new petrol or diesel car will come in April 2022, three years ahead of what was already the world's most ambitious target. Like we said: ratchets. Drive
Another week, another Ivy League university ditching fossil fuels. They're falling thick and fast now. This time it's Dartmouth which says that new fossil fuel investments will no longer be allowed in its endowment, and existing holdings will be allowed to expire once their contracts end.
The European Banking Authority says it's seeing clear signs that banks are dropping clients that pose a climate risk, and redirecting capital away from polluting industries. Loans account for two-thirds of the $22 trillion in exposure that the world's biggest financial institutions have to carbon intensive industries. Once they start drying up, things get very ugly for fossil fuels. Bloomberg
In a first for an Indian financial institution, the Federal Bank will not finance any new thermal coal mines or the expansion of existing mines, and has also ruled out support for new coal projects or the expansion of existing ones. This is a big deal: the first major domino in a country where the divestment movement is only just getting started. Mercom
The US government is reinstating environmental protections for three major national monuments ripped away by the Trump administration. The Bears Ears National Monument and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of New England, America's first marine monument, will all have their boundaries restored. NYT
A federal judge has overturned the US Bureau of Land Management’s decision to lease 58,000 acres of public land in western Colorado for oil and gas extraction, agreeing with conservation groups that fracking and drilling will worsen air quality and threaten public health. “This is a huge win for public health and the wild places of Colorado that deserve protection." CBL
Three years ago, Pakistan launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami, a plan to reforest vast swathes of one of the most deforested countries in the world. Critics scoffed, but they're being forced to eat their words: the country is on track to plant 1.5 billion trees by the end of 2021, and is also conducting one of the biggest mangrove restoration projects in the world. Dunya
Pakistan's efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Mongolia, another country suffering from severe desertification, just announced it's going to spend around 1% of its GDP to plant a billion trees by 2030. Montsame
Overfishing in US waters has essentially ended. As of 2017, 85% of US fish stocks were no longer overfished, the highest number since record keeping began, and active overfishing had been eliminated in 91% of stocks. It's not just good news for the planet, but for fishing communities too. “We’re catching bigger fish and getting more bang for our buck." Reasons to be Cheerful
Refugees in Cameroon have planted 360,000 trees around the Minawao Refugee Camp, transforming 100 hectares of desert into thriving forest and vegetation. The ecological and humanitarian win is part of a unique program aimed to restore the area, after the arrival of 70,000 refugees accelerated desertification. When they go home, ‘they will leave behind a greener and more developed village." UNHCR.
France will ban plastic packaging for over 30 fruits and vegetables from January 2022. The measure will save more than one billion tonnes of plastic packaging per year and is part of the government’s program to phase out single use plastic on all produce by 2026. Reuters
California has passed the strictest recycling law in the US, requiring manufacturers to ensure items with the 'chasing arrows' recycling symbol are actually recyclable. The bill also strengthens rules for what can be used in compost to prevent soil contamination, and requires labels to inform consumers what can be composted too. AP
Winemakers in California are using barn owls and other birds of prey as a cost-effective and pesticide-free alternative to eliminate pests. 80% of Californian vineyards, who used to rely on toxic chemicals to protect vines (which impacted other local wildlife) now have barn owl nest boxes. Bay Nature
The population of the critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla has doubled, with current numbers of 6,800 up from 3,800 in 2016. The good news is attributed to conservation in the Oku Community Forests in the Congo, where the population has remained stable thanks to habitat conservation and local community engagement. Mongabay
Consumption of wildlife has dropped by almost 30% across China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and the USA due to shifting cultural tastes and concerns about COVID-19. Governments are also stepping in, with China banning the consumption of wild animals last year and Vietnam also introducing restrictions. Globe Scan
China has pledged US$230 million to support conservation in developing countries, and will create several new national parks of its own, covering 230,000 km2 and protecting nearly 30% of the country’s key terrestrial wildlife species, including pandas, tigers and leopards. Conservation
An ambitious project to create a 50 million tree corridor between Liverpool and Hull in northern England has taken a step forward after the government pledged £15m to the cause. That's enough for a million trees in the next year, on top of the three million already planted as part of the Northern Forest initiative. BBC
A vast area of the Atlantic Ocean off the south west coast of Ireland is to be designated as a marine protected area in an international effort to protect 5 million seabirds across 22 different species. The MPA, known as the North-Atlantic Current and Evlanov Sea Basin, will protect an area of 641 612 km2. Irish Times
18th September 2021 - 1st October 2021
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
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
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
Xi Jinping says 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 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 GeoHere are the highlights:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Nigeria will establish 10 new national parks across the country and create new marine protected areas.
- 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 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
4th September 2021 - 17th September 2021
The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations in Africa has been way too slow, but that's about to change, after the African Union announced it has pooled enough money with the Caribbean to secure 400 million doses of the J&J vaccine - enough to immunize a third of the continent by the end of this year. World Bank
Under India's flagship Jal Jeevan Mission, millions of people have gained access to clean water in the last two years. About 11.2 million, or 38% of all households in disease-vulnerable regions now have access to clean water, up from 2.9% in 2019, and another 11.8 million, 35% of the total, now have running tap water, up from 7.9% in 2019. HT
A massive collaborative effort by religious groups in America is providing newly arrived Afghan refugees with food, clothing, legal assistance and housing. “It’s incredible. It’s an interfaith effort that involved Catholic, Lutheran, Muslim, Jews, Episcopalians ... Hindus ... as well as nonfaith communities who just believe that maybe it’s not a matter of faith, but a matter of who we are as a nation.” AP
US poverty fell to 9.1% last year, the lowest level ever recorded and a significant decline from 11.8% in 2019. Thanks to federal relief enacted at the start of the pandemic, nearly 8.5 million people were lifted out of poverty, and childhood poverty experienced its largest ever one year decrease, dropping from 15.8% to 11.9%. WaPo
There are some amazing stories hidden in the new Gates Foundation report. Last year Benin, where malaria is the leading cause of death, created a new, digitized system for bed nets, distributing 7.6 million across the country in just 20 days. In Pakistan, an emergency cash program provided assistance to over 40% of the population, two-thirds of whom were women, bringing 10 million of them into the formal financial system for the first time (h/t to our friends at The Progress Network for this one).
The number of leprosy cases around the world plummeted last year, with new cases falling by 37% and total cases by 27% compared to 2019. While this is partially due to less reporting as a result of COVID-19, it's in line with longer term trends, especially for children. The proportion of child cases has decreased from 9.2% in 2011 to 7.4% in 2019 and to just 6.8% in 2020. WHO
Malaysian women have won the right to pass citizenship onto their children born overseas, a privilege previously only granted to men. It’s part of a global movement to amend discriminatory citizenship laws that trap women in abusive relationships and deny children access to education and healthcare. CS Monitor
From next year, France will offer free birth control for all women aged 25 and under to target a decline in contraceptive use among young women due to cost. Contraceptive methods are already free in Britain, and Spain offers free birth control pills and subsidizes other forms of contraception. NPR
For the first time ever, half of lawmakers in Mexico’s lower house of Congress are female, and women are set to lead nearly a quarter of the country's states after recent midterm elections. This follows an ambitious reform passed in 2019 for “gender parity in everything." MS
Mexico’s Supreme Court has made it legal for all citizens to choose what happens to their bodies, in a landmark decision to decriminalize abortion. It's a major human rights victory in a country with one of the world’s largest Catholic populations, and a sign of changing attitudes across Latin America, following a similar move by Argentina earlier this year. BBC
The UN has passed a historic resolution to stamp out ritualistic killings in Africa that target children, women, and people with disabilities and albinism. Member states will now be required to develop specific measures to tackle the issue. “This resolution is an important step to stop the horrific, human rights abuses that take place due to beliefs in witchcraft.” East African
A big step forward for LGBTQIA+ rights in Israel after the government lifted restrictions on blood donations by gay men. It follows the United Kingdom and the United States, who have both eased similar restrictions over the past year. AP
Barcelona is giving citizens free, unlimited public transport for three years when they give up their private vehicles. Since the program began in 2017, more than 12,000 ‘T-green tickets’ have been awarded, reducing the city’s traffic by 10,613 cars and 1,735 motorcycles. Eltis
In the past six years, Paris has done more than almost any city in the world to take space back from cars, opening linear parks on old highways along the Seine, phasing out diesel cars, opening bus lanes, raising parking meter prices and plowing bike lanes down hundreds of streets. It's working.
A massive moment for the climate divestment movement, after Harvard, the richest university on earth, announced that it no longer has any direct investments in fossil fuel companies, and that its indirect investments through private equity funds would be allowed to lapse. Congratulations to the activists who fought for this for so many years.
Chubb, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer, is walking away from Canada's Trans Mountain tar sands expansion. It's the 16th insurer to quit the project, a major victory for indigenous communities and environmental activists who've campaigned against it for years. Insurance Business Canada
In the six years since the Paris Agreement was signed, the global pipeline of new coal plants has shrunk dramatically. More than three quarters of planned projects have been shelved, 44 governments have committed to ending coal, and a further 33 have cancelled their pipelines. The remaining pipeline is now spread across just 37 countries, 16 of which have only one project. Carbon Brief
India has the second scariest coal pipeline on the planet: 33 GW under construction and 29 GW in pre-construction. In reality, most of that is a mirage. The plants under construction are destined to be stranded assets, there has been no movement in the 29 GW of pre-construction capacity, and no new coal-fired power plants announced at all in the last 12 months. IEEFA
Greece has historically been one of the most coal-reliant economies in Europe - in 2015, half of all energy was produced from lignite, the dirtiest form of coal. In a shift that would have been inconceivable a few years ago, lignite's share is now down to around 10%, and the country is on track to close its last coal plant by 2025. Money talks. SP Global
Solar installations are booming in France. In 2021 the country has installed more solar than in any other year in history - and that's just from the first six months of the year. Although solar is still only 3.1% of total electricity consumption, this represents a new kind of growth the country has not experienced before. PV
The Phillipines just awarded 928 renewable energy contracts with a combined capacity of 30 GW. This comes off the back of the country's ban on new greenfield coal plants in October last year. “We are proactively pursuing policies and programs that will help us secure a sustainable, competitive energy future for the coming generations." Manila Standard
Illinois, the 18th largest economy in the world, and the fifth largest economy in the US, just passed what it's calling "the most pro-worker, pro-climate legislation in the country." The bill mandates zero emissions from the power sector by 2045, a five fold increase in renewables, and funding for a just transition for communities affected by coal and gas closures. Gizmodo
New York's new governor, Kathy Hochul, has signed a bill into law that will require all passenger vehicles sold in the state to be emissions-free by 2035. The law makes New York the second state after California to announce a phase out date for greenhouse gas emissions in cars and light trucks. The Hill
Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer by volume, and the last big remaining holdout on EVs, is finally coming to the party. It just announced plans to spend $13.5 billion to develop batteries and an accompanying supply system, and will release 70 electric cars globally by 2025, including 15 fully-electric vehicles. Verge
Hyundai will not sell any more more combustion vehicles in Europe after 2035, and in the rest of the world after 2040. their CEO, Jaehoon Chang, is the latest in a long line of industrialists to suddenly develop a conscience. “Climate change is an undeniable challenge that requires the greatest and most urgent attention of all.” Electrive
The first customer ready trucks from Rivian have rolled off the production line at their headquarters in the Prairie State, in a big moment for EV enthusiasts. Forget the F-150 or the Cybertruck; this is the future of the battery electric pickup. If you haven't heard of this company yet, do yourself a favour and check this out.
The population of four endangered tuna species - Atlantic bluefin, Southern bluefin, Albacore and Yellowfin - are all showing signs of recovery thanks to the enforcement of fishing quotas over the past decade. While all those populations are still critically endangered, it shows that regulation and enforcement is capable of turning the tide. Nat Geo
Until ten or fifteen years ago, the vast majority of table eggs were produced in cage systems. Today, that's no longer the case. Thanks to animal activists and shifting consumer tastes, cage-free eggs now represent the majority of eggs produced in the UK, the EU and Australia. The Poultry Site
A welcome conservation victory in our own backyard, with news that the population of the Eastern Barred Bandicoot has jumped from 150 to 1,500 in the past 30 years. It’s the first time the status of an animal in Australia has changed from 'extinct in the wild' to 'endangered.' BBC
The population of Australia's largest wombat species is back from the brink too, after almost being wiped out in the 1980s. ABC
Conservationists in Austin, Texas have won a legal battle to reclaim protected critical habitat for a rare species of salamander to help bolster their population against proposed developments and climate change. The protected areas include an underground aquifer, spring outlets and spring runs. Biological Diversity
Slovakia has passed a new law banning dog owners from keeping dogs on chains. The legislation, the result of years of campaigning by NGOs, will be effective from 1st January 2022 for young dogs, and will come into full effect in 2024. "Despite big compromises, this is a huge victory for animal rights in this country." Slovak Spectator
Western Australia has become the first Australian state to end native forest logging, with a ban effective from the start of 2024. The government will invest $350m to expand softwood timber plantations and $50m to support affected workers and communities. Guardian
A rewilding project in England that reclaimed 128,000 acres of industrial wasteland three decades ago has blossomed from a single tree into what's now known as the National Forest. The forest has created 5,000 new jobs and there are plans to create a new 25-acre wood to remember those who've died during the COVID-19 pandemic. Euro News
A conservation project to save Yorkshire’s peatlands has carried out restoration work on 5,048 ha of blanket bog, and is delivering huge environmental benefits, having already saved 48 million tonnes of carbon from being released. Peat is an unsung hero of conservation, delivering one of most effective forms of natural carbon capture, flood control and ecosystem recovery. The Guardian
In a remarkable feat of eco-engineering, oysters are saving Kutubdia Island in Bangladesh from fast-rising seas. Marine scientists have worked with island locals for nine years to create oyster-encrusted reefs that buffer the coastline from waves and support marine life, pi0neering a new model that may transform coastline management around the world. BBC
One of the world’s largest tyre graveyards, in Kuwait, is being revitalized into a new urban development, thanks to a recycling plant that has started converting the 42 million old tyres into consumer products. The new plant has a capacity of 3 million tyres per year. WEF
The EPA has restored protections to Alaska’s Bristol Bay, blocking construction of a proposed pebble mine near the world’s largest sockeye salmon run. Native communities and commercial fishermen have fought against the mine for decades, which would threaten 200 species of birds, 40 different land animals and all five species of Pacific salmon. Backpacker
20th August 2021 - 3rd September 2021
India and China are hitting new records on daily vaccinations. On Monday, India administered over 10 million doses in a single day, and then followed up on Tuesday with over 12 million. Meanwhile, China is averaging 20 million people per day - a rate that would vaccinate the entire population of the UK in little more than six days.
A new approach to combating malaria has managed to reduce deaths and illness in children by 70%. The trial, conducted in 6,000 children in Burkina Faso and Mali over 17 months, combined a new malaria vaccine with anti-malarial drugs given at a time of year when children are most vulnerable. BBC
48 million people in West Africa were vaccinated against yellow fever in 2020, a significant increase compared to 2019. This was despite a 6-month interruption due to the pandemic - a remarkable achievement made possible by thousands of healthcare workers who figured out a way to make the rollout safe. WHO
In the past two decades, almost every country in sub-Saharan Africa has made gains in female literacy. In 2000, the proportion of women who could read and write was around 46%; today, it's close to 60%. Even more encouragingly, the literacy rate for young women (15-24 yo) has soared to 72%, and is now just below their male peers. Borgen
Incarceration rates in the United States fell to a 24 year low in 2019 - and then plummeted again by 14% in 2020, to 1.8 million people. There are now half a million fewer people in prison in America compared to 13 years ago, thanks to largely unheralded changes in criminal laws, sentencing patterns and a decline in violent crimes. Vera
A state court in North Carolina has ruled that people who were previously incarcerated now have the right to vote. The decision, which takes immediate effect, stands to impact upwards of 55,000 people previously denied access to the franchise. Law & Crime
A collective housing project in Thailand is empowering underprivileged communities by forming co-operatives to negotiate land deals. More than 130,000 households have benefited, and funding for another 1.2 million houses has been made available, including free units for single mums and the elderly. Reuters
Following the legalisation of the drug “Kratom” in Thailand, over 10,000 offenders have been released from prison and their criminal records wiped clean. Kratom leaves contain Mitragynine, a substance that reduces pain and chronic symptoms of diabetes and high blood pressure. Pattaya Mail
Earlier this year, we reported some good news on SDG7: over a billion people have gained access to electricity in the past decade. According to Bloomberg, while some of that was achieved by new power lines, a lot was also achieved by installing small solar systems designed to power villages, farms or single homes. To date, more than 180 million off-grid solar systems have been sold worldwide, and 420 million people now get their electricity from those systems.
A major human rights victory in Somalia’s Puntland region, after the government approved a bill to outlaw female genital mutilation in a country where most girls are still forced to undergo the practice. The bill includes harsh penalties for hospitals, midwives, and traditional circumcisers who perform the barbaric practice. Reuters
There's been a welcome win for democracy in Zambia, with voters peacefully electing a new president for the third time in the country’s history. Despite fears of political unrest, opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema won in a landslide against President Edgar Lungu. All Africa
China just banned written exams for six- and seven-year-olds, as part of sweeping education reforms aimed at relieving pressure in its hyper-competitive school system. Education officials are saying that pressure on pupils from a young age "harms their mental and physical health." China banned written homework for first- and second-graders earlier this year. France24
The US government authorized the PAWS ACT (Puppies Assisting Wounded Service members for Veterans Therapy) authorizing service dogs for veterans with PTSD. The dogs will learn how to shield a veteran from an overwhelming crowd or wake them up if they're having a nightmare. At the end of the program, the veteran trainers will be able adopt their canine pupils. NPR
Switzerland has pledged $12 billion over the next three years to reduce global poverty and increase peacekeeping measures. The ambitious plan will target the refugee crisis and work to stabilise conflict zones where people are forced to flee. Borgen
Medellin, Colombia’s second-largest city has created a large network of “green corridors” across the city to offset rising temperatures. The shady walkways and bike lanes have reduced average temperatures in parts of the city by 2°C since they were built in 2018. Price tag? Just $16.3-million. Japan Times
Three years ago, Spain's government signed an agreement with trade unions and energy companies to shut down its entire coal industry and begin a just transition. The last coal mine is now due to close in December, and coal consumption will end completely by 2030. "We expect that the next year is going to be greener, but it's always greener than we expect. This is exponential."ABC
Norway's sovereign wealth fund - the largest in the world, with over $1.3 trillion in assets, including 1.4% of the world's stocks and shares - just added a new set of environmental criteria to its investment standards, putting serious pressure on natural resource extraction companies, including several of Russia’s energy giants. Barent Observer
The world's largest shipping company, Maersk, just spent $1.4 billion (yes, that's 'billion') on eight new vessels that will be able to run on carbon-neutral fuel. That price tag is 10-15% more expensive than usual, suggesting the company is serious about its carbon neutrality efforts. Long way to go still, but this is an encouraging signal. Reuters
Denmark and Costa Rica are creating an alliance of nations committed to ending both the consumption and production of gas and oil. It's modeled on the Powering Past Coal Alliance, which was formed in 2017 and now boasts 41 members. "This would mark a significant shift in global geopolitics on fossil fuels." Gizmodo
In 2019, the UK became the first country in the world to set a net zero emissions target. Three years later, over 70% of world emissions are now covered by net-zero legislation, have net-zero emissions legislation under discussion, or occur where net-zero is the policy position of the government. Things change slowly... then they change very fast. BNEF
Installations of renewable energy projects in the United States hit a new high in the first six months of 2021. Just over 9.9 GW of onshore and offshore wind, battery storage, and utility-scale solar capacity was added in the first half of the year, a 17% increase over the same period in 2020. Power Mag
Vietnam's gotten the memo. Last year, rooftop solar went from 378 MW to 9.8 GW. The country now boasts the highest installed capacity of solar in Southeast Asia. In the last few months Vietnam has also scrapped plans for 9.5 GW of coal-fired power. None of this is an accident. It's due to well designed feed-in-tariffs, tax incentives and waivers of land leases. VN Express
The Australian government may be in complete denial about climate change, but investors aren't. Total assets under management by ethical investment funds in Australia leapt by 30% last year, and now account for 40 cents of every professionally managed dollar. Meanwhile, half of the top 100 listed companies have committed to net zero targets, up from a fifth a year ago. ReutersAli Allawi, the deputy prime minister and finance minister of Iraq, has made an unprecedented call to fellow oil producers to move away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy, ahead of a key OPEC meeting. "Renewable energy offers the ability to build a cleaner and more efficient electricity sector." Guardian
A joint project by Swedish steel company SSAB, state-owned utility Vattenfall, and mining company LKAB just delivered the world’s first batch of fossil-free steel. The economics don't work yet for this yet, but it's an important milestone on their way to the goal of commercial production in 2026. Forbes
Global EV sales are cranking. Around 2.65 million new cars were bought during the first half of 2021, an increase of 168% over 2020. This hyper-growth needs to be seen relative to a low base from the pandemic, but it's still super impressive. 6.3% of all cars sold globally so far this year have been battery or hybrid vehicles.
The world is officially rid of leaded petrol, after a refinery in Algeria used up the last stockpile in July. Most developed countries banned it in the 80s and 90s, but it took a 20 year campaign by the UN to get rid of it in Africa and the Middle East. It’s estimated elimination will prevent more than 1.2 million deaths annually. Quartz
Little by little, India is restoring its mangroves. After a century of losses, between 1987 and 2019, the country increased net mangrove cover by 93,000 ha, a rise of about 25%. It's one of the largest and most successful mangrove restoration efforts of all time. World Bank
One year after the Great American Outdoors Act was signed, more than $285 million in projects are underway across the national forest system in 40 states, with another 1,000 improvement projects — including campgrounds, trails and visitor centers — in the pipeline. Roll Call
The US EPA has finally banned the use of the pesticide chlorpyrifos on food crops. This was supposed to happen in 2016, but Trump's EPA reversed the decision in one of its many acts of environmental and public health vandalism. It's a long overdue victory, coming after 14 years of pressure from environmental and labour groups. Conversation
Another Trump era ruling has been reversed, which allowed sand mining on beaches protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act. It's a crucial environmental victory that will keep pristine, undeveloped beaches intact, where they provide a home for coastal birds and a buffer against storm surges and rising seas. Audabon
Third time's the charm. A federal judge has thrown out Trump administration approvals, granted in late 2020, for a large planned oil project on Alaska’s North Slope, saying the process was flawed and didn’t include mitigation measures for wildlife. Guardian
Actually, make that four. A federal judge in Arizona has reintroduced protections for waterways and wetlands across the US, reversing the Trump Administration’s rollback of pollution controls. The move, spurred on by local tribes and environmental groups, will ensure clean drinking water for millions of Americans and safe habitat for thousands of wildlife species. WaPo
The US Fish and Wildlife Service has taken the snail darter off the endangered list. Originally declared endangered in 1975 because of dam construction, the small fish is no longer at risk after being transplanted to other rivers, where numbers are increasing. It's the culmination of decades of unsung work by conservation heroes. WaPo
Africa’s largest tropical rainforest, Salonga National Park, has been removed from UNESCO’s list of threatened sites, following 20 years of sustained conservation work and anti-poaching measures. The park plays an important role in climate regulation and is also home to many vulnerable or endangered species, including bonobo monkeys, the bush elephant, and the Congo peacock. Newsweek
Beijing, once known as one of the world's most polluted cities, recorded just ten days of heavy air pollution last year, a drop of nearly 80% since 2015. On good days, residents now speak of 'Beijing blue.' Last month, the city, which is home to 21 million people, recorded its best monthly air quality since records began. CNN
Kenya's Wildlife Service says that for the first time in 21 years, not a single rhinoceros was poached in the country’s national parks in 2020. The agency credits a new strategy that focuses on providing rangers with housing, equipment and support to be able to respond around the clock. VOA
Chinese officials have announced that they no longer consider giant pandas an endangered species. There are now 1,800 giant pandas living in the wild, thanks to a series of conservation initiatives in recent years. Those initiatives have also benefited other species: Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and crested ibises are all seeing population increases too. NPR
The number of beavers in Scotland has more than doubled in the last three years. There are now over 1,000 wild animals in lakes and rivers across Scotland's southern Highlands. Hunted to extinction 400 years ago in the UK, they're now back thanks to illegal re-wilding efforts by environmental activists. BBC
17th June 2021 - 2nd July 2021
A moment of appreciation for a successful, multi-generational effort to eliminate malaria in China. It's the 40th nation in the world to achieve malaria-free status, and the first in the western Pacific region in 30 years. Not bad for a country that used to report 30 million cases per year in the 1940s.
Bangladesh, home to 160 million people, has been heralded a ‘development miracle’ in the Daily Star as it celebrates its 50th year of independence. Since 1991, GDP per capita has increased seven fold, 24 million people have been lifted out of poverty, life expectancy has risen to 73 years, infant and maternal mortality rates have fallen by a factor of five and the literacy rate has increase from 35% to 74%.
A study in The Lancet of 21 low, medium and high income countries has found that there has been no increase in suicide rates and that 12 countries actually recorded a decrease. This good news has been attributed to increased awareness, better access to mental health services, financial relief packages and new connection points within local communities.
Some good news from Tanzania too, which will allow pregnant girls and teen mothers the opportunity to resume secondary education, overturning a 4-year ban, and Saudi Arabia has officially allowed single, divorced or widowed women to live independently in a house without permission from a father or any other male guardian. “An adult woman has the right to choose where to live. Families can no longer file lawsuits against their daughters who choose to live alone.”
In Canada, a welcome win for LGBTQI+ rights with the passage of a historic bill criminalizing conversion therapy. Further south, Connecticut has restored voting rights to people with past convictions, marking a milestone in the push to end criminal disenfranchisement,
In Europe, 33 cities have signed an International Alliance of Safe Harbours Agreement allowing them to take in more refugees rescued at sea, in a bid to distribute the load more evenly away from hotspots in the Mediterranean. In Iran, a set of reforms has been passed to ensure that proper schooling is made available to all migrants, including thousands of undocumented children.
Efforts to force multinational companies to pay their fair share have taken a decisive step forward after the world's largest economies agreed to sweeping changes to the global tax system, setting an international minimum corporate tax rate of at least 15%.
More than 1,800 schools in the Indian state of West Bengal have installed mini-solar plants in the past two years, and there are plans to expand installations by 1,000 schools a year until the number reaches 25,000. Schools have used the savings for tree-planting, additional teachers, computer classes and sanitation upkeep. Reuters
Workers with disabilities in Hawaii will be guaranteed fair wages, after an old labour law that allowed employers to pay them less was given the boot. It's welcome news for the 26,000 people who live in Hawaii with some form of disability. Guardian
In Montana, 18,000 acres of wildlife reserve, known as the National Bison Range, has been formally handed back to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and in Maine, the Passamaquoddy tribe have bought back their ancestral land of Pine Island, with the help of a grant from conservation charities.
Heralded as ‘a law of laws’, the EU has approved landmark legislation to enshrine greenhouse gas emissions targets in law, requiring a 55% reduction by 2030, net zero by 2050, and the creation of a carbon budget for 2030-2050 that meets climate goals. It's a very, very big deal. It comes off the back of a very bad few weeks for fossil fuels, after a Brussels court ruled that Belgium’s failure to meet climate targets is a violation of human rights, and recognized 58,000 citizens as co-plaintiffs. The historic judgement follows similar, recent rulings in the Netherlands, Germany and France.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the first three months of 2021 saw 2.5 Hoover Dams worth of capacity added to the US grid, a 46% increase compared to the same period in 2020. Solar and wind accounted for 99% of all new power generation capacity in Q1. Endgame for coal and gas. That's certainly how Maine sees it, after becoming the first state in the United States to divest from the fossil fuel industry.
The world's industrialists and financiers can certainly smell the blood in the water. Fossil fuels billionaire and Asia's richest man, Mukesh Ambani, is making 'a green pivot' with a $10.1 billion investment into clean energy over the next three years. “I envision a future when our country will be transformed from a large importer of fossil energy to a large exporter of clean solar energy solutions.”
Could his newfound enthusiasm for the fate of the planet have something to do with a new piece of reporting from the Financial Times? According to the latest estimates, the vast majority of new coal-power plants being planned around the world will not make back their upfront costs. Specificially, 92% of facilities proposed or under construction globally would cost more to build than the future cash flow they would generate. Pipelines? More like pipe dreams.
Case in point: since 2014, Chinese companies have financed 52 overseas coal projects, worth a combined $160 billion. It's one of the worst investment decisions of all time. Only one plant has gone into operation, and 33 have been shelved or cancelled, with plenty more still to come. No new projects were announced at all in 2020.
Right on cue, China’s biggest bank has dumped a plan to finance a $3 billion coal-fired power plant in Zimbabwe, Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co has eagerly offloaded its investments into Indonesian coal, and South Korea's three big insurance companies will stop underwriting coal-power projects, thanks in part to some serious people power.
There's more. One of Malaysia's biggest banks, RHB, has announced a coal exit by 2022, in Bangladesh, regulators are scrapping plans for 10 coal-fired power plants in favour of renewable energy (that's another 8GW off the table, k thanks), and North Macedonia and Montenegro have become the first countries in the Western Balkans to announce coal exits, saying they will close their plants by 2027 and 2035 respectively.
Canada has certainly seen the writing on the wall, announcing a ban on the sale of new fuel-burning cars and light-duty trucks from 2035, and there's been a rare bit of good news in our backyard too. In a bid to become the 'Norway of Australia' the state of New South Wales has unveiled a massive $490 million package of new incentives, tax cuts and spending on fast-charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
Volkswagen has announced it will stop making combustion engines in Europe by 2035, Ford and Volvo said they would start all-electric production in Europe by 2030, and Audi has declared that from 2026 it will no longer launch new combustion engine models, not even hybrids. Only pure battery vehicles will be developed. That's five years away.
The entire landmass of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, 3,800 square kilometres of pristine wilderness that you've definitely seen in a nature documentary, will be designated as a protected area, complementing the existing 1.24 million square kilometre marine reserve.
Following the shutdown of coal mining in the Svalbard region of Norway, the government has started cleanup operations and expanded the boundaries of a national park by 2,914 km2 to include the former coal sites. “Our goal is for Svalbard to be one of the best-managed wilderness areas in the world."
In other conservation news, a vast area of breathtaking beauty ranging through Albania, North Macedonia and Kosovo is about to become a national park, creating one of the largest protected areas in Europe.
In New Zealand single-use plastics will be phased out by 2025, with bans on cotton buds, packaging, cutlery, straws, and fruit labels beginning next year. The measures could reduce over 2 billion single-use items from landfill each year.
Gabon has passed new laws to protect the country’s 69 species of sharks and rays. The landmark measures include new laws to fully regulate shark and ray catches, and highlight a new global initiative launched on World Ocean Day to save endangered marine species.
Tanzania is hopeful of reaching a ‘zero-elephant-poaching’ target after making thousands of arrests, including 21 kingpins of the illegal trafficking trade. Since 2014, the elephant population has increased by 17,000, remarkable progress for a country that once had the unenviable status of the world’s elephant killing fields.
In the United Arab Emirates, the population of the endangered Arabian oryx has increased by 22% in four years thanks to a reintroduction program inside the country's largest nature reserve.
A ‘drastic times, drastic measures’ approach has proved successful for two radical conservation experiments on different sides of the globe. In Southwest America, the population of the Mexican wolf has been bolstered by a fostering program which placed captive born pups into wild dens, while in Australia, a ‘headstarting’ method has saved the bridled nailtail wallaby from extinction by giving juveniles a few years in protected areas, before released them back into the wild.
Animal rights activists in China have pulled off an incredible rescue mission, removing 101 moon bears from a bile extraction facility and transporting them over 1,200 km to a rehab centre. It took years of planning, and involved three convoys of nine trucks each, and a dedicated team of vets and carers who will continue to rehabilitate the bears as they settle into their new home.
5th June 2021 - 16th June 2021
The Keystone XL pipeline has been officially terminated, cementing one of the biggest environmental victories of all time. Activists managed to delay the $9 billion, 830,000 barrel per day, Alberta oil sands 'dirty climate bomb' for 12 years, and in the process, give birth to much of the modern climate movement. Take a moment to appreciate this, it's really sweet. Even the most idealistic frontline warriors didn't expect it to end this well.
It's amazing how quickly industrialists seem to develop a conscience when there's a threat to their bottom line. This time, it's Italian automotive giant Fiat that suddenly cares about the fate of the planet, saying it will be an all electric brand by 2030. "This is our greatest project." Indeed. Engadget
The United States has the world's second largest fleet of coal plants, and 80% of them are now either more expensive to continue operating compared to building new wind or solar, or are set to retire in the next four years. If you think the last four years were bad for US coal, the next four are going to make them feel like a cakewalk. Meanwhile, Romania, one of Europe's last remaining coal holdouts, says it will close all of its coal mines by 2032, introduce ecotaxes, discourage the registration of cars older than 15 years and boost scrapping schemes for polluting vehicles, and Canada says it will no longer approve thermal-coal mining projects. C'mon Straya.
Over half a million people in Senegal just gained access to clean electricity after two solar PV plants were switched on, and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a massive $100 million off-grid solar project has been approved to bring power to three northern cities that currently have no connection to the grid. In Spain, renewables produced half of the country's electricity for the first time ever last month, reaching 50.7% of supply, and in Texas, four months after Republicans falsely blamed clean energy for the failure of the electric grid, investors have decided just what the state needs: more clean power. 15GW, the equivalent of Finland's entire electrical capacity, is now under construction or in advanced development, more than double three years ago. Bloomberg
There's been a new update on progress towards SDG7: the number of people without access to electricity has declined from 1.2 billion to 759 million in the past decade, the number connected to mini grids more than doubled during the same time period, and access to clean cooking solutions has grown by 1% annually.
The US government will make $1 billion in grants available to narrow the digital divide, expanding broadband access for Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian communities. Only half of households on tribal lands currently subscribe to a home internet service. The Verge
Your regular reminder that social attitudes can and do change, sometimes in the space of a single generation. Support for same-sex marriage in the United States is now at an all time high of 70%, up from 60% in 2015 when it was legalized, and from 27% in 1996, when Gallup first started asking the question. Hopefully we're also at the beginning of a similar shift in India, with news that Tamil Nadu has become the first Indian state to ban conversion 'therapy’ after an unprecedented and progressive judgment by the Madras High Court last week.
A decades-long effort to infuse mosquitoes with a virus-blocking microbe has culminated in a trial in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, that achieved a 77% reduction in cases and an 86% reduction in people needing hospital care. Not only was the science behind this world class, it's also one of the best examples we've ever seen of community engagement. They had to convince 90% of the community before releasing the mosquitoes, requiring years of meetings, letting people in to see the labs, using Whatsapp for engagement, and employing over 10,000 local volunteers to place the mosquito eggs in people’s backyards. Development specialists take note: this is how to help, not through patronage, but through partnership.
The global effort to eradicate polio just received a major boost with the release of $5 billion in new funding from The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, a public-private partnership by national governments and health groups. Most of it will be spent on vaccinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the last two countries in the world where outbreaks of wild polio still occur. NYT
A coalition of more than 40 groups, ranging from local NGOs to governments to international organizations, has mobilized $43 million for efforts to restore degraded habitats in the Galápagos Islands. The initiative aims to reintroduce 13 extinct species, and help increase the population of 54 threatened species.
Indonesia is home to 7.9 million acres of mangroves, more than any other country. In 2020, the government announced a plan to replant an additional 1.5 million acres by 2024. In the background however, an unsung army of ordinary Indonesians has been toiling for decades to restore these habitats. South Korea also has some big tree planting plans, saying it will plant three billion new trees over the next 30 years after joining the WEF's One Trillion Trees initiative.
A revolutionary new conservation program in southern Ecuador, funded by a small fee on municipality water, has achieved spectacular success, re-wilding 1,500 ha and putting an additional 337,000 ha under conservation. It represents a simple, yet effective model that can be replicated across the world.. In other good news from South America, Chile has passed new legislation, based on recommendations from environmental groups presented back in 2019, that will reduce the country’s plastic waste by more than 23,000 tons per year.
The total value of meat products sold in Germany fell by 4% in 2020 compared to 2019. By contrast, sales of plant-based alternatives skyrocketed by 39%, suggesting there has been a permanent shift in tastes, especially from younger consumers. Furry friends will also be pleased to hear that Israel has become the first country to completely ban the sale of all fur products, including imports and exports. Expect this to be the first in a long list over the next few years.
The critically endangered Polish wolf has recovered to an estimated population of 3,000, a massive leap from the mere 60 in existence in the early 1970s. It's always the same story with these endangered species recoveries: decades of unseen, thankless work from scientists, conservationists and activists.
That's exactly what happened in Bulgaria, which now has a stable population of around 80 griffon vultures, more than 40 years after the birds were declared extinct in the Balkan nation. There are now at least 23 mating pairs, who have been breeding in the wild since 2016.
22nd May 2021 - 4th June 2021
A Black Wednesday for the oil industry, after a triple whammy of historic blows. Exxon Mobil lost a fight with shareholders last week over its reluctance to account for climate change, while Chevron's investors instructed the company to cut its emissions, and a Dutch court ordered Shell to slash emissions by 45% by 2030. “There’s no going back to where things were for oil and natural gas.” Politico
Eight Australian high school students and a Catholic nun may have doomed coal's future, following a court ruling that the federal environment minister has a duty of care to avoid harm to young people from climate change. This is an even bigger deal that the Shell ruling, because Australia is the world's largest exporter of coking coal and the second-largest for thermal coal. Reuters
The world's seven largest advanced economies have agreed to stop international financing of coal projects that emit carbon by the end of this year, and phase out support for all fossil fuels. This announcement leaves China isolated as the lender of last resort for promoters of new international coal projects. ABC
It’s adiós to oil and gas drilling in Spain, following new legislation requiring the complete phase out of fossil fuel production by 2042. Sales of ICE vehicles will be banned by 2040, and 74% of the country’s electricity must be renewable by 2030. Spain joins Denmark, France and Ireland in legislating the EU’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050. Grist
South Korea's $774.1 billion National Pension Service, the third largest pension fund in the world, will cease investments related to the construction of coal-fired power plants at home and abroad. That's the 51st coal exit policy from a financial institution announced this year, a 61% increase over 2020. Pensions & Investments
One fifth of all cars rolling off the production lines in Germany are now hybrid or electric. This is an astonishing change for the fourth largest maker of cars in the world - manufacturers are now producing 74,000 EVs a month, and Volkswagen is now the third largest EV maker in the world after Tesla and Renault-Nissan. The Driven
A new report from the WHO says there were 1.5 million new HIV infections in 2020, a decline of 30% since 2010, and the lowest total number since 1990. The UN's 90-90-90 targets are inching closer: 81% of people living with HIV know their status, 67% are receiving ARVs (up from 20% in 2010), 59% have suppressed viral loads, and 85% of pregnant women are receiving ARVs. Mirage
The same report says that 9.4 million people around the world are now receiving treatment for Hepatitis C, an almost 10-fold increase from the baseline of one million at the end of 2015. This scale-up of treatment has been sufficient to reverse the global trend of increasing mortality from Hepatitis C for the first time ever. ReliefWeb
The US government has put an end to the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols — known as the "Remain in Mexico" program, requiring asylum seekers to return to Mexico until their court dates in the United States. Advocates are calling it a “huge victory” that will save thousands of innocent people from squalid conditions and extortion, sexual assault, and kidnapping. Common Dreams
Ecuador has become the latest country in Latin America to be swept up in the 'green wave' abortion rights movement, following a ruling by the country's Constitutional Court decriminalizing abortion in cases of rape. “Never again will women be threatened with jail time, preventing them from making decisions about their reproductive life." Al Jazeera
Prisons across America are being repurposed into homeless shelters, educational farms, and even movie studios as years of declining crime rates force prison closures. Thanks to alternative penalties for non-violent crimes, the number of people incarcerated in the United States in 2020 plummeted by 1.7 million from 2019. AP
The US government has suspended all drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, one of the country's largest tracts of untouched wilderness, and home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. It's a big win for environmental groups and First Nations people who have campaigned to stop drilling for decades. NYT
Six years after the toxic haze crisis, the Indonesian government has restored more than 2 million hectares of damaged, carbon-rich peatlands and enhanced protection of the country's mangroves. The policy reset was driven by environmentalists who demanded action to curb fires, and last year, the country achieved its fourth consecutive year of decline in deforestation. Reuters
Glasgow has given the green light to a plan to create a massive urban forest consisting of 18 million trees in and around the city over the next 10 years. The Clyde Climate Forest will be planted in streets, former industrial or mining areas, as well as in the countryside and on the edges of farming land, increasing forest cover in the area from 17% to 20%. BBC
60 organizations, including Coles, Woolworths, Nestle and Coca-Cola have signed an ANZPAC plastics pact, that will make all plastic packaging in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. This landmark intervention comes after three years of negotiations and will drastically reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill and the ocean each year. ABC
The population of the critically endangered Saiga antelope in Kazakhstan has more than doubled to 842,000 since 2019. It’s a massive rebound for a species that made international headlines in 2015 after 200,000 animals died from a nasal bacterium spread in unusually warm weather. France24
The Florida panther has rebounded from a population of 20 to 200 in three decades. The long road to recovery began in 1995 with legislation for a genetic restoration plan, and just received another big boost from lawmakers with $100 million for land conversation and to build highway underpasses along migration corridors. NPR
1st May 2021 - 21st May 2021
A new paper in The Lancet has shown that de-worming initiatives in sub-Saharan Africa in the last two decades have resulted in a significant decline in cases among children, from 44% in 2000 to 13% in 2018. This is a huge win for one of the world's most underrated public health problems, improving the lives of millions of people and driving economic development.
Japan will be smoke-free within the next decade, following the announcement by tobacco giant Phillip Morris that it will phase-out conventional cigarettes. That's a pretty big deal for a country that has until very recently been considered a ‘smoker’s paradise’ and an outlier among OECD nations for cigarette use. Channel News Asia
A massive, bipartisan clean water infrastructure bill has been approved 89-2 by the US Senate. The legislation will improve water quality, remove lead pipes from schools, and update infrastructure for the impacts of extreme weather and climate change. 40% of the funds will target underserved, rural, and tribal communities. Grist
Stunting is when a child is too short for their age, and is one of the most important indicators of chronic or recurrent malnutrition. According to new data from the WHO, between 2010 and 2020, the prevalence of stunting in children under 5 fell from 27.7% to 22%. That means there are now around 30 million fewer children affected compared to a decade ago. Progress is slow, and it almost never makes headlines.
Another step forward for transgender rights in America with Utah's Supreme Court overturning a district judge’s decision to deny two transgender people the right to change their birth certificates. The ruling comes after a three year deliberation and creates an important precedent not just for the state, but the country as a whole. LGTBQ Nation
Earlier this year, Colombia granted millions of Venezuelan refugees legal status, allowing them to work and access healthcare and education. Three months later, the government has spent $187 million on providing migrant healthcare, and about half a million migrant children are attending public schools. "We gave Venezuelan migrants a license to dream." BBC
There's been so much good news on the clean energy front in the past few weeks, we don't even know where to start. Let's kick off with "oil and gas are now junk investments" according to some head-in-the-clouds, granola loving climate activist, oh wait it's *checks notes* the head of the International Energy Agency, Faith Birol. Sky News
The IEA's new Net Zero by 2050 report says that, after 250 years, humanity should now stop exploring for oil, gas, and coal. It's arguably as big a moment as the Paris Agreement; in one stroke, it completely wipes out the fossil fuel industry's last remaining justifications for new capacity. People throw around the word 'turning point' a lot but this really is one. New Yorker
The hits keep on coming. The IEA says last year's record surge in renewables is the 'new normal', and that 90% of all new energy built in 2021 and 2022 will be clean. Keep in mind, this is from an organization that was founded explicitly to promote coal, oil and gas. Welcome to an energy revolution driven not by altruism, or politics, but by the cold-blooded logic of the marketplace. Independent
Another crunchy greenie, Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell, has just announced that half of the oil giant's energy mix will be clean somewhere in the next decade. HALF. “If we do not make that type of process by the middle of this decade, we have a problem not just as a company but as a society." Bloody hippy. Bloomberg
The Sines coal plant in Portugal has been shut down nine years ahead of schedule, reducing the country’s carbon emissions by 12%. A second and final plant is due to close in November which will make Portugal the fourth European country to eliminate coal, following in the footsteps of Belgium (2016), Austria (2020) and Sweden (2020). Beyond Coal
The US EPA has proposed a new rule that will phase-out the production and use of HFCs by 85% over the next 15 years, saving nearly $284 billion and preventing the equivalent of 187 million tons of CO2 emissions, roughly equal to the annual emissions of one in seven vehicles registered in the United States. AP
Electric car sales boomed by 40% in 2020, with Europe officially overtaking China, spurred on by subsidies and tighter fuel standards. Growth looks set to continue, with sales in the first quarter of 2021 more than doubling from the same period in 2020. There are now around 10 million EVs on the world's roads, plus about another one million vans, trucks and buses. Independent
Ford has unveiled its new electric pickup truck, the F-150 Lightning. Its petrol-powered counterpart, the F-150, is the biggest selling pickup truck in the United States. This thing is aimed squarely at the same customers. 360 km of range, 3.5 tonnes of towing capacity, 11 charging ports for your power tools, three days of backup electricity you can plug into your house. Price? $40,000. Verge
Animal rights activists in the UK have won a major victory with a landmark reform that legally recognizes animals as sentient beings. A range of new government measures will ban most live animal exports, the importation of hunting trophies like ivory and shark fins, and target puppy theft. The government has also pledged to uphold animal welfare in future trade deals. Guardian
A philanthropist in South Carolina has gifted 7,500 acres of highlands to conservation groups in the largest private land donation in the state’s history. The area is home to numerous threatened and endangered plant and animal species and includes the largest American Chestnut restoration project in the country. ABC13
Lawmakers in Florida have put their money where their mouth is, committing $100 million to preserve environmentally sensitive lands after passing legislation to preserve the migration paths for animals like the endangered Florida panther. It is the state's most significant spending on land conservation since 2014. WUSF
A major clean-up of New Zealand’s Kaipara Harbour begins this month, with community groups, landowners and local government working together to restore the water health of the 602,000 hectare catchment. 20 million native trees will be planted around the erosion-prone land to stop sediment running into the harbour. RNZ
Government incentives for pesticide free, wildlife-friendly farming in the UK have helped save Britain’s rarest butterfly, the Duke of Burgundy, from near extinction. The population has soared by 25% over the past decade with one of the largest colonies found on an organic dairy farm in Dorset. Guardian
The US government has ramped up its protection of endangered humpback whales, declaring 300,000 km² of the Pacific Ocean as critical habitat. It’s a big win for conservationists who sued the federal government in 2018 over its failure to designate protected areas, which are proven to double the chance of species’ recovery. WAN
A crackdown on rhino poaching in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe has paid off with the number of rhinos poached dropping by 1,319 between 2015-2020. The sharp decline is thanks to tougher legislation, enforcement, and more sophisticated investigations. Conservationists have also switched tactics, empowering communities to become rhino custodians. Geographical
The population of Vietnam’s critically endangered monkey, the Delacour’s Langur, has quadrupled in the past 20 years thanks to the combined efforts of a German primatologist and local communities. Their collaboration resulted in the Van Long Nature Reserve established in 2001 to prevent habitat loss and poaching. Mongabay
Since 2010, almost 21 million km2 has been added to the world’s network of national parks and conservation areas, an area greater than the land mass of Russia. That means about 17% of land and inland water ecosystems and 8% of marine areas are now within formal protected areas, with the total coverage increasing by 42% in the last decade. Protected Planet
10th April 2021 - 30th April 2021
The Gambia has become the third African country to eliminate trachoma. It's an extraordinary achievement: in the mid-1980s, trachoma was responsible for almost 1 out of 5 cases of blindness. Behind it lies three decades of hard work by community volunteers, who played a crucial role in raising awareness and promoting behaviour change. Read their stories here.
After nearly a century, an effective malaria vaccine may finally be within reach after trials of a vaccine from Oxford recorded 77% efficacy in 450 children in Burkina Faso. Larger trials are now underway - if the vaccine gets through those, it will represent one of the biggest public health breakthroughs of all time. Guardian
Afghanistan has passed a new law that will, for the first time, include mothers’ names on their children’s birth certificates and ID cards. It's a major victory for women’s rights activists, who for several years have campaigned for both parents to be named under the social media hashtag #WhereIsMyName. It's especially significant for women who are widowed, divorced, separated, or dealing with abusive partners. HRW
The participation of women in the labour force in Saudi Arabia has surged by 64% in the last two years, thanks to recent reforms allowing women to drive, and changes to labour laws. Reminder - equal access to employment opportunities is one of the most important drivers for progress in human rights. Brookings
Nigeria has kicked off its largest electrification project ever, with an ambitious initiative that will give 25 million Nigerians access to cheap solar power. Access to affordable energy is a big part of the government’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan. The rollout will begin with communities who are off the national power grid and eventually cover all 36 states. ESI
Ethiopia’s rapid economic growth over the past 15 years has resulted in poverty declining from 39% in 2004 to 19% in 2020. Growth has come from the transition from an agriculture-led to a service-led economy (services overtook agriculture in GDP in 2016) and the government is now targeting a poverty rate of 7% by 2030. IFS
A school feeding program in Venezuela has started providing daily meals to 185,000 children in areas where food shortages are most severe. The program is a major step forward in tackling increasing malnutrition rates and there are plans to expand the operation to reach 1.5 million students over the next two years. Reuters
The US government has launched the most ambitious food assistance program in the country's history to help the 25 million Americans who don’t have enough to eat. The campaign has increased food stamps by more than $1 billion a month and has expanded the produce allowance for pregnant women and children. NYT
Prostitution will no longer be prosecuted in Manhattan and thousands of cases, dating back decades, may also be dismissed. The reform is part of a growing national movement to change how the criminal justice system deals with sex workers. NYT
New Mexico has become the 16th US state to legalize recreational marijuana with retail sales to begin by April 2022. A legal cannabis industry could spawn a $318 million market and create over 11,000 jobs for one of America's poorer states. The reform will also clear the record for many people with past marijuana convictions. BI
Investors are fleeing from fossil fuels, with the value of share offerings in coal, oil and gas companies plummeting by $123 billion in the last decade. Clean energy IPOs also overtook carbon-heavy flotations for the first time in 2020 with renewables raising a record $11 billion from public equity offerings. Carbon Tracker
Big news from Europe: Poland, the continent's last major holdout on coal, has announced an agreement between the government and unions to phase out coal production by 2049. That's the first time the country's powerful mining sector has agreed to reduce its presence, finally admitting that the writing is now on the wall. DW
Electric cars in Germany, Europe’s largest auto market and the fourth largest in the world, accounted for 13.5% of sales last year - a significant jump from 2019’s overall share of 3%. With Volkswagen's ID.4 now rolling off the production lines, analysts expect that share to climb to over 25% by the end of 2021. Clean Technica
The Biden administration has become the last of the big carbon emitters to ramp up its climate goals, with a game-changing commitment to halving carbon emissions by 2030. This is a huge deal, kickstarting a decade of transformative industrial change. Here's what we're looking at over the next ten years. NYT
⚡ >50% of electricity from renewable energy (+20% from today).
💨 CO2 released from new natural gas plants to be captured and buried.
🛑 All 200 remaining coal plants shut down.
🚙 2/3 of new cars and SUVs sold to be battery-powered (+97% from today).
🏢 All new buildings heated by electricity instead of natural gas.
🏗 Cement, steel, and chemical industries adopting strict new energy-efficiency targets.
🛢 Oil and gas producers slashing methane emissions by 60%.
🌲 Expanding regenerative forestry and agricultural practices to pull 20% more CO2 from the air than today.
An inspiring collaboration in British Colombia between an Indigenous community, lawmakers and a mining company has permanently saved the eastern slopes of Mount Edziza from mining development. The agreement closes the book on any industrial activity in the area which is of great ecological and cultural importance. Narwhal
After nearly 20 years of negotiations, the Peruvian government has established the 10,000 km² Yavarí Tapiche Reserve for uncontacted peoples deep in the Amazon rainforest. “This constitutes a historic milestone in the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples in a situation of isolation and initial contact.” Mongabay
The Australian government has committed $100 million to ocean conservation, in an effort to protect ‘blue carbon’ environments. The funding will go towards ocean management and methods to draw down carbon with seagrass and mangroves. An additional $11.6m will be spent to establish nine Indigenous protected areas in sea country. West Australian
Conservationists have banded together to save one of the world’s most pristine rainforests from deforestation, purchasing a 950 km2 biodiversity hotspot and wildlife corridor at the intersection of Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. The corridor secures the largest contiguous block of forest in Central America, home to five species of wild cat (jaguars, margay, ocelot, jaguarundi and puma), spider monkeys, howler monkeys and hundreds of bird species. The Nature Conservancy
Good news for turtles in North Cyprus with nest counts of green turtles increasing by 162% and loggerhead turtles by 46% since 1993. Local conservation efforts began in 1983, with volunteers and scientists working tirelessly every nesting season to keep the nests safe from local predators and plastic waste. Mongabay
A four-year seagrass restoration project in the UK is now underway, hoping to turn the tide for local ecosystems impacted by pollution and dredging. The scheme will plant eight hectares of biodiverse-rich seagrass meadows off the south coast, providing safe habitat for an estimated 160,000 fish, including seahorses, and 200 million invertebrates. Positive News
Lehua Island in Hawaii and Redonda Isle in the Caribbean are both rodent-free after years of conservation efforts. Rats threatened wildlife and endangered species on both islands, but since their removal, signs of recovery to ecosystems, vegetation and wildlife populations have been almost immediate.
20th March 2021 - 9th April 2021
Côte d'Ivoire has become the second African country to successfully eliminate sleeping sickness. The public health milestone comes after 20 years of targeted screening and treatment programs in remote rural communities. Annual cases have decreased by more than 90% since the 1990s and the country will now shift focus to maintenance and keeping the disease out. WHO
There was a 50% decline in global cases of Guinea Worm in 2020, and a 20% decrease in animal infections. It's thanks to local communities who have monitored infections and protected water sources from contamination. 199 countries have now been certified as completely free of the disease. Carter Centre
Liberia has become the first African country to introduce the typhoid conjugate vaccine. More than 1.9 million children will receive the vaccine over the next few weeks, and once the campaign is done, the country will begin regular immunizations for all children at the age of 9 months. Coalition Against Typhoid
Kazakhstan is officially nuclear free, after scientists ground down the last 2.9 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, rendering it useless for bomb-making. The historic moment comes after 30 years of denuclearization, and remains one of the least celebrated, yet most successful examples of post-Cold War diplomacy. Atlantic
Suicides in the United States decreased by 5.6% in 2020, easing fears that lockdowns would drive the rate up. It's the third consecutive year that suicide rates have declined, amidst growing awareness of mental health problems, and an expanding range of support and crisis intervention services. Washington Post
France has taken a major step forward in protecting children against sexual abuse by setting the minimum age of sexual consent at 15. The new legislation follows years of campaigning by abuse survivors to bring France’s consent laws in line with most other western countries. Sex with minors under 15 will now be punishable by up to 20 years in prison. France24
Low-level, non-violent crimes will no longer be prosecuted in Baltimore. The city temporarily suspended prosecution of drug possession, prostitution and misdemeanours to limit the spread of COVID-19 in jail, but after recording a 36% drop in property crimes, a 20% decline in violent crimes and a 39% decrease in the people entering the criminal justice system, officials have made the measures permanent. NBC
New York has become the 15th US state to legalize recreational marijuana. The state will immediately start expunging the criminal records of individuals with past marijuana-related convictions, and law enforcement in the state won’t be able to arrest or prosecute individuals for possession of marijuana up to three ounces. NBC
A year after passing its historic law to decriminalize abortion, New Zealand has passed legislation for paid bereavement for miscarriage. The new bill gives women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave and will also apply to parents planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy. ABC
Canada is on track to halve domestic poverty by 2030. Thanks to strong public policy, rates of both poverty and income inequality have fallen consistently since 2015, and the number of children below the poverty line has plummeted from 1.1 million to 680,000. Although the pandemic caused major economic disruption, government interventions have helped continue the downward trend. The Tyee
Economic growth and fossil fuels go hand in hand right? Maybe not. Since 2005, 32 countries with populations of over one million people have decoupled emissions from GDP, both for terrestrial emissions (within national borders) and consumption emissions (goods consumed in a country). Breakthrough
In a massive turnaround, Saudi Arabia, one of the world's leading oil producers, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 60%, increase the percentage of protected land to more than 30%, and plant 50 billion trees as part of the world’s biggest afforestation project. Arab News
The Biden Administration has designated a vast swathe of ocean between Long Island and the New Jersey coast as an offshore wind energy zone, in a move that will create over 6,000 permanent jobs. The government has set a target to create 30 GW of wind turbines along both coasts, capable of powering enough electricity for 10 million American homes for a year. NPR
Massachusetts has passed one of America’s most ambitious climate bills, outlining a clear path to net-zero by 2050. The Bay State will add gigawatts of offshore wind power, require cities and towns to adopt a net-zero building code, and set targets for electric vehicles, charging stations, and energy storage. The new law also codifies environmental justice policy, which to this point has been limited to executive orders and other regulatory decisions. Ars Technica
Thanks to progressive policies over the past 24 years, California has clocked up a 78% reduction in diesel particulate pollution, the toxic black stuff from car exhausts. Cleaner air has benefited public health, with 82% fewer deaths from heart and lung disease. Amazing progress, especially considering that California has more cars than any other state as well as the USA's two largest ports. Gizmodo
The US EPA is taking a tough new stance on approving new chemicals, bringing requirements into line with the Toxic Substances Control Act. Environmental groups have welcomed the changes. “By taking this step, EPA will reverse the illegal and unprotective approach the prior administration applied to hundreds of new chemicals over the last several years.”
The Mi’kmaq First Nations people of Nova Scotia have reclaimed their native fishing rights after becoming majority owners in one of the largest seafood businesses in North America. The landmark deal is part of a growing movement of indigenous people regaining control of their traditional food ways to restore the crucial marine and land habitats that have nourished their tribes for centuries.
A federal court in Alaska has rejected approval for offshore oil and gas activities due to potential noise pollution that would cause harm to the critically endangered Cook Inlet beluga whales. The court ruled that National Marine Fisheries Service failed to consider the direct impact when it approved activity in the area. WAN
In a quiet victory for animal welfare, 70 million hens have been raised cage-free in America over the past six years, as the use of battery cages rapidly declines. For over 15 years advocates have tirelessly campaigned against the inhumane practice, successfully shifting legislation and consumer trends. Progress continues, with Utah recently becoming the eighth state to ban battery cages. Vox
Animal rights activists are celebrating four wins in 48 hours with US federal rulings against trophy hunting, state-funded wildlife killing experiments, cage confinement, and a historic ban on fur. The victories come after decades of advocacy and reflect a turning tide against animal cruelty. Humane Society
The endangered Californian condor is returning to its home skies after nearly a century thanks to the efforts of the Yurok Tribe. After a decade of petitioning, the tribe has commenced building an approved captive breeding facility, with the first condors expected to arrive later this year. It follows the success of reintroduction programs in south and central California that have seen the free flying population increase to over 300 in the past 40 years. Guardian
The bald eagle has quadrupled its population in the past decade with more than 300,000 birds soaring across American skies. The recovery is a testament to the relentless work of scientists and conservationists who fought to ban pesticides and put the eagle on the endangered species list in 40 states. AP
In response to a decade of work by conservationists, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has set aside 593 km of rivers in Virgina and West Virgina as protected habitat for the candy darter (a small, brightly colored fish) and 510 km in North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland for the yellow lance freshwater mussel.
The coronavirus pandemic has been great for whales. Not only did it help end commercial hunting, it also reduced underwater noise pollution, leaving whales free to communicate with one another and locate food without interruption. Ocean scientists are racing to collect data and hope this rare silence gives whales a chance to return to their natural behaviours and have more complex conversations. NBC
13th March 2021 - 19th March 2021
Mexican women with disabilities will have equal access to protection from domestic violence after the Senate amended the current law to include disability as one of the elements courts must assess when granting protection. The reform is a crucial step forward for women with disabilities who are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence. OWP
A court in Pakistan has abolished the outdated practice of virginity tests on rape victims after human rights activists filed a lawsuit in the eastern city of Lahore. Activists have called it “landmark judgment” against a “demeaning and absurd” practice that will help improve the investigative and judicial process for victims of sexual violence. The judgement could also pave the way for further bans of the practice in other areas of Pakistan. NYT (right click and open in 'incognito mode')
Lebanon has criminalized sexual harassment with a landmark law that penalizes perpetrators with four years in prison and up to 50 times the minimum wage. The new law expands the definition of sexual harassment to “any recurring bad behaviour that is out of the ordinary, unwanted by the victim” and includes electronic harassment. It’s hoped the harsher penalties will serve as a deterrent and lead to broader cultural change. JPost
A court in Japan, the only G7 nation that still doesn't recognize gay marriage, has boosted the campaign to legalize it, after deciding it was ‘unconstitutional’ to deny same-sex couples the right to wed. Judges ruled the government's lack of recognition for three same-sex couples suing for psychological harm was in breach of a section of the constitution that requires equal laws for everyone. Guardian
Nine girls, aged between 7-14, have made legal history in Ecuador after suing the government over the pollution and climate impacts of oil industry flaring in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The court ruled in favour of the girls, who demanded an immediate end to all gas flares in their villages. The judges also noted that eliminating flaring would cut Ecuador’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 24%. Mongabay
It's official. Renewable energy generated more electricity than fossil fuels in Europe in 2020. Investments into solar and wind resulted in renewables accounting for 38% of the continent's electricity, taking a narrow lead over fossil fuels which generated 37%. This is incredible progress; a decade ago, renewables accounted for just over 20% of electricity. Forbes
Four big financial blows to coal this week. Swiss Re closed a major loophole in the reinsurance market, announcing the end of support for thermal coal by 2040; Citigroup became the first major US bank to rule out supporting plans for coal plant expansions by new clients; French insurance giant Axa will end its insurance policies with the German utility RWE; and HSBC will allow a resolution on exiting thermal coal to be put to shareholders at its forthcoming annual general meeting.
The IEA - arguably the most conservative energy body in the world - says that the global demand for gasoline has peaked, and is unlikely to return to pre-pandemic levels as efficiency gains and the shift to electric vehicles eclipse mobility growth in the developing world. Their forecast predicts that 60 million electric vehicles will be on roads by 2026, compared with 7.2 million in 2019. WSJ
Electric shockwaves continue to roil automakers around the world. This week, there were announcements from both Audi and Daimler-Mercedes that they will cease development of new combustion engines and adapt their existing engines to meet the EU’s strict emission guidelines. “In terms of products, there is no longer any rational reason to opt for a combustion engine in the near future”.
Thanks to an update by the EPA, coal plants in 12 US states will be required to reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions, a major component of smog. It’s a big win for millions of people in downwind states exposed to dangerous air pollution blowing across their boundaries from upwind coal-fired power plants. The ruling is effective immediately. EDF
The Magpie River in Canada has been declared a living entity and granted legal rights after local environmental groups campaigned for permanent protection. 14 countries now have rivers and ecosystems have won protection with 'nature rights.' The growing global movement challenges the way western legal systems treat nature as property and is being implemented through laws, judicial decisions, constitutional amendments and United Nations resolutions. Reuters
Virginia has become the fourth state in America to ban cosmetic animal testing and the sale of animal-tested cosmetics. California, Nevada and Illinois have also signed the Humane Cosmetics Act and hope to reintroduce federal legislation to make the ban standard across the country. 40 countries have now passed laws prohibiting or limiting cosmetic animal testing. Totally Vegan Buzz
6th March 2021 - 12th March 2021
Hungary will close its last coal plant in 2025, halving the time of its original plan to reach 90% carbon neutral electricity generation by 2030. The Matra power plant site will transition to a solar farm, replacing coal jobs with new opportunities for workers, who will also receive support from the EU’s transition fund. Seven European countries now have coal free 2025 targets. Euractiv
The Canadian government has committed $2.75 billion to help public transit and school buses transition to electric power over the next five years. It’s part of the government’s progressive plan to tackle climate change while creating new jobs in Canada’s growing electric van manufacturing industry. Funds will also be provided for the installation of new charging stations for zero-emission vehicles. Electrek
Infant mortality rates in the Philippines have dropped by 80% since the 1950s and are continuing to decline thanks to new regulations that allow hospital births to include traditional birth practices crucial to Filipino culture. Women who give birth in hospital can choose to have a traditional birth attendant help with delivery while also having access to necessary medicine. Borgen
Egypt used to have one of the highest hepatitis C burdens in the world - in 2015 it accounted for 40,000 deaths per year, 7.6% of all deaths—and depressed national GDP growth by 1.5%. Three years ago, the government started a huge public health effort, screening 67 million people, and providing free treatment for two million. It worked. This year the hepatitis C burden has fallen to 2%, and public health officials say they are on track to eliminate it altogether. Egypt Today
Australian researchers have found that the annual rates of new cases of adults diagnosed with type 2 diabetes is stable or falling in Australia, Europe, the United States, and a number of high income countries in Asia. The study is the first to focus on diabetes incidence, the number of people who develop type 2 diabetes each year rather than total number of people who suffer from the disease at any given time. Baker
A new study has shown that cancer deaths in Europe have plummeted in the last three decades. Compared to the peak mortality rate, recorded in 1988, 4.9 million cancer deaths will have been averted in the EU and over one million in the UK by the end of 2021. Predicted death rate declines between 2015 and 2021 include:
- 7.8% decline for breast cancer
- 4.8% decline for colorectal cancer in men and a 9.6% decline in women
- 8.7% decline for prostate cancer
- 3.5% decline for uterine cancer
- 8.9% decline for ovarian cancer
- 14.1% decline for stomach cancer in men and a 16.3% decline in women.
China has doubled the number of wild animals protected under its conservation rules, imposing hefty fines on the trading and consumption of 500 species, including many birds and wolves. It comes after 30 years of Chinese environmental groups fighting for animals to be added to the protected list. It’s hoped the ban will also help combat global trafficking of wild animals. Eco Business
An undercover investigation by a non-profit media organization has forced South Korea's largest dog meat auction house to close. The closure follows a wider crackdown on dog meat farming across the country, with advocates now calling for an amendment to the country’s Animal Protection Act that would permanently ban all slaughtering and processing of dogs for food. World Animal News
A federal judge has banned future oil and gas development in Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. It’s a big win for conservation groups who fought a three year legal battle to protect the 40,000 acres of Ohio’s only national park. It’s a trend that looks set to continue after President Biden’s recent moratorium on new oil and gas leasing on federal public lands. Biological Diversity
Nothing restores a river or a local economy like removing a dam. River restoration practitioners in America worked around challenging COVID restrictions to remove 69 dams across 23 states in 2020, reconnecting over a 1,000 km of river for fish and wildlife and revitalizing local economies. American Rivers
An Alaskan archipelago dubbed the "Rat Islands" have become a shining example of how quickly nature can bounce back. 18th century shipwrecks introduced rats to the islands, almost destroying their fauna and flora, but in 2008 conservationists started a removal program on one of them, Hawadax Island, and within 11 years the ecosystem had fully recovered. "We were surprised that the level of recovery unfolded so quickly -- we thought it would be longer." Science Daily
27th February 2021 - 5th March 2021
El Salvador has become the first country in Central America to be certified malaria-free. It's a fantastic achievement, given the country's dense population and a geography that's especially hospitable to the disease. Globally, 38 countries have now reached this milestone, with El Salvador the third country in the Americas, following Argentina in 2019 and Paraguay in 2018. Global Fund
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health experts warned that malaria deaths in Africa could double. They were wrong. Instead, around 160 million nets were distributed door-to-door in 2020, over 90% of planned distribution, and more children received antimalarial medicines than in any other year in history. Naturally, this incredible story has received blanket coverage from the world's media. Devex
China has banned schoolteachers from giving out any punishment that can result in physical or mental trauma, after a wave of complaints about student deaths linked to harsh discipline in schools. A new law prohibiting corporal punishment at home is also due to be taken up by China's top legislative body, the National People's Congress, as it meets this week. Channel News Asia
The Biden administration has racked up more wins for the LGBT community during its first month in office than any other has accomplished in an entire term. In addition to a series of historic executive orders and amendments to combat discrimination, 11% of the administration identify as LGBT, some in very senior positions. This is genuine progress - consider that 50 years ago, LGBT people were barred from serving in the federal government. Philadelphia Gay News
Morocco is on the cusp of legalizing medical marijuana, after the PJD party, the largest in parliament, dropped opposition in the wake of the UN's decision last year to remove cannabis from its most tightly controlled category of drugs. The move aims to improve farmers’ incomes, protect them from drug traffickers, and gain access to the booming legal international market for the drug. Reuters
Climate activists have forced Drax, one of the UKs biggest coal plant operators, to ditch its plan to build Europe’s largest gas power plant. It comes after three years of fierce opposition from environmental groups who claimed the project was incompatible with the UK’s climate change laws. The company has also promised to end the commercial sales of coal-fired electricity from next month. Guardian
Beyond Meats has signed an agreement with McDonald’s, the largest fast food company in the world, to develop a plant-based burger, as well as options for chicken, pork and egg. This is by far the biggest market signal yet for plant-based meats. “When these restaurant chains move, the entire food industry takes notice." New Food Magazine
Speaking of market signals... this week it's Volvo joining the growing list of manufacturers racing to switch to zero-emission models, with an announcement that its entire car line-up will be fully electric by 2030. After previously committing to half of sales becoming electric by 2025, Volvo has now accelerated its strategy to line up with the UK’s 2030 ban on internal combustion engine sales. Reuters
One more signal, just for luck. Petaluma, California has become the first city in the United States to ban all new petrol stations in an effort to curb carbon emissions. The city council voted unanimously this week to prohibit the creation, expansion, reconstruction and relocation of gas stations, encouraging owners to transition to electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles instead. San Francisco Chronicle
The Maldives has kicked off the first phase of an ambitious plan to completely eliminate single-use plastics by 2023, with an import ban on plastic bags, straws, foam lunch boxes, cotton swabs, and small toiletry bottles coming into effect this June. It’s hoped the measure will negate plastic's harmful and unnecessary impact on the Maldives’ vulnerable marine environment. Raajje
Off the coast of Puglia, Italy, a marine reserve called Torre Guaceto has achieved such spectacular success in restoring degraded fish populations that fishermen in nearby towns have started pleading with authorities to enlarge its borders. This amazing story, of how one small stretch of coastline went from a hotbed of drug smuggling to a model of ecological restoration, shows what's possible when nature is given just a tiny bit of space to breathe. Do yourself a favour and read it. Yes
20th February 2021 - 26th February 2021
In China, coal-fired power plants fell to less than half the country's total power capacity last year, and look set to fall by a further 3% in 2021. This is big news. China is the world's largest emitter of carbon and by far the largest producer and consumer of coal. Meanwhile, 61.7% of new energy investments were spent on wind, solar and biomass, 20.5% on hydro and 7.2% on nuclear. SCMP
In the United States, the world's second largest emitter of carbon, renewable energy generated one-fifth of all electricity in 2020. After a record year for installations of both wind and solar, zero-carbon energy sources, which also include hydro and nuclear, now make up 40% of the country's total electricity mix. Greentech
Bangladesh, which until recently had one of the largest coal pipelines in the world, has scrapped nine more coal plants, with a combined capacity of almost 8GW. The decision was driven by a combination of rising costs, worries about the country's future reliance on imported coal and growing public opposition to the health impacts of pollution. Daily Sun
Australia's 3rd biggest bank, ANZ, has pulled out of funding the Port of Newcastle, the world's largest thermal coal terminal. The bank said the investment was too risky and is worried it could become a stranded asset as global decarbonization gathers speed. In news that must really delight their shareholders, Australia's 4th biggest bank, NAB, has agreed to step in to make up the financing gap. Guardian
Uttarakhand has become the first state in India to grant women co-ownership of land, which has traditionally transferred down patriarchal lines. The landmark amendment gives wives and daughters equal access, and overnight, will affect over 350,000 women across the state. It’s hoped other states will now take action too, after what activists are calling a “historic decision". Times of India
A group of workers in Ecuador have also made legal history, after winning the country’s first case against modern-day slavery. After 50 years of labour exploitation, Afro-Ecuadorian workers decided to take action against their powerful agro-industrial employer. The judge ruled in their favour, ordering compensation and a full apology on the company’s website and in local media, detailing every worker by name. Reuters
This story is a little close to the and now finally segment you usually get at the end of the evening news, but we're including it anyway because it's awesome. Two years after girls in the United States were allowed into the Boy Scouts, almost 1,000 have achieved the top rank of Eagle Scout, a grade that only 6% of Scouts ever make. Dyb dyb dob. CBS
The infant mortality rate declined again in Ghana in 2020, to 32.80 per 1,000 live births. A decade ago, it was 49.42 per 1,000 live births, a decline of around 40% in just ten years. Maternal mortality and under 5 mortality rates declined last year too, thanks in part to the country's universal health coverage, which exempts pregnant women from paying health insurance premiums. Keoma
In Malaysia, lawmakers have passed new legislation mandating that drug addicts should be sent to rehabilitation rather than jail. The change of approach is part of the government’s long-term plan to "put science and public health before punishment and incarceration” by giving addicts a second chance and helping them to reintegrate back into the community. Free Malaysia
In New Jersey, a new law legalizing marijuana will change the way police interact with underage offenders, especially in minority communities where drug laws have been disproportionately enforced. Instead of facing criminal charges, people under the age of 21 will now be issued a series of warnings, with a third offense resulting in counselling or community service. Law & Crime
Virginia's lawmakers have approved legislation to abolish the death penalty, moving it a step closer to becoming the 23rd state to ban capital punishment and the first southern state to outlaw the practice. That's a massive turnaround for the state with the highest execution rate in America. Governor Ralph Northam is waiting to sign it into law. "It's time we stop this machinery of death." CNN
Rhino poaching in South Africa dropped by 33% last year, the sixth straight year of declines, and the lowest overall number since 2010. The dramatic decline was partially due to COVID-19 restrictions, but also to ten years of targeted government strategy and the cooperation of different states and countries in sharing information about wildlife trafficking. The South African
Thanks to decades of conservation work, the population of European bison has tripled in the last 17 years, from only 1,800 in 2003 to 6,200 today. That means it is no longer on the vulnerable species list. Conservationists praised local communities for their support in rewilding these animals back to land. “Only by working together can we ensure the progress made in the last 70 years will not decline, but that we will witness a change for the better.” CGTN
13th February 2021 - 19th February 2021
Another week, another flurry of announcements on electric vehicles. Jaguar says it will stop selling internal combustion engines within the next five years, Land Rover will offer electric version of its vehicles from 2024, and the really big one - Ford will sell only EVs in the United Kingdom and Europe from 2030. That's the largest carmaker yet to pledge all-electric sales in Europe. Reuters
Massive announcement from Maersk, the world's largest shipping line. From 2023, all vessels will be required to use carbon-neutral fuels, such as clean methanol and ammonia “If we don’t do this, ten years from now we risk becoming irrelevant.” This is seven years ahead of their original goal, and places serious pressure on other companies to follow suit. Lloyds List
Colombia has granted legal status to almost two million Venezuelan refugees. The bold humanitarian gesture, made by President Iván Duque last week, gives them temporary protected status for ten years, allowing émigrés to work and access public services such as health and education. In a world where nationalist sentiments have all too often been stoked against refugees and migrants, it's a remarkable example of leadership. Smart economic move too. UNHCR
Russia and the United States have agreed to patrol together to enforce a new maritime pollution agreement in the waters of the Bering Sea. Officially, relations between the two countries are at their worst in more than thirty years; the Arctic though, has a long history of fostering international cooperation, and officials aren't letting geopolitical tensions get in the way. Arctic Today
The American Cancer Society says death rates have fallen again. Its latest figures show a 2.4% decline from 2017 to 2018 – the largest one-year drop ever. Longer term, there's been a 31% fall in mortality rates between 1991 and 2018, translating to almost 3.2 million fewer deaths had rates remained at their peak. Its mostly thanks to declines in the four most common cancers: lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate.
A new study in Denmark has found that less people over the age of 70 are having fewer strokes and fewer people of all ages are dying from the disease. It’s good news for global health; strokes are one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Researchers say the decrease is due to improvements in stroke awareness and a drop in smoking rates. Science Daily
A new law decriminalizing same-sex relations has gone into effect in Angola. It overturns a criminal code that had been in place for 134 years, from when the country was still a colony. Activists have heralded it as “a great step forward” in the fight against state-sponsored discrimination against the LGBTQIA+ community in southern Africa. Sahara Reporters
Centuries after they were stolen, the ancestral lands of the American Indian Community in Minneapolis, which includes the site of the U.S. Dakota War in 1862, has been returned to them. Tribal Council members hope it marks the beginning of more efforts to reclaim traditional homelands of Indigenous people. “We are trying to heal ourselves and also we are trying to come back and try to nurture the land and heal the land as well.” CBS Local
People power in Canada has forced the Alberta government to reinstate the 1976 Coal Policy that it revoked last year. The plan had opened up the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains to open-pit coal mining, but after sustained opposition from conservationists, country music stars and both rural and urban communities, the government has been forced to do an about-face. The Narwhal
China, the most populated country in the world, registered almost two million less births last year, compared to 2019. This is excellent news for the environment; fewer people means less consumption and less pressure on ecosystems. It's part of a longer term trend too - China's population is now on track to peak by as soon as 2027. CNN
Air pollution is falling across a vast swathe of 15 countries in Africa, from Senegal in the west to South Sudan in the east. It's the result of rapid urbanization and economic development, leading to a significant decrease in fires traditionally used for land management. “As middle and low-income countries grow you often see more emissions. It’s nice to see a decline occurring when you’d expect to see pollution increasing.” NYT
The Mississippi River is the cleanest it's been in more than a century. Recent testing reported a sharp drop in bacteria, most of which stemmed from human and animal waste, with levels at 1% of what they were before the 1980s. Most of the credit goes to the landmark 1972 Clean Water Act, which forced industries to be accountable for waste discharge and banned the disposal of sewage into rivers and creeks. Regulation huh? Who would have thought. Nola
If the state of the world keeps you up at night, you can rest a little easier knowing the ozone layer is recovering faster than previously thought. Between 2012-2017 it looked certain to be delayed when a mysterious increase of an ozone-depleting gas called CFC-11 was traced back to China. But thanks to the country's quick response in reducing those emissions, scientists say the ozone layer is now back on track to heal to pre-1980s levels within the next 50 years. ABC
America has created its 63rd national park: New River Gorge, in southern West Virginia. The new park, covering 72,000 acres of land, and flanking 53 miles of the gorge, now has the same status as iconic places such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. It's the result of a multigenerational effort, started in the mid-twentieth century, to transform a tired industrial area into a national landmark. NYT
6th February 2021 - 12th February 2021
Shell has joined BP in saying the world has reached peak oil. Europe's biggest oil producer quietly admitted in a recent statement that its total oil production peaked in 2019 and will now drop by 1 or 2 percent annually. It's the clearest signal yet from a major oil company that we've reached the beginning of the end of the fossil fuels era. NYT
A long-standing tradition of slavery has been officially banned in Southern India. The custom, known as bitti chakri, has forced lower-caste groups into unpaid labour in upper-caste homes for centuries. It’s a big win for anti-slavery advocates, who have been campaigning on this issue for years. They’re not finished either, vowing to lobby government until they see real change inside communities and not just on paper. Reuters
More help, less handcuffs. The US city of Denver is reporting early success with a program that replaces armed police officers with healthcare workers for non-violent incidents. Since June 2020, a mental health clinician and a paramedic have responded to 748 calls without the need for police intervention or any arrests. Organisers are now working with other cities to export the model. Denverite
Some great news from our own backyard. A bill banning LGBTQI+ conversion therapy has passed Victoria's Upper House. That means it is now illegal to try to change or suppress a person's sexual orientation or gender identity in our state. Following similar reforms around conversion therapy in Queensland and the ACT, it's another important step in the fight for tolerance and equality in Australia. ABC
It’s been two years since Canada legalized recreational cannabis, and one of the many positive benefits has been a drastic decrease in opioid prescriptions. A recent study compared prescriptions before and after legalization and found that average doses per person have fallen to less than 20% of their former levels. Imagine how powerful this is going to be when the US finally gets its act into gear? High Times
Amidst the flurry of executive orders signed by the Biden administration in the past few weeks, you might have missed this one. He's committed to an ambitious conservation goal, backed by science, to protect 30% of US land and coastal seas by 2030. With only 12% of land currently conserved, that will require protecting an area twice the state of Texas to reach the 30/30 target. Nat Geo
Europe is tackling its waste problem by legislating people’s right to repair the things they’ve bought. France is leading the charge, with a ‘repair index’, that will now appear on the labels of white goods and gadgets, graded on the ease of disassembly and spare parts. According to advocates, the movement has as much to do with altering mindsets as fixing gadgets. “Our philosophy is that something doesn’t belong to you if you can’t open it.” Next City
Mozambique has passed a powerful new fisheries law that extends protected status to dolphins, whale sharks, and manta rays, and makes it easier for communities living along the 2,700 km coastline to lead management initiatives. It comes off the back of news that the country’s largest marine conservation area cut illegal fishing by nearly half in 2020 compared with 2019. Mongabay
400 years after being wiped out by hunters, the UK's crane population has passed a crucial milestone on its road to recovery. 23 chicks were born last year, pushing the national population past 200. The birds returned to Norfolk in the 1970s under their own steam and are now in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Somerset thanks to the restoration of wetland habitats. “The return of cranes to the British landscape shows just how resilient nature can be when given the chance.” Guardian
30th January 2021 - 5th February 2021
South Australia has become the largest grid in the world to have 100% of electricity demand met by solar power, even as its electricity prices have become the cheapest in the country. For years, fossil fuels advocates here in Australia have been warning that too much wind and solar will increase energy prices. Unsurprisingly, those voices are now conspicuously absent. Renew Economy
Amidst the excitement surrounding GM's pledge to eliminate petrol and diesel passenger cars and SUVs by 2035, you might have missed the even bigger news that ZF Frederickshavn, one of the world's top five automotive component manufacturers, has officially ceased R&D on internal combustion engines. "We are preparing for the fact that hardly any combustion engines will be sold in Europe in 2035, perhaps none at all in the passenger car sector."
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world's biggest, has sold its entire portfolio of companies focused on oil exploration and production. The portfolio, worth about $6 billion in 2019, was fully exited by the end of 2020. The fund’s new CEO has made sustainable investing an explicit strategic focus and says all portfolio managers "need to operate with that in mind." World Oil
Pakistan experienced a record drop in terrorism last year, with a 45% decrease compared to 2019. Law-enforcement agencies also averted more than half of terror threats in 2020 and recovered 72,227 weapons and five million rounds of ammunition. It's part of a longer trend - there's been an 86% reduction in terror attacks since 2013, and a 97% decline in suicide bombings since 2009. Gulf News
Crime and murder rates declined in a majority of South American and Caribbean nations last year, including significant reductions in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Venezuela, historically some of the most homicidal nations in the region. While it's not clear how much was attributable to the pandemic, law enforcement authorities hope it represents a turning point. Insight Crime
In the past two decades Australia has experienced one of the most astonishing crime rate declines ever recorded by any country. Since 2001, the rate of break-ins has fallen by 68%, motor vehicle theft by 70%, robbery by 71% and other theft by 43% per cent. Across the same period the Australian murder rate fell by 50%, the attempted murder rate by 70% and overall homicide by 59%. The Australian
Oregon's Measure 110 went into effect this week, the first-of-its-kind legislation in the United States to decriminalize possession of all illegal drugs, including heroin, cocaine, meth and oxycodone. The state's health-care-based approach will now offer addicts treatment instead of prison. “Criminalization creates barriers to treatment. If we want people to make different choices, we have to give them more options." USA Today
A new study in The Lancet looking at the impact of ten different diseases in low-and middle-income countries estimates that vaccines saved the lives of 37 million kids between 2000 and 2019. For those born in 2019, increases in vaccine coverage and introductions of new vaccines will result in an estimated 72% reduction in lifetime mortality compared to those born in 2000.
India's new budget will double the country's spending on healthcare, from 1% to 2% of GDP. It's the largest investment in healthcare in the country's history, and will help improve public health systems as well as fund the huge vaccination drive to immunize 1.3 billion people. Imagine the kind of headlines this would receive if it happened in the US or Europe? Al Jazeera
The US government has trebled the size of the Gulf of Mexico's largest coal sanctuary, from 145 km² to 414 km². The expansion protects 14 additional reefs from the bottom-tending fishing gear, ship anchors and oil and gas exploration. Initially proposed under the Bush administration and formalized by Obama, the process concluded during the final week of the Trump administration. Nola
Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket chain, removed 1 billion pieces of plastic from across its stores in 2020, including the bags used to pack loose vegetables, fruit and baked goods, plastic shrink wraps around tinned food, plastic in Christmas products and plastic wrapping around greetings cards. Shows you how powerful consumer pressure can be when directed in the right way. Greenbiz
For the first time in more than a generation, chinook salmon have spawned in the upper Columbia River system, thanks to a successful re-introduction program by biologists from the Colville Tribe. “I was shocked at first, then I was just overcome with complete joy. I don’t know that I have the right words to even explain the happiness and the healing.” Spokesman
Fishermen in Namibia have reduced the accidental deaths of seabirds, including endangered albatrosses, from 30,000 per year in 2009, to just 215 at last count. It's down to a simple regulation created in 2015 that made bird-scaring lines (a sort of nautical scarecrow) mandatory on all fishing boats. The 98.4% reduction in seabird mortality is an “absolutely amazing” achievement. Eco Magazine
23rd January 2021 - 29th January 2021
The United Nations has ratified the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, the first ever global treaty to ban nuclear weapons and all activities related to them. It's not the end of nuclear weapons - none of the nuclear-capable countries have signed on - but it is a historic milestone in the decades long campaign by civil society groups for disarmament. Conversation
Egypt's cabinet has toughened its laws on female genital mutilation, imposing jail terms of up to 20 years as part of efforts to stamp out the horrifying tradition (90% of Egyptian women between 15 and 49 have undergone FGM). The new law hikes the maximum sentence from the current seven years, and will ban any medical practitioners involved from practicing for five years. Reuters
The UN just released its latest data on family planning. The total number of women and girls around the world using modern contraception now stands at 320 million, with 60 million new users in the last seven years, and nine million in the past year alone. Progress has been particularly strong in Africa, where the number of modern contraceptive users has grown by 66% since 2012. FP2020
Ahead of World Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) Day, there's been some pretty amazing news. More than one billion people have received treatment for at least one NTD every year for the last five years, there are 500 million people who no longer require interventions for any NTDs, and 42 countries, territories and areas have eliminated at least one NTD. Forbes
Even in the face of the pandemic, eleven African countries delivered more than 35 million preventative treatments for NTDs in 2020, with a further 133 million treatments due to be delivered by March this year. That included the administration of more than 7.5 million doses of trachoma-fighting antibiotics in Ethiopia in just one month during December 2020. ReliefWeb
The WHO has now certified 199 countries and territories as being free of Guinea Worm, including 16 formerly endemic countries. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, the number of cases was reduced to just 24 between January and October last year, down from 52 in 2019 and a staggering 3.5 million in 1986.
The world’s biggest diesel engine factory in France is facing up the inevitable, and switching to electric motors. By 2025, more than half the plant's production will be dedicated entirely to electric vehicles, a shift that's testament to a car industry in flux. Demand for diesel cars has slumped since 2015, following pollution scandals and tough new EU regulations. Reuters
China more than doubled its construction of clean energy in 2020, reflecting Beijing’s pledge to cut fossil fuel dependence and bring carbon emissions to a peak within a decade. Check out these numbers: 72GW of wind, 48.2GW of solar and 13.2GW of hydro, bringing new capacity to more than 190GW in a single year. This utterly dwarfs anything comparable by any other country. Bloomberg
Climate activists targeting financial institutions have delivered another victory, after three major European banks - Credit Suisse, ING and BNP Paribas - said they will stop providing financing for oil exports from the Ecuadorian Amazon. It's a significant blow: along with UBS, Natixis and Rabobank, they account for 85% of all bank trade-financing for Amazon oil. Bloomberg
A growing wave of grassroots opposition is challenging the Alberta government's plans to pursue open-pit coal mining in the Canadian Rockies. The pressure, which is coming from both sides of the political divide, is working. On the 18th January, Alberta’s energy minister acknowledged opposition to its plans and announced the province was cancelling 11 coal leases and 'pausing' future sales. The Tyee
Remember that awful scene from Samsara of male chicks being killed after they hatch? Germany just became the first country in the world to ban the practice, effective from the 1st January next year. In a second step, the killing of chick embryos in the egg will be prohibited after the sixth day of incubation starting on the 1st January 2024. Watch for other countries to follow suit. AP
In 1994, outraged by the deaths of sea otters and diving seabirds, voters in California banned gill nets. New research has now revealed that not only did the ban prevent the unnecessary suffering of thousands of birds and otters, but also allowed the population of California's harbor porpoises — one of the smallest toothed whales — a chance to rebound. LA Times
Groundfish populations are rebounding off the west coast of the United States. Of the eight stocks that were declared overfished in the early 2000s, all but one, yelloweye rockfish, have been rebuilt today. It's the result of more than two decades of good science and effective regulation, and show's what's possible when nature is given a chance. Recordnet.com
Bison have returned at last to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana. More than 100 years after the federal government illegally fenced off an 18,000-acre parcel of land, the land and the bison have been restored. “We are thrilled this historic wrong has been righted, and that we can re-establish our relationship with the herd we saved from extinction in the 1800s.” High Country News
16th January 2021 - 22nd January 2021
Total has become the first major global energy company to quit the American Petroleum Institute due to its climate policies and support for drilling. This high-profile departure from the most powerful energy lobby on the planet is a sign of things to come; expect the trickle to become a flood as the Biden administration ramps up efforts to tackle climate change. Reuters
Vietnam just had an insane year for rooftop solar, with 7.4GW installed in less than 12 months. That's 25 times more than it installed in 2019: equivalent to more than half of Australia's entire capacity in a single year. By contrast, only 1.2GW of new coal capacity was added to Vietnam's grid in 2020, from projects that took years to plan and complete. IEEFA
The Naso people of Panama are celebrating a major victory after the country’s Supreme Court upheld their claim to 400,000 acres of ancestral lands encompassing some of the most pristine forests in Central America. “We will be able to continue what our culture and way of life represents: taking care of our Mother Earth, conserving a majestic forest, and protecting the planet from the effects of climate change.” Yale 360
Last year the Global Fund doled out over $8 billion to combat infectious diseases and strengthen health systems in developing countries. This is the highest amount of grants ever given out in a single year - and they all kick off this month. “This is an exceptional achievement that will help more than 100 countries continue the critical fight against HIV, TB and malaria." Relief Web
Development banks and states have just pledged over $14 billion towards planting the Great Green Wall to contain desertification in North Africa. It's welcome news; although numerous pilots have proven the project's viability over the last few years, it's been stuck in funding purgatory. This is a major step forward. The Tribune
China has passed a landmark environmental law protecting the Yangtze, one of the country's two 'mother rivers.' From the 1st of March, chemical projects near the river will be banned and relocated, sand mining will be restricted, and all fishing, including in tributaries, lakes and the estuary, will be forbidden (more than 400 million people live in the Yangtze basin). Reuters
The European Environment Agency says the continent's renewable power generation has doubled since 2005, and is now on par with coal and gas. Not only has this significantly decreased emissions, it's also yielded key improvements for soil acidification, air pollution and eutrophication - where freshwater is overloaded with nutrients, causing algal blooms and low oxygen levels. Reuters
The interior least tern, the smallest member of the tern family, has been taken off the US endangered list after 30 years of tireless work by states, federal agencies, tribes and conservationists. In the early 20th century, its feathers became a popular feature of women's hats, and by 1985 numbers had dropped to less than 2,000. Today, the population is over 18,000, with 480 nesting sites in 18 states. AP
1st January 2021 - 15th January 2021
Renewable energy production in Germany, the world's fourth largest economy, exceeded that of coal, natural gas and oil combined for the first time last year. Wind alone produced more electricity than all of the country’s lignite and hard coal plants, heralding "the end of coal,” and emissions fell by 80 million tonnes meaning the country has reduced emissions by 42% since 1990. It is possible.
Norway has become the first country to record more sales of cars powered by electric engines than cars powered by petrol, diesel and hybrid engines over the course of a year. Battery-electric vehicles made up 54.3% of new passenger-car sales in 2020, up from 42% in 2019, putting the country on track to ban new petrol and diesel cars by 2025. Market Watch
Southeast Asia, the last great hope of the coal barons, radically reconsidered its commitment to coal last year. Four of the region’s largest emerging economies – Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam – cancelled nearly 45GW of coal power in 2020, equivalent to the total installed capacity of Germany. Energy Tracker Asia
Argentina has legalized abortions in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, becoming the largest Latin American nation to give women autonomy over their bodies. "When I was born, women did not vote, we did not inherit, we could not manage our assets, we could not have bank accounts, we didn’t have credit cards, we couldn’t go to university. When I was born, women were nobody. Now, for all the women for fought for those rights and more, let it be law." NYT
The Dominican Republic has definitively banned child marriage. Previously, girls from the age of 15 were allowed to marry, and 36% of Dominican girls and adolescents married before the age of 18, the highest rate in Latin America and the Caribbean. Men or family members who now attempt to force a child to marry will be imprisoned for five years and the marriage annulled. Euro Weekly News
The Philippines has lifted the age of consent for sex from 12 to 16 after decades of lobbying from children’s rights activists. Campaigners say the legislation is a major milestone in efforts to protect the country's young people from sexual abuse, and where 500 teenagers get pregnant and give birth every day. “This is a victory for Filipino children." SCMP
Women’s rights activists in Iran have campaigned for a bill against gender-based violence for 16 years, and now the government is taking a stand on the issue. Hassan Rouhani’s administration passed a bill on the 4th January this year that protects women against domestic and other forms of gender-based violence. Al Jazeera
Denmark has passed a law recognizing that sex without consent is rape. It is the 12th country in Europe to do so, as momentum for change builds in other countries. “This historic day did not come about by chance. It is the result of years of campaigning by survivors who, by telling their painful stories, have helped to ensure that other women do not have to go through what they endured.” Amnesty
Kazakhstan has abolished the death penalty, making permanent a nearly two-decade freeze on capital punishment in the authoritarian Central Asian country. More than two-thirds of the countries in the world have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice, according to Amnesty International. EJI
After a two-year legal battle, Bolivia has recognized its first same-sex civil union, after the country's constitutional court agreed that by refusing to recognize the relationship, Bolivia’s civil registry was practicing discrimination. Gay marriage has become increasingly accepted in Latin America, and activists hope the ruling will pave the way for full legalization in Bolivia. Reuters
As of the 1st January this year, single use plastics have been banned in Mexico City, home to 9 million people. The ban, which includes single-use containers, forks, straws, cotton swabs, plastic cups, plastic stirrers, single-use coffee capsules and balloons, comes as Mexico's capital strives to revamp its image as an eco-friendly, sustainable city. DW
Remember this story the next time someone tells you a circular economy isn't possible at scale. In 2020 Adidas, the second largest shoe manufacturer in the world, produced 15 million pairs of shoes made from ocean plastic waste collected from beaches and coastal regions, and this year, will use recycled polyester in 60% of its products. BI
Japan used to be the world's biggest consumer of tropical logs. Now, thanks to efforts by both Malaysia and Papua New Guinea to protect their forests, imports have dropped to almost zero, and the country's biggest importer will go out of business this spring. "The impact of United Nations-set sustainable development goals on procurement has hurt us like a jab." Nikkei
One of the Trump administration’s biggest energy initiatives has suffered a stunning setback after a 40 year push to drill for oil in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge attracted just three bidders. The Alaskan state was the only bidder on nine of the tracts, and two small companies each picked up a single parcel. Half the offered leases drew no bids at all. Alaska Public
A coalition of more than 50 countries has committed to protect 30% of the planet by 2030 to halt the destruction of the natural world and slow extinctions of wildlife. The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, which includes countries from six continents, made the pledge in Paris on Monday. C'mon Straya. Guardian
21st November 2020 - 4th December 2020
Despite the best efforts of the Trump administration to salt the earth on their way out, all six major US banks have now ruled out financing for oil and gas development in the Arctic. This is the result of years of pressure from the Gwich'in and Iñupiat peoples, activist shareholders, and hundreds of thousands of phone calls from conservation groups. Sierra Club
Swedish iron-ore giant, LKAB, is investing €39bn to decarbonize, the biggest transformation in the company’s 130-year history and the largest industrial investment ever made in Sweden. This might be the most important energy story of 2020 - industrial emissions are nowhere close to being solved, and this investment paves the way for desperately needed new technologies and standards.
The WHO says that malaria deaths fell to the lowest level ever recorded last year. The mortality rate has dropped by almost 60% in the last two decades, from 24.7 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 10.1 per 100,000 in 2019. Take a moment to appreciate this: 1.5 billion malaria cases and 7.6 million malaria deaths have been averted globally in the period between 2000 and 2019.
COVID-19 has raised questions about whether authoritarian regimes are better at handling pandemics than democratic societies. They're not. Eight of the top 10 most successful responses have come from democracies. Success appears to rely less on being able to order people into submission, and more on governments engendering a high degree of trust and societal compliance. Bloomberg
Remember the good old days when terrorism was front page news? The 2020 Global Terrorism Index is reporting that deaths from terrorism have fallen for the fifth consecutive year. 103 countries have improved - the highest number of countries to record a year-on-year improvement since the inception of the index.
The United Nations has removed cannabis for medicinal purposes from a category of the world’s most dangerous drugs. It's a big moment; a highly anticipated and long-delayed decision that will clear the way for a global expansion of marijuana research and medical use, and bolster legalization efforts around the world. The New York Times
Scotland has become the first country in the world to introduce free universal access to period products. Members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously approved the legislation, which makes access to tampons and sanitary pads in public buildings a legal right. “Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first." The Scotsman
Child poverty in the United States plummeted in the last decade. In 2019, 14%, or 10.5 million children, were living in poverty, down from 22%, or 16.3 million, in 2010. All major racial and ethnic groups have seen declines, with the greatest gains coming for Black and Hispanic children. The pandemic is likely to reverse some of that progress - but shouldn't take away from the achievement. Pew
Singapore has become the first country in the world to give the go-ahead to meat created without slaughtering any animals, after approving the sale of lab-grown chicken nuggets. The city state's embrace of alternative proteins isn’t limited to cultivated meat either; it's also moving swiftly to support non-animal proteins produced from plants, algae, and fungi. Straits Times
A new study has shown that air quality in Europe has improved dramatically in the past decade. Thanks to the implementation of better environmental and climate policies, around 60,000 fewer people died prematurely due to fine particulate matter pollution in 2018, compared with 2009. For nitrogen dioxide, the reduction is even greater; premature deaths have declined by about 54%. EEA
After ten years of restoration, Monserrate Hill, on the outskirts of Bogota, Colombia, has been transformed from a deforested eyesore to a bird sanctuary. It now offers an oasis of calm amidst the city of 8 million people, and is home to over 115 species of birds, including 18 types of hummingbirds. Awara Musafir
China's island province of Hainan has banned disposable plastic bags, packaging, meal boxes, bowls, cutlery, drink cups and straws, effective as of the 1st December 2020. Hainan has also been developing eco-friendly substitutes, and expects to spin up a complete industrial chain of fully biodegradable materials and products by 2023. The Star
The world's largest diamond company, De Beers, has committed to a major ethical overhaul in the next decade. It goals now include reaching carbon-neutrality across all global operations, full traceability of all diamonds, achieving gender parity in its workforce, supporting 10,000 female entrepreneurs, engaging 10,000 girls in STEM, and halving its water footprint by 2030. Reuters
250 years after they were stripped of their ancestral homelands, a 1,200 acre ranch has been returned to the Esselen tribe of northern California, a deal that will conserve old-growth redwoods and the California condor and red-legged frog. Guardian
Nodding blue harebells, clusters of yellow kidney vetch and flashes of bird’s-foot-trefoil will line the verges of all new large-scale road projects in England. Contractors are now obliged to create conditions for native wildflower meadows to thrive on all new verges. “It’s potentially hundreds of miles, providing ecological connectivity across the network.” Guardian
14 countries, responsible for 40% of the world’s coastlines, have signed a new pledge to end overfishing, restore fish populations and stop the flow of ocean plastic in the next 10 years. Each of the countries has also committed to making sure all oceans within their national jurisdictions, a combined area roughly the size of Africa, are managed sustainably by 2025. Guardian
The most incredible environmental group you've never heard of is called Pristine Seas. Since 2008, they've inspired the creation of 23 marine reserves - two-thirds of the world’s fully protected marine areas, covering an area of than five million square kilometers. They're now gearing up for another decade of expeditions and believe they can double what's already been accomplished. Nat Geo
21st November 2020 - 27th November 2020
Swedish iron-ore giant, LKAB, is investing €39bn to decarbonize, the biggest transformation in the company’s 130-year history and the largest industrial investment ever made in Sweden. This might be the most important energy news of 2020 - industrial emissions are nowhere close to being solved, and this investment paves the way for desperately needed new technologies and standards.
Remember the good old days when terrorism was front page news? The 2020 Global Terrorism Index is reporting that deaths from terrorism have fallen for the fifth consecutive year. 103 countries has improved - the highest number of countries to record a year-on-year improvement since the inception of the index.
COVID-19 has raised questions about whether authoritarian regimes are better at handling pandemics than democratic societies. They're not. Eight of the top 10 most successful responses have come from democracies. Success appears to rely less on being able to order people into submission, and more on governments engendering a high degree of trust and societal compliance. Bloomberg
Scotland has become the first country in the world to introduce free universal access to period products. Members of the Scottish Parliament unanimously approved the legislation, which makes access to tampons and sanitary pads in public buildings a legal right. “Scotland will not be the last country to make period poverty history – but it now has a chance to be the first. The Scotsman
A new study has shown that air quality in Europe has improved dramatically in the past decade. Thanks to the implementation of better environmental and climate policies, around 60,000 fewer people died prematurely due to fine particulate matter pollution in 2018, compared with 2009. For nitrogen dioxide, the reduction is even greater; premature deaths have declined by about 54%. EEA
250 years after they were stripped of their ancestral homelands, a 1,200 acre ranch has been returned to the Esselen tribe of northern California, a deal that will conserve old-growth redwoods and the California condor and red-legged frog. Guardian
The most incredible environmental group you've never heard of is called Pristine Seas. Since 2008, they've inspired the creation of 23 marine reserves - two-thirds of the world’s fully protected marine areas, covering an area of than five million square kilometers. They're now gearing up for another decade of expeditions and believe they can double what's already been accomplished. Nat Geo
14TH NOVEMBER 2020 - 20TH NOVEMBER 2020
In January 2020, the only thing the world’s scientists knew about the novel coronavirus was its genetic profile. 300 days later, we're on the brink of a major victory after vaccines from both Pfizer and Moderna cleared large scale trials. This is a triumph for science: vaccines normally take a decade from inception to market, and less than one in five that enter human trials get to the finish line. Bloomberg
Humanity is winning its fight against elephantiasis, a horrible parasitic disease causing irreversible disfigurement, and the second leading cause of disability in the world. In the last 20 years, the number of people infected has dropped by 74%, from 199 million to 51.4 million, and last year three countries, Malawi, Kiribati and Yemen, eliminated it altogether. The Lancet
Cambodia has made huge inroads in its fight against malaria this year. In the first nine months of 2020, the country saw a 70% decrease in malaria cases compared to the same period last year. “This is a proud achievement for Cambodia, and our biggest step made so far to eradicate the disease.” Khmer Times
A UNICEF report on the Swachh Bharat Mission, India's massive sanitation drive, has shown that it brought major benefits to poor households across the country. The average benefit per household was US$727 per year, mainly from health savings such as reduced diarrhoea incidence (55%) and savings from sanitation access time (45%).
Argentina has broadened the use of medicinal cannabis, allowing it to be prescribed for any condition backed by scientific evidence, and letting people grow it at home. New rules also state that cannabis should be made available for free in the country’s public health system for patients without insurance. Yes, you heard that right. Publicly funded medical marijuana. The times they are a changin'. Vice
The Falkland Islands have been cleared of all landmines, nearly 40 years after the end of the war with Britain. Tens of thousands of mines and bombs have been removed since 2009, as part of a UK-funded programme, a task carried out by a team of specialist de-miners, many of them from Zimbabwe. "We never thought the islands would be completely mine free, this is a momentous change." BBC
Mexico has changed its laws to prohibit holding migrant children in immigration detention centers. Under the changes, the country will shift responsibility for housing children and their families to the country’s family development agency, and away from those responsible for immigration enforcement and running detention centers. NBC
The British territory of Tristan da Cunha has created the fourth largest completely protected marine area in the world, and the largest in the Atlantic. The 687,000 km2 sanctuary will be a no-take zone, meaning fishing and other harmful activities will be banned to protect the wildlife found on and around the chain of islands, including albatross, penguins, whales, sharks and seals. Nat Geo
Florida has become the latest of 18 states and territories to ban the trafficking of shark fins. Federal prosecutors say it's a milestone in their efforts to stop the smuggling trade, as Florida had served as a key waypoint for international shark fin hauls. Mongabay
The richest person in the world has announced the first 16 recipients of his Earth Fund, who will receive $791 million in donations. Organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defence Council, Environmental Defence Fund, and the World Resources Institute will each receive $100 million, with more to come. Verge
Kopenhagen Fur, the world’s largest fur auction house, has announced it will close its doors within the next three years, citing the impact of COVID-19 and years of steep drops in pelt prices and stockpiles left unsold. It could signal the beginning of the end for the global fur trade, preventing millions of animals from suffering in the future for the fickle whims of fashion. HSI
In the Pacific Northwest, the Yurok tribe has begun the reintroduction of the Californian Condor to its ancestral lands along the Klamath River. The program, a partnership with 16 different federal agencies, private companies, and conservation organizations, will restore North America's largest bird to parts of the country where it hasn't been seen in more than a century. Audubon
That's not all. The same tribe - the Yurok - just signed a historic deal to remove four dams from the Klamath, the largest dam removal project in US history. This will free up 600km of waterway and spawning grounds for salmon and other migratory species like steelhead trout and Pacific lamprey. “These efforts are as much about ecology as they are to right the wrongs that took place in this country for the last 200 years.” BBC
...and finally, to round up the good news, we had to put this in here. After four years of no pets in the White House (the longest stretch since 1840) two German shepherds, Champ and Major, are moving in. Major will be the first 'First Dog' from a shelter, reflecting a growing embrace by Americans of shelter dogs—more than 1.6 million were adopted last year, and forced euthanasia has fallen by more than two thirds since 2011. Nat Geo
6TH NOVEMBER 2020 - 13TH NOVEMBER 2020
There's been a huge breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. A new antiretroviral administered as an injection six times a year is 89% more effective at preventing HIV in women compared to standard ARVs, which are taken as a daily pill. "This is a major, major advance,” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease doctor in the US. “I don’t think we can overemphasize its importance." NYT
What once sounded like a progressive pipe dream — legalize it — is now a reality. Last weekend, New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, Mississippi and South Dakota all legalized either recreational or medical marijuana, Washington DC decriminalized psilocybin, and Oregon became the first US state to decriminalize the personal possession of all drugs, including cocaine, methamphetamine and opioids. Wired
A large new national study has shown that the lives of more than 1.2 million people in the United States were saved following a cancer diagnosis between the year 2000 and 2016, thanks to new treatment options. New drugs commissioned during this period targeting the 15 most common cancer types helped to reduce cancer mortality by 24% per 100,000 people. Eureka Alert
The United Arab Emirates has overhauled some of its strictest Islamic laws to bolster women’s rights. The changes, announced last weekend and effective immediately, include the criminalization of 'honour killings', and tougher penalties for sexual harassment. Umarried couples will now be allowed to live together and suicide and attempted suicide will be decriminalized. The National
More than 130,000 people turned out for Taiwan's LGBTQI+ pride rally this year, marching through the streets of Taipei in a colourful celebration of equality made possible by the island's successful vanquishing of the coronavirus. The parade came a day after two same-sex couples joined a mass wedding hosted by the military for the first time, another gay rights landmark in Asia. SBS
Following litigation by consumer groups and environmentalists, air pollution in more than 40 German cities has plummeted. Between 2018 and 2019 alone, nitrogen dioxide levels fell by an average of 4.2µg/m³. "People are finally breathing cleaner air – legal action works. We see the potential for NO2 to meet legal limits in every German town by 2021." Air Quality News
Voters in Colorado have narrowly approved a ballot initiative that paves the way for gray wolves to be reintroduced back to the state for the first time in more than 80 years. It's the first time a US state has voted to reintroduce an animal to the ecosystem, and there's plenty of space - the Southern Rockies contains millions of acres of suitable habitat. Nat Geo
Record numbers of Olive Ridley sea turtles have hatched in Mexico this year, thanks to reduced human activity during the pandemic and the dedicated efforts of Tortugueros del Desemboque, a conversation group run by the indigenous Comcáac people. Over 2,250 baby turtles were released into the Gulf of California this year, compared to normal numbers of between 500 to 1,000. USA Today
More good news from Seattle. Two more dams have come down on the Pilchuck River, opening more than 60km of habitat to salmon for the first time in more than a century. The project is a collaboration between the City of Snohomish and Tulalip Tribes, and will benefit multiple species of salmon, including threatened chinook salmon, crucial food for resident killer whales. Seattle Times
30TH OCTOBER 2020 - 5TH NOVEMBER 2020
Another one bites the coal dust. The Philippines, the third largest ASEAN economy, has announced it will no longer accept proposals to construct new coal power plants. This caps off a brutal October for the global fossil fuels industry, after dozens of financial institutions announced exits last month not just from coal, but oil and gas too. IEEFA
Since Donald Trump took office, the clean energy sector in the United States has employed nearly three times as many people as the fossil fuels industry, and between 2016 and 2019, renewables added more than double the jobs that fossil fuels did. Sometimes, a simple piece of data paints a clearer picture than a thousand opinion pieces. #MAGA. Morning Consult
UNESCO says that since 1995, the proportion of girls receiving primary and secondary education has increased from 73% to 89%. In actual numbers, that's an extra 180 million girls in school compared to a generation ago (and three times more women are also now enrolled in universities). Reminder - educating girls and empowering women is the single most effective way to combat climate change.
The number of people suiciding in Japan has plummeted in recent years, falling each year for the last decade. Last year there were 20,169 cases, the lowest number since 1978 when the government first started keeping records, and at least 10,000 fewer deaths per annum than during the early naughts. Japan Subculture
For the second year in a row, Iceland, one of three remaining whaling nations, says it will not be hunting any whales, thanks to changing public opinion and falling consumption of whale meat. Announcements by the country’s two whaling companies suggest this may be the permanent end of the annual hunt. NatGeo
Centuries of colonialism, followed by decades of mismanagement, have almost destroyed the caribou herds of British Columbia. In 2011, First Nations people took matters into their own hands, suing the government and starting their own conservation programs. Slowly but surely, it's working. Numbers are increasing, and the government is now providing funding and protecting land. Civil Eats
23RD OCTOBER 2020 - 29TH OCTOBER 2020
The clean energy juggernaut rolls on. Lazard has just published its annual cost of electricity report, one of the energy industry's most respected benchmarks. It says the cost of onshore wind has fallen to $26 a megawatt-hour and utility scale solar is $29. Forget coal - that means that building new wind and solar is now cheaper than keeping many existing gas plants running (gas-led recovery, anyone?).
Japan, the third largest economy in the world, has committed to reaching zero emissions and achieving a carbon-neutral society by 2050, with a fundamental shift in policy on coal use. The country's new Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, says “responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth." Oh, and South Korea has announced it will be carbon neutral by 2050 too. NPR
The world is winning the fight against tuberculosis. The WHO has just published its annual TB report, showing that between 2015 and 2019, global deaths fell by 14%. In fact, since 2000, TB treatment has averted more than 60 million deaths. Naturally, this incredible news has made headlines everywhere, interrupting the news cycle and bumping those two old white dudes off the front pages. WHO
Child marriage is becoming less common in Bangladesh. The proportion of girls being married before the age of 18 has dropped from 64% in 2010, to just over 50% today. In actual numbers, that means there are 10 million fewer girls who have been forced into child marriage today compared to a decade ago. UNICEF
Samoa has launched an ambitious new strategy to protect and preserve its ocean area, with a commitment to protect 30% of its territorial waters by 2025, a significant increase from the 1% currently under protection. This will result in 36,000 km2 of new fully-protected marine protected areas in the next five years. Government of Samoa
Egypt has managed to plant trees in the desert using wastewater, creating a massive 200 hectare oasis known as the Serapium Forest, which has boomed despite a recent drought. Following the success of the project, the country is now looking to plant more desert lands with trees to fight climate change. Al Monitor
Seattle's Duwamish River is visibly healing. In 2001, after a century of unchecked industrial pollution, it was labelled as one of the most toxic sites in America. After two decades of clean up efforts by conservationists and community groups, wildlife is now returning and the river is the cleanest it's been in 100 years. Seattle Met
16TH OCTOBER 2020 - 22ND OCTOBER 2020
The IEA's latest annual report contains a hidden nugget of very, very good news. Last year, the number of people without access to electricity dropped from 860 million to 770 million, a new record low. Africa has made particularly good progress; the number of people gaining access to electricity doubled from 9 million a year between 2000 and 2013, to 20 million between 2014 and 2019. IEA
Global sulfur dioxide pollution levels fell by 6% last year, according to a new analysis of NASA satellite data. SO2 emissions fell in all three of the world’s top emitter countries – India, Russia and China, only the second time ever that this has happened. Researchers say it's due to falling coal usage, especially in India. Air Quality News
In the last quarter century, how far have we come in advancing women’s rights? A new analysis from the IRC reveals some dramatic gains, including a 110% increase in women serving in national parliaments, a 49% increase in women in ministerial positions, a 38% decrease in maternal deaths, and an 18% increase in female literacy. Is it enough? Not even close. But it is progress.
Crime has plummeted in the Philippines this year. In the first nine months of 2020 there was a 46% decline in the country's 'focus' crimes of murder, homicide, physical injury, rape, robbery, theft, and hijacking. Police are scratching their heads; given the loss of livelihoods and other economic difficulties, they were expecting crime to actually go up. Manila Bulletin
Uganda has launched its ambitious Wildlife Habitat & Corridor Restoration Project, which focuses on restoring habitat for endangered chimpanzees by adding 3 million trees to the Albertine Rift Forests. The area is home to endangered chimpanzees, as well as more than 50% of birds, 39% of mammals, 19% of amphibians and 14% of reptiles and plants of mainland Africa. Monde Stuff
Every signature counts. US federal officials have issued new protections for Gulf of Mexico deep-sea coral hot spots, restricting damaging fishing gear in most of those areas. This comes after 11,000 people signed their names in support during a final round of public comment in late 2019. The protections mark a major milestone in safeguarding coral ecosystems in the Gulf. Pew
Every hand counts too. For the last 20 years, the world’s largest seagrass restoration project has been running off the coast of Virginia, and during that time the ecosystem has gone from near death to full flowering. Over 70 million eelgrass seeds have been planted by volunteers. "Today, as far as I can swim, I see lush meadows, rays, the occasional seahorse. It’s beautiful.” Science News
9TH OCTOBER 2020 - 15TH OCTOBER 2020
The proportion of the world's children under the age of five infected with hepatitis B has dropped to just under 1%, down from 5% in the early 2000s. 85% of kids around the world are now getting all three doses of the HBV vaccine - and Gavi says it is on track to avert a further 1.2 million infection-related deaths between 2021 and 2035. Science, B*t©h3$! WHO
We had to dig for this one, seeing as it did not appear in a single mainstream news publication. The US Justice Department has released its crime data for 2019, showing that violent crime in the United States decreased by 0.5% last year, the third consecutive year of declines, and property crime dropped by 4.1%, the 17th consecutive year of declines. Hellholes, anyone?
Crime is declining in France too. While the idea of 'ensauvagement' — long a dog whistle of the far right — is now being parroted by all sides of French politics, the truth is that nearly all major crimes are lower than they were a decade ago. Since 2006, acts of physical violence outside the home have decreased by 8% and thefts with physical violence or threat have dropped by 61% in the same period. NYT
Electric car sales in Europe have smashed through even the most optimistic forecasts by experts. One in 10 new cars sold in 2020 will be electric or hybrid, triple last year’s sales. New forecasts suggest that it will be one in seven in 2021, as manufacturers scramble to comply with tighter emissions standards. Smart regulation + great technology. It really can be that simple. Ars Technica
Here's an even bigger market signal. The world's largest cement producer, LafargeHolcim, has become the the first global building materials company to commit to reducing its emissions within the next decade, and says it will reach 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. Reminder: the cement industry causes 8% of global carbon emissions. FT
Singapore has created the new 400 ha Sungei Buloh Park in the northern portion of the island, a refueling site for migratory birds and home to oriental hornbills, otters, saltwater crocodiles, and many other species. It's part of a wider initiative to turn disused industrial areas back into natural landscapes, and plant 1 million trees across the city-state by 2030. Mongabay
The recovery of the Iberian lynx is one of the best conservation success stories of modern times. The population increased by 23% in 2019. There are now 894 individuals in the wild, up from just 92 in 2002. The EU has also earmarked €18 million to keep the project running for the next five years, giving conservationists a real shot at restoring a stable, genetically diverse population. La Vanguardia
2ND OCTOBER 2020 - 8TH OCTOBER 2020
Myanmar has become the second country in southeast Asia, and the twelfth country in the world to eliminate trachoma. Fifteen years ago, the disease was responsible for 4% of all cases of blindness in the country. By 2018, prevalence had dropped to 0.008%, and a month ago, the WHO confirmed its elimination.
Italy has abolished anti-immigrant decrees installed by former populists, and reinstated humanitarian protection for migrants and refugees. The government has also cut the time needed for citizenship applications from four years to three. "Tonight a wall comes down. Onward towards a country with more humanity." The Local
Same-sex marriages now make up a half a million US households, five years after the Supreme Court made it legal for people to love each other. According to the latest census, there are now 980,000 same-sex households in the country, and half of those are married, an increase of almost 70% since 2014. VOA
During the first term of the most coal-friendly president in American history, 145 coal-burning units at 75 power plants have been shut down, eliminating 15% percent of the country's coal-generated capacity. This is the fastest decline in coal capacity in any single presidential term, far greater than the rate during either of President Barack Obama’s terms. #MAGA. NYT
The number of people suffering from air pollution in London has plunged from 2 million in 2016, to 119,000 in 2019, a fall of 94%. It's thanks to regulations introduced by the city's mayor, Sadiq Khan, which have resulted in 44,000 fewer dirty vehicles now driven in central London every day compared with 2017. Guardian
Greyhound racing is dying out in the United States. Thanks to changing attitudes and the efforts of animal rights activists, 39 American dog tracks have closed since 2001. In the country that invented modern commercial greyhound racing, there are now only seven dog tracks remaining in five states, and within the next two years, those will likely close too. Nat Geo
Vietnam has established a new 22,132 ha tropical forest nature reserve called Dong Chau-Khe Nuoc Trong, whose name means “clear water in the ravine." It is home to 40 globally threatened species, including the singing gibbon and the saola, a mysterious antelope-like bovine with a pair of long, straight horns known as the Asian unicorn. World Land Trust
25TH SEPTEMBER 2020 - 1ST OCTOBER 2020
California just became the first US state to say it will ban the sale of new internal combustion engines, starting the clock on a future that would’ve been unthinkable a few years ago. Automakers now have 15 years left until their products become illegal in one of their most important markets. It's a big deal. California consumes about 1% of global oil production. NPR
The announcement came less than a day after China pledged to go carbon neutral by 2060. The move is largely symbolic given the lack of details. It does however, bring the world's third biggest economy into a loose but vitally important consensus with the second largest (EU), fourth largest (Japan), and fifth largest (California). Four of the world’s six largest economies now have end dates for their carbon emissions. Bloomberg
“When a baby arrives in the world, there is no reason it should be just the mother who takes care of it. The presence of the father is much more important than we thought, much earlier than we believed.” France has just doubled paternity leave from 14 to 28 days starting next summer, and fathers will be required to take at least a week off work after their babies are born. NYT
Kazakhstan has joined an international protocol on the abolition of the death penalty. It's the 88th nation to become a signatory to the protocol, which fulfills a fundamental right to life and human dignity. The country's head of state, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, quoted the Kazakh poet and philosopher Abai, stressing the need for “love, compassion, bold actions, deeds and thoughtfulness.” Astana Times
Ecuador’s highest court has ruled that communities have the right to vote on whether to allow large and medium-sized mining projects in their areas. The court’s decision follows a petition by the government of Cuenca, a city in the country’s highlands, to propose a referendum on seeking to ban mining near water sources. Mining.com
France's environment minister has announced that wild animals will no longer be allowed in travelling circuses, and that starting immediately, France’s three marine parks won’t be able to import or breed dolphins and killer whales. The measures will also bring an end to mink farming within the next five years. "It is time to open a new era in our relationship with these wild animals." ABC
18TH SEPTEMBER 2020 - 24TH SEPTEMBER 2020
According to notorious latte-sipping, radical greenies, BP, the world has already passed peak oil. The company estimates that, for the first time ever, global energy demand is levelling off and that in the face of stronger climate action, oil demand will fall by at least 10% this decade and by as much as 50% over the next 20 years. Carbon Brief
Walmart, the world's largest retailer, has committed to becoming a 'regenerative company'. Since 2017, it's cut 230 million metric tons of carbon from its supply chain, and is now targeting zero emissions by 2040, without offsets. The company is also committing to protect, manage or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean by 2030. Electrek
China has lifted over 50 million people out of poverty in the last five years. The country's requirements are stricter than the World Bank's; in addition to having sufficient income, China doesn’t consider people to be out of poverty until they have enough food and clothing, guaranteed basic healthcare, access to compulsory education and safe housing. Bloomberg
A new agreement between UNICEF and the Serum Institute of India has dropped the global price of the pneumonia vaccine to $2 per dose. The 43% price drop will expand protection against one of the world’s deadliest diseases, forestalling the deaths of millions of children in developing countries. Borgen
Animal rights activists are celebrating a huge win, as Poland's lower house has voted to ban fur farming. The law, which is expected to pass the upper house easily, also bans ritual slaughter for exports and the use of wild animals in circuses. Poland is the world’s third-largest fur producer after China and Denmark, and the ban will spare the lives of more than five million animals. CIWF
11TH SEPTEMBER 2020 - 17TH SEPTEMBER 2020
In the first half of 2020, renewables (solar, wind, hydro and biomass) didn’t just beat out coal on the European grid — they beat out all fossil fuels put together. As a result, the continent's power sector CO2 emissions fell by 23%. Coal's game in Europe is well and truly up, and gas isn't too far behind. Ember
Has global inequality in the last two decades gotten worse, or gotten better? The answer will probably surprise you. During the 2000s and 2010s, the global Gini coefficient dropped by 15 points and the earnings share of the world's poorest half doubled. The reason this feels surprising is that most of us hardly ever read journalism written by people from Asia, Africa and South America. Uppsala
In a similar vein, the Social Progress Index measures the social and economic performance of all the world's countries over time. According to the 2020 report, the world has improved on 8 of 12 key measures in the past decade. 95% of countries have improved by one point or more, and only 2% have declined.
A new study in The Lancet has shown that between 2013 and 2017, air pollution in 74 key Chinese cities fell by a third, driven by a 85.4% decline in household air pollution and a 12% decline in PM2.5. As a result, the death rate attributable to air pollution has plummeted by more than 60%, saving hundreds of thousands of lives.
The United States Senate has passed a bipartisan agreement to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, a potent greenhouse gas that is widely used in air conditioners and refrigeration. Lawmakers were swayed by a combined push from industry and environmentalists (unlike coal, oil and natural gas, HFCs don't have a lobby). WaPo
Conservationists in Australia have eradicated all feral cats and foxes from a vast 9,570-hectare fenced area at Mallee Cliffs National Park, creating the largest feral predator-free safe haven on the mainland and paving the way for the largest re-wilding project ever to be undertaken in the state of New South Wales. AWC
4 SEPTEMBER 2020 - 10 SEPTEMBER 2020
Bangladesh has one of the largest coal pipelines in the world. Or rather, it did. The government is reviewing 90% of planned plants with a view to finding 'less expensive alternatives.' That's 28GW of coal on the chopping block - larger than Australia's entire capacity. Another coal bomb defused, thanks to the efforts of ̶b̶u̶r̶e̶a̶u̶c̶r̶a̶t̶s̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶p̶o̶l̶i̶t̶i̶c̶i̶a̶n̶s̶ scientists and engineers. China Dialogue
Trachoma is the world's leading infectious cause of blindness. It's also one of the greatest public health successes of all time. According to latest data the number of people at risk from the disease has been reduced by 92% in the last 17 years, from 1.5 billion in 2002 to 137 million in 2020, and 13 countries have eliminated it altogether. WHO
Togo has become the first African country to officially eliminate sleeping sickness, a parasitic disease that's almost always fatal when left untreated. The achievement comes after more than two decades of sustained political commitment, surveillance and screening, and is part of a much bigger global success story - fewer than 1,000 cases were reported globally in 2019. WHO
Sudan’s government has officially ended 30 years of Islamic state rule. Minority languages will be official and Christians and followers of local religions will be allowed to worship in peace in the mainly Muslim nation. “For Sudan to become a democratic country, the constitution should be based on the principle of ‘separation of religion and state. No citizen shall be discriminated against based on their religion." MEM
Two decades ago, the Burmese roofed turtle was thought to be extinct. Conservationists have since helped the population recover to nearly 1,000 animals, some of which have now been successfully released into the wild in Myanmar. “This is one of the best global turtle conservation successes we have. We came so close to losing them.” NYT
28 AUGUST 2020 - 3 SEPTEMBER 2020
Following staggering losses, Asia’s largest oil and gas producer, PetroChina, has announced a zero emissions target by 2050. This is its first ever emissions target; what makes it so meaningful is that it's the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum. Further proof that a major strategic shift is now underway in global oil and gas markets. Reuters
Global AIDS deaths decreased again last year. According to the latest figures from the UN, the number of people who died from the disease fell by 5.4% between 2018 and 2019, reaching the lowest level since 1993. Also crucially, for the first time ever, more than two thirds of HIV-positive people around the world now have access to anti-retroviral treatments. UNAIDS
In 2015, Germany opened its borders to people fleeing war and persecution: arguably the greatest humanitarian act of the 21st century. The country now has 1.7M refugees, the second highest population in the world, and the gamble has paid off. More than half are employed and paying taxes, and over 80% say they feel a strong sense of belonging (C'mon Straya). Guardian
Belize has added another jewel in its crown as a global leader in ocean conservation. Last month, it increased the size of its Sapodilla Cayes reserve to 1,300 km2 to encompass the Cayman Crown, one of the best preserved reef ecosystems in the region, home to many endangered species of corals, as well as previously undocumented reef types. EDF
It's not just Belize. In the last five years the Seychelles has progressed from protecting 0.04% to 30% of its national waters, covering 410,000 km2 of ocean – an area larger than Germany. 85% of the Seychelles’ coral reefs and 88% of the nation’s shallow waters are now protected from fishing, oil exploration and other marine development. BBC
21 AUGUST 2020 - 27 AUGUST 2020
Africa is officially free from wild polio. 25 years ago it paralysed more than 75,000 children across the continent. Since then, billions of oral vaccines have been provided, preventing 1.8 million cases. It's one of the greatest healthcare success stories of all time. If you get a chance today just pause, and take a little moment to appreciate this extraordinary achievement. BBC
It's election season, so naturally this one didn't make headlines. Since 1965, Gallup has been polling Americans about whether they want immigration levels to decrease, increase, or remain the same. In 2020, for the first time in the poll’s history, more Americans said they wanted to increase immigration than decrease it. Cato
In perhaps one of the most globally consequential yet under-reported stories of the year, China has issued new rules for its distant water fishing fleet. The country's Wildlife Protection Law will now apply at sea, ships will no longer be allowed to 'go dark' or approach marine protected areas, ship captains who break the rules will lose their license for five years and company managers will be banned for three years. Earth.org
A series of studies in the US, the UK and 26 other countries has shown that loneliness during the pandemic has not only leveled out but, in certain cases, improved. People have found ways to maintain social connection, and there's been a renewed appreciation for the importance of relationships. If these trends continue, the social recession many feared could turn out to be a social revolution. Scientific American
Since the 1970s, more than 90,000 km2 of desert in Niger has been regreened, thanks to a technique known as farmer-managed natural regeneration. These huge forests of thorny trees are now productive farmland, yielding over a million more tons of grain than before. A desolate land, once bereft of life and on its way to desertification, has been utterly transformed. Mongabay
14 AUGUST 2020 - 20 AUGUST 2020
While 2020 has been a terrible year for fossil fuels, it's been an incredible one for renewables. Despite a record drop in power demand, wind and solar's share of global electricity has increased from 8.7% to 10% in the first six months of the year. The biggest winner has been offshore wind, with orders up by 319%, making it the fastest-growing industry in the world right now. Science Alert
According to a new study, mortality rates from the most common form of lung cancer have fallen sharply in the United States. "For the first time, nationwide mortality rates for non-small cell lung cancer are declining faster than its incidence, an advance that correlates with the FDA's approval of several targeted therapies for this cancer in recent years.” NIH
Kenya's Wildlife Service says its elephant population has more than doubled from 16,000 in 1989 to 34,000 today. The number of elephants poached is also down significantly from previous years — just seven this year, compared to 34 in 2019 and 80 in 2018. Meanwhile, 140 baby elephants have been born in the Amboseli National Park since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. DW
Remember the insect apocalypse? While it was a worrying piece of news, most of the evidence came from Europe. New research has now shown that there has been no equivalent decline in the United States. Populations are down in some areas, but up in others, resulting in net abundance and biodiversity trends that are generally indistinguishable from zero. In other words, American insects are generally doing fine (bet you didn't hear that in the evening news). Nature
At the turn of this century, Staten Island's landfill was the largest garbage dump in the world, three times larger than Central Park, with trash mounds 20 stories high excreting noxious methane and leaking bin juice into the waterways. Today, it's a green oasis, and one of the most unlikely urban ecological restoration success stories of all time. The radical fix? Bury the rubbish, plant some grass and do nothing for 20 years. NYT
8 AUGUST 2020 - 13 AUGUST 2020
How many times have you heard someone say that because we're living longer, we're more likely to experience cognitive decline? Not true. The risk of a person developing dementia in the US and Europe is now 13% lower than it was in 2010 (Alzheimer’s is falling too, by 16% per decade). Researchers think it's down to less smoking, better cardiovascular health, and better education. NYT
Between 1992 and 2019, Senegal cut its rate of stunting prevalence in half, from 34.4% to 18.8%. Improved access to post-natal care, education, water and sanitation now means the country has the lowest stunting burden in French-speaking West Africa. Exemplars
British retailers sold 226 million single-use plastic bags in the 2019/2020 financial year, 322 million fewer than in 2018/19. That's a 59% drop in a single year. The average shopper now buys four bags per year, compared to a whopping 140 in 2014. Guardian
A record 26 US states removed 90 dams in 2019, thanks to a growing movement of environmentalists seeking to restore rivers to their natural state. In total, 1,722 dams have been removed across the country since 1912, and as they disappear, fish are returning in droves: Atlantic salmon, alewives, baby eels, shad and brook trout, to name a few. NYT
Conservationists are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the re-introduction of red kites to the United Kingdom. In the 1980s, these majestic birds of prey were persecuted to near extinction. Following one of the most successful re-wilding programs in history however, there are now an estimated 10,000 birds across the country, including 1,800 breeding pairs. BBC
11 JULY 2020 - 7 AUGUST 2020
The size of the global coal power fleet fell for the first time ever in the first six months of 2020, with more plants shutting than starting operations. Did someone just say, ‘tipping point’? Guardian
The world’s most valuable company has committed to becoming carbon-neutral by 2030, a pledge that covers its entire supply chain and the lifecycle of all its products, including the electricity consumed in their use. Guardian
The UK’s biggest pension fund, with over nine million members, is divesting from fossil fuels, a landmark move for the industry. Guardian
The world is losing its taste for meat. Production fell last year, and will do so again in 2020 (there have never been two consecutive years of decline). Globally, we’re already at peak pasture, and it now looks like we’re approaching peak beef. Bloomberg
Since 2007, the majority of the world’s countries - 113 countries - have reduced their armed forces, 100 have reduced military expenditure and both imports and exports of weapons have reached their lowest levels since 2009. GPI
A major new study in The Lancet has shown that the average number of children a woman gives birth to has fallen from 4.7 in 1950 to 2.4 in 2017, and will drop below 1.7 by 2100. Global population is now on track to peak in the middle of this century. BBC
Indonesian officials are vowing to end the controversial custom of bride kidnapping, after videos of women being abducted sparked a national debate. Jakarta Post
After more than 30 years of Islamist rule, Sudan has outlined wide-reaching human rights reforms including allowing non-Muslims to drink alcohol, abolishing public flogging, and scrapping the death penalty for renouncing Islam. BBC
Huge, huge win for indigenous rights in the United States. The Supreme Court has declared that because of a treaty signed in 1866, up to half of Oklahoma’s land must be returned as the sovereign possession of the Creek Nation. E-Tangata
More than one million people in the UK have given up smoking during the COVID-19 pandemic. More people quit smoking in the year to June 2020 than in any year since surveys began in 2007. BBC
Parents in OECD countries now spend twice as much time with their children as they did 50 years ago (except for France because, well, France). Economist
Vietnam has banned all wildlife imports and closed illegal wildlife markets, as part of the global response to the threat of zoonotic diseases. WAN
Researchers have shown that noise levels around the world have fallen by 50% in the last six months, the quietest Planet Earth has been since humans developed the technology to listen. They’re calling it The Anthropause. Vice
Britain’s woodlands now cover as much of the country as they did during the Middle Ages, thanks to 20th-century forestry and rewilding practices (Robin Hood eat your heart out). Times UK
25 years after gray wolves returned to Yellowstone, they’ve transformed the ecosystem and stabilized elk populations. “Elk aren’t starving to death anymore.” NatGeo
27 JUNE 2020 - 10 JULY 2020
The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to a global ceasefire, adopting a resolution that demands a general and immediate cessation of hostilities around the world, to unite efforts to fight COVID-19 in vulnerable countries. UN
This one got swamped by the coronavirus news, but so important - Congo has declared that the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record is over after nearly two years. Channel News Asia
Germany will almost double funding for the WHO this year, contributing more than half a billion euros. "We need a strong, transparent and accountable WHO today more than ever," said the country’s Health Minister Jens Spahn. DW
A new study has shown that between 2013 and 2017, the availability of medical marijuana in states that had passed cannabis laws led to an average reduction of around 20% in opioid prescriptions. JAAOS
A new study from the CDC showed that infant mortality rates across the United States declined from 2000 to 2017, a trend attributed to fewer women giving birth in their teens. ABC
The US Supreme Court has passed a landmark ruling protecting LGBTQIA+ citizens from workplace discrimination. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch authored the decision: “It is impossible to discriminate against a person for being homosexual or transgender without discriminating against that person based on sex.” BBC
Meet Hasina Kharbhih, whose NGO, Impulse Network, has, in the past two decades rescued over 72,000 women and children trafficked across India, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Nepal. Ozy
The US imprisonment rate is at its lowest level in more than two decades, with the greatest decline coming among black Americans, whose imprisonment rate has decreased 34% since 2006. Pew
As rates fall across the US, former prisons, jails, and detention centers are being converted from facilities that confine people into ones that support them, such as mental health clinics, community centres and homes for former convicts. FreeThink
Georgia’s parliament has passed a landmark democratic reform, bringing the distribution of parliamentary seats into line with the national vote results, and ending the excessive consolidation of power by a single political group. Eurasia
Volkswagen, one of the world’s biggest carmakers, just produced its last ever combustion vehicle at Zwickau, one of its biggest factories in Germany. That factory now claims the title of Europe’s largest electric vehicle plant. Next Web
California has approved a groundbreaking policy to wean its trucking sector off diesel, requiring manufacturers to sell a rising number of zero-emission vehicles from 2024, a ‘major step’ toward reducing the state’s emissions. Reuters
Amazon India has eliminated all single-use plastic in its packaging across fulfillment centers in the country, and local rival Flipkart says that it has cut down the usage of plastic packaging in its own supply chain to about 50%. Reuters
Germany has agreed to end the sale of single-use plastic straws, cotton buds and food containers from July 2021, bringing it in line with a European Union directive intended to reduce the amount of plastic waste. DW
Pakistan has just announced the creation of 15 new national parks, expanding protected areas from 12% to 15% o the country, and creating 5,000 ‘guardians of nature’ jobs for young people within the next three months. Gulf News
More than 2 million people gathered in northern India last week while practicing social distancing, and planted 250 million trees as part of a government plan to tackle climate change. AP
You know those online petitions? Sometimes they do work. Following a campaign that garnered more than 280,000 e-mails from concerned shoppers, beauty retailer Sephora has banned mink-fur eyelashes. Independent
Following a concerted reintroduction effort two decades ago, Kentucky is now home to the largest population of elk east of the Mississippi. Their home? The hillsides of former coal mines. NYT
COVID-19 is poised to usher in the biggest retreat for global meat eating in decades. Global per-capita consumption in 2020 will fall to the lowest in nine years and the 3% drop from last year represents the biggest decline since at least 2000. Bloomberg
16 MAY 2020 - 26 JUNE 2020
Renewables have toppled coal in energy generation in the United States for the first time since 1885, the year that Mark Twain published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and America’s first skyscraper was erected in Chicago. EIA
Denmark’s government has approved a new climate plan quadrupling total offshore wind energy capacity in the next decade, and including the construction of two titanic offshore ‘wind energy islands.’ KEFM
In the last three weeks, the world’s one-millionth public electric vehicle outlet was installed, Germany made it mandatory for all gas stations to include electric chargers, and the EU committed to one million public chargers by 2025, from fewer than 200,000 today.
New Zealand will provide free sanitary products in schools across the country in an effort to tackle period poverty - where girls and women are unable to afford or access sufficient menstrual hygiene products. CNN
The GAVI vaccines alliance has raised $8.8 billion to fund its immunisation programmes through to 2025, exceeded its target of $7.4 billion. This will help immunise 300 million more children against measles, polio and diphtheria. Reuters
More on vaccines - a supply agreement has been approved that lowers the price of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines from $3.50 to $2.00, resulting in millions of dollars in savings for both GAVI and lower income countries’ vaccine budgets. UNICEF
Lawmakers in Gabon have voted to decriminalise homosexuality, reversing a 2019 law. Sylvia Bongo, Gabon's First Lady, said that parliament had “restored a fundamental human right: that of loving, freely, without being condemned.” Thomson Reuters
Just as a brutal killing in America is helping change attitudes towards race, so has one in Iran, challenging traditions that have long devalued the lives and rights of women and children. Following the murder of Romina Ashrafi, lawmakers have approved a measure to criminalise child abuse and neglect, and are considering another criminalising sexual and physical abuse of women. CS Monitor
The Ashaninka people of the Amazon have won a decades long court battle against the forestry industry, setting a precedent that will “define hundreds of thousands of cases on environmental crimes in Brazil.” MPF
In 2005, all the waste from Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital, went to landfill. Today 68% of its waste is recycled, and its landfill receives almost 80% less rubbish, putting it at the top of Europe’s recycling leaderboard. Guardian
China is increasing environmental funding to $57.22 billion this year, up by almost 10% from 2019. It includes new national green development fund, and major new conservation programs in the Yangtze and Yellow river basins. Reuters
China has also removed dogs from the list of animals that can be treated as livestock. While the regulation didn’t come in time to stop the notorious Yulin dog festival, animal rights groups say it effectively ends the sale of live dogs for food and fur. SMH
The Dutch parliament has voted to permanently close the mink fur farms that were shut down following outbreaks of COVID-19, and will close all other remaining farms by the end of the year. Sentient Media
More than 45 transportation and energy companies, as well as dozens of private landowners, have agreed to create or maintain monarch butterfly habitats along ‘rights-of-way’ corridors across the United States. Mongabay
The European Commission is seeking to halve the use of ‘high-risk’ chemical pesticides by 2030 to halt the decline of pollinators. Reuters
Ethiopia planted four billion tree seedlings in 2019 (84% of them survived). This year, led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, more than 20 million people will plant five billion seedlings as part of the country’s Green Legacy Challenge. Quartz
28 APRIL 2020 - 15 MAY 2020
A decade ago over 40% of the UK’s electricity came from coal. This week, it clocked up its first full coal free month since the advent of the power grid in 1882. Gizmodo
Sweden has closed its last coal-fired power station two years ahead of schedule, becoming the third European country to exit coal. Independent
The world’s largest wealth fund has blacklisted Glencore, Anglo American, Sasol, AGL and four Canadian oil firms for excessive emissions. Reuters
Chile has become the 2nd South American country - and the 7th in the world - to update their national Paris Agreement climate action plan. Reuters
The IEA says greenhouse gas emissions will fall by more than 8% this year, the largest annual decrease ever recorded. NPR
Abu Dhabi has announced the lowest price ever for solar - 1.35 US cents per kWh. That’s 45% lower than just three years ago. Forbes
Sudan’s new government has outlawed the practice of female genital mutilation, a major victory for women’s rights campaigners. NYT
Pennsylvania has banned child marriage, the third state to fully outlaw the practice after Delaware and New Jersey. CBS
Germany's parliament has banned so-called "gay conversion therapy" the fifth nation to do so after Malta, Ecuador, Brazil and Taiwan. NBC
Brazil’s Supreme Court has overturned rules that limit gay and bisexual men from donating blood, a victory for LGBTQI+ people in the country. Reuters
An Israeli billionaire is planning to deliver hundreds of generators that can produce drinking water out of thin air to Gaza, “because they are our neighbors and it’s a great pity to look at them suffering from such severe water shortages.” Times of Israel
Canada has introduced an immediate ban on semi-automatic assault weapons. 1,500 models are covered by the new prohibition. NYT
Government data has shown that US traffic deaths fell in 2019 for the third straight year, even as overall road use increased. Reuters
The UK government has announced a £2 billion package to create a ‘new era’ for cycling and walking infrastructure in the wake of the pandemic.
The Welsh government has announced plans for a national forest running the length and breath of the country, "connected ecological network.” BBC
Wildlife experts in Belgium are getting excited to welcome the country's first set of wild wolf cubs in more than 100 years. Brussels Times
Bald eagles have made a huge comeback in Wisconsin in the last 45 years, thanks to the DDT ban, the passage of endangered species laws, river cleanups under the Clean Water Act and public support for nest monitoring. ABC
11 APRIL 2020 - 27 APRIL 2020
Coal continues its collapse in the EU, falling by 25.5% in the first quarter of 2020, and Austria has become the second European country to exit coal altogether, shutting down its last coal-fired power plant last week. Euractiv
The three largest banks in Japan - the #2 financier of new coal overseas - have just announced they will stop financing new coal power projects. Straits Times
South Korea has become the first Asian country to set a 2050 net zero emissions goal, following a landslide win by its Democratic Party. Electrek
German officials have agreed on an ‘eco-scrappage program’ to promote the uptake of electric vehicles in the country’s post-pandemic economy. Electrek
Poland and Denmark are refusing to bail out organisations based in tax havens, saying assistance will only go to companies paying domestic business taxes. BI
Saudi Arabia has abolished the practice of flogging convicts, and a day later, banned the death sentence for minors. DW
Virginia has become the first Southern state to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people for housing, employment and credit applications. The Hill
Virginia’s governor has also signed new gun controls that increase background checks, limit handgun purchases and establish ‘red flag’ laws. USA Today
A five year old ban preventing pregnant teenagers from attending school in Sierra Leone has been reversed by a new administration. Via News
France will require that all new public buildings must be made at least 50% from wood or other sustainable materials from 2022. Archinect
Remember the insect apocalypse? A new study says the picture is more mixed. While land species have declined by 9% per decade, freshwater species have risen by 11%, possibly due to efforts to clean up rivers and lakes. Science
After disappearing in England in the early 20th century, white-tailed eagles are back, thanks to a pioneering rewilding project. Country Living
Thanks to unprecedented conservation efforts, the number of black rhinos in Africa increased from an estimated 4,845 in 2012 to 5,630 in 2018. Phys.org
21 MARCH 2020 - 10 APRIL 2020
The British government called for a volunteer army to help the NHS. Within four days, 750,000 people had signed up — three times the original target, and the largest volunteer effort since World War II. WaPo
Support for Medicare for All has skyrocketed. 55% of US voters support it, and support for single-payer healthcare has jumped by 9 points. Morning Consult
New Zealand isn’t just flattening the curve - they’re squashing it, thanks to a masterclass in leadership from Jacinda Ardern. The Conversation
A family business in Adelaide that makes packaging for fast-food giants has swung into action to pump out a staggering 145 million masks. FiveAA
A group of 150 employees at a Tunisian factory have chosen to self-isolate for a month, and are now churning out 50,000 face masks a day. BBC
Shenzhen has become the first city in China to ban the eating of cats and dogs, due to fears of future viral outbreaks. DNA India
Amidst the economic fallout, fossil fuel companies have suffered a total bloodbath. Exxon and Peabody Coal are down a stunning 70% compared to 30% for the broader market. Financial Times
In Pakistan, people are pausing outside stores to offer zakat, the traditional Muslim charity tax, for those in need. BBC
Portugal has given all migrants and asylum-seekers full citizenship to ensure they can access public services for the duration of the outbreak. CNN
Shipments of PPE from Jack Ma and Alibaba have arrived in Ethiopia, and are now being distributed across the entire African continent. They include six million masks, over a million testing kits and 60,000 protective suits. Daily News
29 FEBRUARY 2020 - 20 MARCH 2020
Global carbon dioxide emissions from the power sector fell by 2% last year, the biggest fall since at least 1990. Reuters
Over 60% of global coal plants are now generating electricity at a higher cost than building new wind and solar. By 2030, it’ll be 100%. Money talks…
Tesla has just produced its one millionth electric car — the first company to achieve this milestone. It is now the world’s largest electric car maker. Electrek
Doctors in the DRC are celebrating as the last Ebola patient was sent home this month, marking the end of the most recent outbreak. CNN
Terrorist incidents in Pakistan decreased by 13% in 2019, and deaths from terrorism fell by 40% compared to 2018. Dawn
A new report by UNESCO shows that since 2000, the world has reached gender parity (equal numbers of boys and girls) for primary and secondary education, as well as youth literacy. Only adult literacy now remains.
Malawi has decriminalised cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes, following in the footsteps of Zimbabwe, Zambia and Lesotho. Guardian
New Zealand has legalised abortion, treating the practice as a health matter rather than a criminal one. People will now be able to access abortions from a health practitioner in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stuff
In a first for the Arab world, an LGBTQI+ advocacy group has been granted legal protection by Tunisian courts. Al-Monitor
After a decades-long campaign by civil society groups, China has abolished a rule that allowed police to detain sex workers without trial. The Diplomat
Spain is changing its laws to prioritise consent in cases of violence against women. It’s being called the "only yes means yes" law. BBC
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has passed a law declaring that a husband has no right over his wife’s property without her consent. Tribune
In a major victory for press freedom, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has ruled against Ecuador for illegally prosecuting a newspaper. Knight Centre
Peru’s recent crackdown on illegal mining has been a big success, cutting deforestation by 92% since kicking off in February 2019. MAAP
A grassroots effort to restore Appalachia’s mountaintops has seen 187 million trees planted on over 1,000 km² of former mining sites. Seattle Times
Madagascar, one of the planet’s most biodiverse places, has launched a drive to plant 60 million trees to mark 60 years of independence. North Africa Post
In one of the largest reforestation projects in the world, Senegal has planted 152 million mangrove buds in the Casamance Delta in the past decade. BBC
Afghanistan has created its second largest national park, the Bamyan Plateau, home to the ibex, urial and the Persian leopard. Mongabay
15 FEBRUARY 2020 - 28 FEBRUARY 2020
Turkey's renewable energy capacity has increased by 11% every year for the past decade. Clean energy now provides 49% of electricity. Daily Sabah
Following years of pressure from activists, Canadian company Teck Resources is pulling out of planned operations in the oil sands. NYT
Following years of pressure from activists, Norwegian company Equinor is pulling out of planned exploration in the Great Australian Bight. SBS
India says it will stop importing thermal coal in the next four years (no doubt Adani will never bow to years of pressure from activists). Economic Times
Foster care adoptions in the US have reached an all time high. 63,000 kids were adopted in 2018, up by nearly a quarter since 2014. Pew
A landmark ruling by India’s Supreme Court means that women will now be granted the same rights as men in all the country’s armed forces. CNN
Colombia says it will allow hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants to legalise their presence in the country through work permits. Reuters
Between 1990 and 2017, the age-adjusted global death rate for cancer fell by 15%, mostly as a result of the worldwide decline in smoking. OWiD
Singapore has announced a ban on internal combustion engine vehicles by 2040, the first Southeast Asian country to do so. Next Web
China has implemented a complete and permanent ban on the eating, hunting, trading and transportation of all wild animals. SCMP
Blue whale populations are bouncing back. Observers have recorded ‘unprecedented’ numbers in the waters around South Georgia. Independent
1 FEBRUARY 2020 - 14 FEBRUARY 2020
Coal generation in the EU collapsed by 24% in 2019, and is now less than half its level in 2007. This led to a 12% fall in power sector carbon emissions – the biggest fall since 1990. Sandbag
The United Kingdom has brought its ban on petrol and diesel powered cars forward by five years, from 2040 to 2035. BBC
The number of foster care adoptions in the United States has reached a record high, up by almost a quarter since 2014. Pew
Swiss voters have overwhelmingly backed a proposal to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and sexual identity illegal. BBC
The proportion of 16-18 year old females in England infected by HPV has dropped to zero. In 2008, when vaccinations began, it was 15%. Gov.uk
The prevalence of female genital mutilation in the Kurdistan region of Iraq has fallen by more than 75% in a single generation. UNFPA
Thanks to new regulations on marketing, Chile has cut the purchases of sugary drinks by nearly a quarter in the last two years. NYT
New York has passed the most bird-friendly building policy in the US, which could reduce collision risks by up to 90%. Architectural Digest
Rhino poaching has dropped significantly in South Africa, the 5th consecutive year of declines following major crackdowns on poaching. News24
The world’s largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to brain damage, will stop producing the chemical by the end of the year. WaPo
11 JANUARY 2020 - 31 JANUARY 2020
The world’s largest money manager is putting climate at the centre of its $7 trillion strategy (high signal value, less clear on substance). More signals: the world’s most profitable hedge fund manager is forcing companies in its portfolio to reduce emissions and reveal exposure to climate risk.
Solar energy’s share of the power mix in India increased from 7.9% to 9.6% in 2019, and renewables now account for 36% of installed capacity. Mercom
Vietnam went from almost no solar in 2017 to more than Australia by the end of 2019. It’s now ten years ahead of its original clean energy targets. Economist
China’s birthrate has fallen to its lowest level since 1949, and is now below that of England and Wales. Al Jazeera
HIV infections in the UK have plummeted since 2012, especially for gay/bisexual men, falling by 71% due to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). BBC
The Dutch Cancer Registry says that the five year cancer survival rate in the Netherlands has increased from 42% in 1989 to 65% in 2018. NOS
Utah has become the 19th and most conservative state in the United States to ban conversion therapy for minors. NPR
Following improvements in cycling infrastructure, the average number of bicycle trips in Paris has increased by 54% in a single year. T&E
Germany is converting 62 military bases west of the old Iron Curtain into nature reserves for eagles, woodpeckers, bats, and beetles. Independent
Peru has begun reforesting the area around Machu Picchu, with plans to plant one million trees on the site in the next five years. France24
A huge survey of the world’s fisheries says overfishing has been reversed for half the world’s catch, and where fisheries are being managed, stocks are above target levels or rebuilding. Anthropocene
Bangladesh has announced a ban on single-use plastics in all coastal areas and in all hotels and restaurants by the end of 2020. Reuters
China has unveiled a major plan to reduce single-use plastics. Bags will be banned in major cities by the end of 2020 and in all towns by 2022. BBC
1 DECEMBER 2019 - 10 JANUARY 2020
In 2019, renewables produced 43% of electricity in Germany, wind power alone contributed 47% of electricity in Denmark, carbon emissions from electricity in Spain fell by 33%, zero carbon electricity outstripped fossil fuels in the United Kingdom for the first time ever, and in the United States, overall emissions fell by 2.1%.
The WHO says 11 countries received 18 million doses of its new cholera vaccine in 2018, bringing the number of global cases down by 60%. UN
The Philippines has become the first country with a serious vitamin A deficiencies to approve genetically modified golden rice. New Scientist
US cancer death rates dropped 29% between 1991 to 2017, and the most recent update saw the largest single-year decline in mortality ever reported. NYT
Pakistan’s security forces are reporting a 31% reduction in terror and counter-terror related deaths in 2019. The Tribune
As of last month, more than half of Colombia’s municipalities are free of landmines, and the country is on track to remove all mines by 2021. Reuters
Indian Railways recorded zero passenger deaths in rail accidents in 2019, making it the national transporter's safest year in history. Economic Times
Child marriage in Bangladesh has dropped by two thirds in the past 20 years, and the country is on track to for zero under-15 marriages by 2021. IFPRI
Tunisia has become the first Arab nation to begin providing sex education for elementary and middle school students. Washington Post
Following a major drive to tackle pollution, water quality in China has improved significantly: since 2003, average chemical oxygen demand is down 63% and ammonium nitrogen levels have dropped by 78%. Phys.org
China has also banned all commercial fishing on the Yangtze – the first ban ever for Asia’s longest river - to restore aquatic life. SCMP
As of the 1st January 2020, single-use plastic plates, cups, and cotton buds are not allowed in France; straws and cutlery will follow in 2021. France24
9 NOVEMBER 2019 - 29 NOVEMBER 2019
The world’s largest multilateral financial institution, The European Investment Bank, has agreed to stop all financing for fossil fuels within the next two years. Guardian
New Zealand has passed a bill to reach zero carbon by 2050, will plant a billion trees in the next decade, and run its grid entirely from clean energy by 2035. Independent
India and Pakistan have opened a peace corridor on their border, allowing Sikhs to visit their second holiest site for the first time in 72 years. Al Jazeera
The number of children dying from pneumonia, "the ultimate disease of poverty," has decreased from 6,410 per day in 1990 to 2,216 per day in 2017. OWiD
Germany has passed a law requiring all children attending school to be immunised, with fines for parents who do not comply. NYT
Cigarette smoking among US adults has reached an all-time low of 13.7% — a decline of approximately two-thirds in the last 50 years. CDC
A new survey across 167 countries has shown that tolerance towards LGBTQIA+ people has risen in almost every region of the world in the last decade. Japan Times
The United States has passed a new law outlawing animal cruelty, punishable with fines and up to seven years imprisonment. WaPo
Thailand will phase out all plastics that degrade into fragments by the end of this year, and will ban plastic bags, styrofoam, cups and straws by 2022. Xinhua
Zambia's government has bowed to pressure and banned any future mining activities in the lower reaches of the Zambezi River. Zambian Eye
19 OCTOBER 2019 - 8 NOVEMBER 2019
The largest private coal company in the United States has filed for bankruptcy, the fourth major fossil fuels company to go under there this year. #MAGA. Bloomberg
The Australian electricity grid reached a new milestone in the first week of November 2019: for a few minutes, solar, wind and hydro met more than 50% of demand. Guardian
According to the World Bank, India has halved its poverty rate in the past 30 years, and zero extreme poverty in the next decade is now within reach.
Type 3 polio has officially become the second species of poliovirus to be eliminated. Only Type 1 now remains - and only in Pakistan and Afghanistan. STAT
In the biggest breakthrough for cystic fibrosis in decades, a new drug that targets the genetic roots of the disease has been approved by the FDA. WaPo
Between 1990 and 2019, cancer mortality rates fell by 18% in Argentina, 26% in Chile, 14% in Colombia, 17% in Mexico and 13% in Venezuela, corresponding to almost 500,000 avoided deaths. Int J Cancer
Northern Ireland has officially legalised the right of women to decide what to do with their own bodies, and the right of people to marry anyone they choose. HRW
The murder rate in India has dropped to its lowest level in 54 years. Traditional theories of criminal justice are at a loss to explain why. Times of India
Toxic air pollution in London has fallen by roughly a third inside a new ultra low emissions zone that was launched 6 months ago. NPR
After an 18 year campaign, environmental campaigners have successfully saved one of the most important wetland areas in the Balkans from development. MongaBay
In a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists, fracking has been halted in the United Kingdom with immediate effect. BBC
5 OCTOBER 2019 - 18 OCTOBER 2019
In the third quarter of 2019, wind, solar, biomass and hydro generated more electricity than coal, oil and gas in the United Kingdom. Carbon Brief
Carbon emissions are now falling in 30 of the world's cities, averaging 22% below their peak. Curious to know if you live in one of them? Check it out. CityLab
A new study covering 90% of the world's population shows the international homicide rate has dropped by 20% since 1990. Eureka Alert
Bolivia has been more effective at combating extreme poverty than any other South American country, slashing it from 33% in 2006 to 15% in 2018. WaPo
Nepal has been declared as an open defecation free country. Eight years ago, 9 million people did not have access to clean sanitation facilities. Rising Nepal
30,000 children in Cambodia have been rescued from hard labour in the past five years, and 180,000 prevented from being child workers. Phnom Penh Post
Nigeria, in partnership with the WHO, just immunized over 51 million children in a single month during its annual national immunization campaign. ReliefWeb
Sometimes you have to wonder what it takes to make the headlines. Children must be an easy sell right? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??!! Apparently not. Save the Children just released their 2019 Global Childhood Report showing that in the last 20 years, children's lives have improved in 173 out of 176 countries. Today there are:
- 4.4 million fewer child deaths per year
- 49 million fewer stunted children
- 130 million more children in school
- 94 million fewer child laborers
- 11 million fewer girls forced into marriage or married early
- 3 million fewer teen births per year
- 12,000 fewer child homicides per year
Not a peep from media outlets anywhere…
Grown-ups don't get a look in either. Did you hear that stroke rates for US adults over the age of 65 have decreased by 32% each decade for the last 30 years. Reuters
Under the United States' Affordable Care Act (ACA), nearly 2 million diabetics, many of them poor, have received access to health insurance. US News
Sales of plastic bags in England’s largest supermarkets have fallen by 90% in the four years since the government introduced a 5p levy. ICAEW
The Welsh government just planted the ten millionth tree in the heavily-deforested region of Mount Elgon region in eastern Uganda. The Ecologist
Bottlenose dolphins are living and breeding in the Potomac River again for the first time since the 1880s, following 50 years of restoration efforts. Smithsonian
New surveys suggest there are now 25,000 individuals humpback whales in the southwest Atlantic - back to 90% of pre-whaling levels. BBC
For the first time since 1870, herds of bison are roaming the Badlands National Park in South Dakota. 1,200 bison now have 80,000 acres to graze. WWF
21 SEPTEMBER 2019 - 4 OCTOBER 2019
Australia's per capita levels of clean energy are the fastest growing in the world. Between 2018 and 2020, Australia will install 220 watts per person per year - nearly three times more than the next fastest country, Germany. The Conversation
The largest retail company in the world says it will run entirely on renewable energy by 2030 and will be fully carbon neutral by 2040. The Verge
Nine Latin American countries just set a collective target of 70% renewable energy use by 2030, more than double what the European Union is planning. Reuters
Melanoma is one of the most common forms of cancer in the UK. Ten years ago, one in twenty people survived. Today the survival rate is more than 50%. BBC
Russian alcohol consumption has decreased by 43% since 2003. As a result average life expectancy in 2018 reached its highest level ever. BBC
Italian officials are saying that after a decades long battle, the Sicilian Mafia has been brought to its knees and is now a ghost of its former self. Guardian
Abortion is now legal in every state in Australia, Oaxaca has become the second state in Mexico to give women autonomy over their own bodies and in the US, abortion rates have reached their lowest level since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. CNN
In 1990 the global annual death rate for children under the age of five was 82 for every 1,000 live births. In 2018, it was 37 per 1,000 live births. WaPo
The literacy rate for Palestinians over the age of 15 has increased from 86.1% in 1997 to 97.2% in 2018. Palestine Chronicle
China now has equal numbers of girls and boys in primary and high school, and more than half of university students are women, from less than a quarter in 1978. Xinhua
A new report on the social performance of 149 countries in the last five years, using indicators like nutrition, shelter, safety, education, health, rights and inclusiveness, says only four countries have regressed overall since 2014. First Post
China's tree stock rose by 4.56 billion m³ between 2005 and 2018, deserts are shrinking by 2,400 km² a year, and forests now account for 22% of land area. SCMP
7 SEPTEMBER 2019 - 20 SEPTEMBER 2019
Coal shipments to the United States have fallen to their lowest since 1983 - and the dramatic reduction of coal in the country's energy mix has reduced deaths from air pollution and cut the cost of damages by more than $200 billion. Ars Technica
The number of cigarettes being smoked in the UK fell by nearly a quarter between 2011 and 2018 - meaning 1.4 billion fewer cigarettes smoked every year. Cancer UK
Saudi Arabia says women may now travel overseas, register births, marriage & divorce, receive family documents and be eligible as guardians to minors. Reuters
Indonesia has lifted the minimum legal age for marriage to 19. Previously, girls of 16 could be married (and there was no minimum age if parents requested it). Reuters
The United States' poverty rate has reached its lowest point since 2001. There were 1.4 million fewer people living in poverty in 2018 than in 2017. US Census
The Canadian government has lifted almost 900,000 people out of poverty since 2016, including 300,000 children. CBC
The Asian Development Bank says that Pakistan's extreme poverty rate fell from 28.6% of total population in 2001 to 3.9% in 2015. APP
California has banned the operation of private prisons - a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. Guardian
Four years after the WHO declared Delhi the world’s most polluted city, the government has announced that pollution has dropped by 25%. Indian Express
A year ago, Chile began a campaign to ban plastic straws. Since then, 200 million fewer straws have been delivered to shops and restaurants. Emol
11 AUGUST 2019 - 6 SEPTEMBER 2019
Refugees are integrating into Germany's job market far quicker than expected. Around 400,000 people of working age are now employed. The Local
Five months after the 'ghost battalion' overthrew the dictatorship, Sudan's leaders have signed a landmark deal for transition to civilian government. Al Jazeera
Speaking of Sudan, a campaign begun in April 2019 has managed to provide 13 million children with vaccines against measles and polio. ReliefWeb
Dementia is declining in Australia. The hospitalisation rate has dropped by almost a quarter – from 408 per 100,000 people in 2007 to 313 in 2017. AAA
A new cure for tuberculosis (the world's leading infectious cause of death) has been approved by the US FDA, clearing the path for global distribution. NYT
The new Ebola vaccine is working miracles. Over 200,000 people have been innoculated, and the mortality rate has dropped from 70% to as low as 6%. The Brink
Canada's government has partnered with Inuit custodians to create its largest marine reserve ever. The country now protects 14% of its oceans. National Observer
In the first half of 2019, Beijing reported its lowest level of air pollutants since the city first started monitoring air quality 35 years ago. CX Tech
169 countries at the UN have just agreed to significant new protections for elephants, giraffes, sharks and rays and dozens of other species. New Scientist
More than 100 seal pups have been born on the shores of the Thames, 60 years after the river was declared 'biologically dead.' Telegraph
NASA says that the number of fires around the world is decreasing. Between 2003 and 2019, the area of land being burned has fallen by around 25%
20 JULY 2019 - 10 AUGUST 2019
Electricity generation from coal power stations across Europe fell by nearly one fifth in the first half of 2019, the steepest decline ever recorded. New Scientist
In the second quarter of 2019 the Tesla Model 3 was not only the best selling car in its segment in the United States, but outsold all of its petrol and diesel powered equivalents combined. Elektrek
Last year, Japan saw its population decrease by over 444,000 people, the tenth straight year of declines, and the largest annual decrease since the end of World War Two. Mercatornet
Sri Lanka has been declared free of measles, the fourth country in south-east Asia to reach this milestone after Bhutan, Maldives and Timor-Leste. The country reported its last homegrown case of the virus in May 2016. WHO
Americans are becoming more tolerant. A major survey of attitudes towards sexuality, race, skin tone, age, disability and body weight has shown that explicit bias has decreased in all six categories since 2007; ranging from 49% (sexuality) to 15% (body weight). Implicit bias also decreased—33% for sexuality, 17% for race and 15% for skin tone. Scientific American
A decade ago, Scotland adopted a nationwide ban on indoor smoking. Over the next decade there was a 13% reduction in heart attacks for people over the age of 60. Reuters
Panama has become the first Central American nation to ban single-use plastic bags, joining more than 60 other countries that have passed total or partial bans, or introduced taxes to reduce their use. Reuters
Ethiopia has smashed the world record for tree planting. Led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, millions of Ethiopians planted more than 350 million trees in 12 hours on the 29th July. BBC
Since 1990, thanks to better protection and a decline in farming, France’s wooded or forested areas have increased by nearly 7%. Forests now cover 31% of the country. Economist
The population of tigers is recovering in India. The tiger population has risen from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018, an increase of over one third. This is a major conservation success. BBC
6 JULY 2019 - 19 JULY 2019
In the first six months of 2019, sun, wind, water and biomass produced more electricity in Germany, the world's fourth largest economy, than coal and nuclear combined. DW
In the first six months of 2019, Scottish wind turbines generated enough electricity to power 4.47 million homes - almost double the number of homes in Scotland. CNBC
According to the United Nations, in 2018, global HIV-related deaths fell to 770,000, 33% lower than in 2010 when 1.2 million deaths were recorded. DW
A new report by UNESCO says that between 2006 and 2016, India, Ethiopia and Peru achieved significant improvements in nutrition, sanitation, child mortality, drinking water, schooling, electricity access and housing. India alone lifted 271 million people out of poverty during this period. Understandably there's been wall-to-wall coverage of this story on every major global news channel. The Hindu
New diabetes cases in the US have declined by 35% since 2009, the longest decline since the government started tracking the statistic nearly 40 years ago. STAT
Mali has announced it will begin providing free healthcare for pregnant women and children under five. Universal healthcare, not just for rich countries. Guardian
Drug overdose deaths in America declined by around 5% last year, the first drop since 1990. It's almost entirely due to better control of opioid painkillers. NYT
Last year crime rates in the 30 largest cities in the US declined by 3.5%, violent crime by 4% and murders by 8%. Did someone just say 'hellholes?' Brennan Centre
Ethiopia has kicked off a new campaign to plant four billion trees and will monitor progress with a satellite the country is launching in November.
Since introducing new fuel efficiency rules a decade ago New York has cut nitrous oxide and particulate emissions from taxis by 82% and 49%, respectively. Nature
Costa Rica has just signed a new law banning the importation, commercialisation and delivery of all styrofoam containers and packaging. Costa Rica News
South Africa has nearly doubled its number of marine protected areas, increasing the proportion of conserved territorial waters from 0.4% to 5.4%. Cape Talk
For the first time in 17 years there will be no commercial whaling in Iceland after the sole company certified to hunt whales failed to renew its license in time. Newsweek
15 JUNE 2019 - 5 JULY 2019
Los Angeles has announced the largest, cheapest solar + storage project in the world, at half the cost of a new natural gas plant. Wright's Law FTW. Forbes
Ireland has joined the growing list of countries that say new petrol and diesel powered vehicles will not be allowed on the roads after 2030. BBC
8.8 million Nepalis have gained access to electricity since 2010, and officials say the country is on track for universal access by 2022. Kathmandu Post
Heart disease rates in the UK have declined significantly - it's still the leading cause of mortality, but deaths have decreased by almost half since 2005. Telegraph
Good news from North Korea. According to the WHO, smoking rates have declined by 8.4% since 2012, thanks to a government-led anti-smoking campaign. DailyNK
Rates of HPV in Britain have fallen by 86% among young women aged 15 to 19 since they started being vaccinated in schools in 2008. Times
UNESCO says that 19 African countries have reached gender parity (equal numbers of boys and girls) in primary education in the past decade. Brookings
Kenya's High Court has ruled that rape survivors have the right to an abortion, a landmark ruling in a country where abortion is still illegal. Reuters
An estimated 10,000 LGBTQIA+ teens in the US have been protected from conversion therapy in states that have banned the practice since 2012. NBC
Canada has passed its most progressive Fisheries Act in history; for the first time since 1868, there's a legally binding requirement to rebuild fish populations. Oceana
The Scottish government has met its annual tree planting targets for the first time. 11,200 hectares were planted last year, a significant increase on 2017. BBC
Since 2000, the area of land dedicated for livestock pasture around the world has declined by 1.4 million square kilometers — an area the size of Peru. MongaBay
Thanks to rigorous anti-poaching strategies, one of Africa’s largest wildlife reserves has just gone a year without losing a single elephant. Independent
1 JUNE 2019 - 14 JUNE 2019
Germany produced 47% of its electricity from clean sources in the first five months of 2019, putting it well ahead of its 2025 targets. Renew Economy
The number of people killed in wars around the world has reached it lowest level in seven years, and battle fatalities have fallen by 43% since 2014. PRIO
In a landmark victory for Africa's LGBTQI+ activists, Botswana's High Court has decriminalized homesexuality, overturning a colonial-era law. Independent
The number of malaria cases in India was cut by almost half last year, an indication that the country’s malaria elimination programme is succeeding. HT
In Rwanda, 95% of babies are now receiving vaccinations for rubella, measles and polio, and it's also on track to be the first country to eliminate cervical cancer. CNN
Inspired by the EU, Canada has announced it will phase out harmful single use plastics, such as water bottles, plastic bags and straws, by 2021. HuffPo
Vietnamese authorities have banned herbicides containing glyphosate after it was discovered that the substance causes cancer. Asia Times
Israel has partnered with seven other, mostly Muslim countries, to collaborate on a research project in the Red Sea. Science diplomacy FTW. Times of Israel
Canada has banned whales, dolphins and porpoises in captivity, as well as the trade, possession, capture and breeding of cetaceans. NPR
An area nearly twice the size of England will become a 'blue belt' of protected waters after the government created 41 new marine conservation zones. Guardian
18 MAY 2019 - 31 MAY 2019
The UK's astonishing coal free run continues - 13 days and counting. The National Grid says the country has not switched on its coal plants since 18th of May.
Algeria and Argentina have officially eliminated malaria. That means there are now 38 countries free from one of humanity's most devastating killers. CNN
The AIHW says that more people are surviving cancer in Australia than ever before. Since 1989, the mortality rate has dropped by 32% for men and by 21% for women.
In the last three decades, dementia rates in Europe and North America have declined by an average of 15% per decade (and they're also declining in Australia).
The WHO has officially decided to remove 'gender identity disorder' from its list of mental illnesses. Welcome to the 21st century folks. CBS
A majority in Brazil's Supreme Court has voted in favour of criminalising homophobia and transphobia, making them the equivalent of racism. BBC
In 2018, employment reached its highest ever rate in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, and 22 other OECD countries. Did someone just say robots? Economist
New research says US states that legalised marijuana have experienced a remarkable decline in serious injury from domestic violence. C'mon 'Straya. Green State
Bangladesh has banned all fishing off its coast for 65 days. All vessels will be covered by the ban, and it will be carefully enforced by coast guards. BBC
Staggering numbers of whales are being sighted off the shores of New York. Cleaner waters have caused a 540% increase in numbers in just eight years. Newsweek
4 MAY 2019 - 17 MAY 2019
Last year, more global coal capacity was closed than approved for the first time since the 19th century, and the UK just had its first coal-free week since 1882. BBC
Chile has reached its 2025 clean energy targets six years ahead of schedule, and says it's now on track for 70% electricity from renewables by 2030. BN Americas
The world's largest car supplier, Bosch, says it will be fully carbon neutral by 2020, making it the first major industrial company to take that step. Reuters
Big new dataset here, we've been waiting for this for a while. The proportion of people in extreme poverty has fallen from 36% in 1990 to 8.6% in 2018. Absolute numbers are down from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 610 million in 2018. ODI
The 2019 election in India is on track for the highest turnout in history, driven by unprecedented numbers of women voters, who may be the majority this year. Quartz
The number of people incarcerated in American prisons has declined again, to 1.48 million people, down from 1.61 million in 2009. Washington Post
New Global Burden of Disease Report says that between 1990 and 2017, deaths of kids and teenagers decreased by 51.7%, from 13.77 million to 6.64 million. CNN
The United Nations says that 187 countries have agreed to control the movement of plastic waste between national borders, in an effort to curb waste. CNN
Tanzania has become the latest country to implement a plastic ban. From the 1st June, no one will be allowed to produce, import, sell or use plastic bags. WWF
California, the United States' most productive agricultural state, has banned a widely used pesticide blamed for harming brain development in babies. Associated Press
Costa Rica has doubled its forest cover in the last 30 years; half its land surface is now covered with trees, a huge carbon sink and a big draw for tourists. NYT
19 APRIL 2019 - 3 MAY 2019
Renewable energy use in Japan in the last fiscal year increased by 10%, and emissions fell by 1.2% - the fourth straight year of decline. Japan Times
New York just passed a law requiring any new building to have a roof with either plants, solar panels, wind turbines, or a combination of all three. Dwell
The UN says that family planning and more education have caused a 'significant decline' in India’s population growth rate since 2010. The Print
A new Ebola vaccine given to more than 90,000 people in the DRC has been shown to be 97.5% effective. Next challenge? Distribution. STAT
The Philippines has passed a Universal Health Care Act, entitling all of its 107 million citizens to health insurance and access to medical treatment. WHO
Malawi has become the first country to begin immunising children against malaria, and similar programmes are about to start in Kenya and Ghana. Independent
Deaths after surgery in Scotland have dropped by more than a third since 2008, thanks to the use of a safety checklist. Sometimes, the solutions are simple. BBC
China says it's lifting a law that requires animal testing for cosmetic products. From 2020, non-animal tests will be the preferred method. IIVS
The indigenous Waorani community of Ecuador has won a landmark case against oil companies, protecting 180,000 hectares of their land against exploitation. Al Jazeera
Canada has unveiled new standards for its marine protected areas, banning all oil-and-gas activity, as well as mining, dumping and bottom-trawling. Globe & Mail
Chile has formally taken over the management of 407,000 hectares of pristine national parks, thanks to the largest private land donation in history. Reuters
30 MARCH 2019 - 18 APRIL 2019
Malawi has eliminated trachoma, the second African country to do so after Ghana. In 2014 more than 8 million people were at risk. Today, that number is zero.
The introduction of routine HPV vaccinations for young women in Scotland ten years ago has wiped out 90% of cases of cervical pre-cancer. BBC
In an effort to reduce period poverty, British Columbia has become the first Canadian province to provide free tampons and pads to all students. CBC
Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions fell by 4.2% in 2018, the first major decrease in Europe’s biggest economy in four years. Associated Press
In Madrid, a ban on vehicles in the city centre has reduced levels of nitrogen oxide by 38%, and Barcelona is now planning a similar ban for next year.
Paris has ordered 800 new electric buses as it begins the process of replacing its old fleet. It's the largest public EV order in European history. Elektrek
Chicago is now the largest city in the United States to commit to getting 100% of its energy from clean sources. PV Magazine
Between 2000 and 2015, houses with adequate sanitation, sufficient living area and reliable construction doubled in sub-Saharan Africa, from 11% to 23%. Nature
The Gambia has become the 22nd country to ratify the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), meaning it now has enough signatories to go into force. This is a massive boost - the biggest free trade agreement since the WTO. WEF
South Korea used to recycle 2% of its food waste. In 2013, the government introduced compulsory collection. Now they recycle 95%. C'mon Australia. HuffPo
Germany has closed its last fur farm three years ahead of schedule, signalling the end of the fur trade in yet another European country. PETA
Ecologists have confirmed that the Netherlands has its first resident wolf population in 140 years, and that the first Dutch wolf pack could be months away. BBC
Belize has approved a plan to protect 12% of its territorial waters, doubling the size of ocean reserves around the world’s second largest barrier reef. Reuters
15 MARCH 2019 - 29 MARCH 2019
Volkswagen, the largest car manufacturer in the world, responsible for 1% of global carbon emissions, has committed to going fully carbon neutral by 2050. NYT
America has officially entered coal cost crossover. 74% of existing coal plants now cost more to operate than to replace with wind and solar. Utility Dive
Between 10th and 17th March, Germany got 72.6% of its electricity from renewable energy resources. Did someone just say "baseload power?" Renew Economy
In January 2015, at the height of ISIS's power, 7.7 million people were estimated to live under its rule. As of last week, that number is zero. CNN
Between 2010 and 2013, India ran a measles vaccination campaign. A new study estimates that it saved the lives of about 50,000 children. Nature
This year will see almost two billion people in 50 countries vote, the largest number in history. Did someone just say "death of democracy?" Al Jazeera
Indian tech billionaire Azim Premji is giving away $21 billion to philanthropy, the fifth largest endowment in the world and the biggest in Asia. ET Tech
Clever win by animal rights activists. Australia has passed a law that prevents companies using data from animal testing for developing cosmetics. The Age
Deep in the frozen forests of Russia's far east, the Siberian tiger is staging a quiet comeback, thanks to government-led conservation efforts. CBC
23 FEBRUARY 2019 - 14 MARCH 2019
The biggest global story you haven't heard about right now is India's sanitation drive. Since 2014, 90 million toilets have been built, 93% of households now have access, and 500 million people have stopped defecating in the open. Economic Times
California, the fifth largest economy in the world, has reached its 33% clean energy target two years ahead of schedule, and petrol sales are officially decreasing.
The UK, the sixth largest economy in the world, has reduced its carbon emissions for the sixth year in a row. The last time emissions were this low was 1888. Carbon Brief
The Finnish parliament has approved a ban on the use of all coal to produce energy by 2029. After that date, coal will only be allowed in an emergency. Reuters
Canada's poverty rate has reached the lowest level ever recorded. The proportion of people below the poverty line is now 9.5%, down from 15.6% in 2006. CBC
Using a new data-based approach, three cities in the United States have ended chronic homelessness, and nine have ended veteran homelessness. FastCo
In a bid to curb obesity, London's public transport authority will no longer allow advertising for unhealthy food anywhere on its network. BBC
The Indian state of Tamil Nadu, home to 80 million people, has imposed a full ban on the usage, manufacture, storage, supply and sale of single use plastic. ICD
New Zealand just expanded the Kahurangi National Park by 64,000 hectares, the largest addition of land to a national park in the country's history. NZ Herald
In the last five years, Kenya's poaching rates have dropped by 85% for rhinos and 78% for elephants. In 2018, elephant poaching alone dropped by 50%.
9 FEBRUARY 2019 - 22 FEBRUARY 2019
Sales of fossil-fuelled vehicles are now officially on the decline in the world’s three largest car markets: China, Europe and the United States. Clean Technica
Remember bird flu, the disease that was going to be the next global pandemic? There hasn't been a single H5N1 human infection since February 2017. STAT
Global health experts at the UN have recommended that marijuana and its key components be formally rescheduled under international drug treaties. Forbes
Pakistan experienced an unprecedented drop in violence last year. Violence-related casualties declined by 45%, and have dropped by 86% since 2013. The News
The rate of victimisation from violent crimes for teenagers in the United States is now one sixth of what it was in the mid 1990s. Child Trends
The US Senate has passed its most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting 1.3 million acres and withdrawing 370,000 acres from mining. LA Times
After watching an animated film about abandoned dogs, the mayor of Seoul has announced the city will shut down all remaining dog butcheries. Korea Times
The number of rhinos killed by poachers fell by 25% last year thanks to South Africa's efforts to save the endangered species, the fifth annual decrease in a row.
Satellite data from NASA says that compared to the early 2000s, the planet now has five million extra square kilometres of green leaf area per year – a 5% increase.
25 JANUARY 2019 - 8 FEBRUARY 2019
Germany, the fourth largest consumer of coal on the planet, has announced it will shut down all 84 power plants in the next 19 years. C'mon Australia. LA Times
India added 17.6 GW of power generation capacity in 2018 (the equivalent of nine Hoover Dams) and 74% of it was clean, mostly solar. Clean Technica
Sweden has announced a ban on the sale of gasoline and diesel engines after 2030, joining Denmark, India, the Netherlands, Ireland and Israel. Electrive
As predicted, global terror attacks fell by 33% last year, and deaths halved. Attacks by Daesh fell by 71%. Naturally this was front page news everywhere. IHS
The WHO says there are now adequate supplies of the new Ebola vaccine to control the latest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. STAT
Big legal milestone for human rights in Europe. Germans can now choose 'diverse' as an option for gender on their birth certificates and other records. NYT
Angola has become the latest African country to decriminalise same-sex conduct, overturning the penal code it inherited from colonisation. HRW
The largest rewilding project in Australian history, the Great Southern Ark, has just begun on the Yorke Peninsula, providing a safe haven for 20 native species.
Tanzania has created a new protected area, the Magombera Reserve, protecting the endangered Udzungwa red colobus monkey and Verdcourt's Polyalthia tree. PSMag
1 JANUARY 2019 - 24 JANUARY 2019
Nothing like a little east west rivalry to speed up the energy transition. New York just one-upped California, committing to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Utility Dive
In the last four years, the Indian government has provided 100 million families with gas connections, meaning they no longer have to cook over wood stoves. The Print
It's now looking very likely that 2018 was the peak year globally for sales of cars with internal combustion engines. The EV revolution is here folks. The Drive
The Powering Past Coal Alliance has added two more countries to its list, with Senegal and Israel announcing that they will stop all use of coal by 2030. Reuters
The Economist is reporting that democracy had a good year in 2018. Only 42 countries experienced a decline, while 48 improved. Progress isn't a straight line.
The Malaysian government has started providing free healthcare insurance for the country's poorest 40%, providing coverage against 36 critical illnesses. Malay Mail
The number of suicides in Japan dropped by 3.4% last year, the ninth annual decrease in a row, and the lowest rate since records began in 1978. Japan Today
The latest Global Terrorism Index says terrorism deaths dropped by 27% in 2017, the third consecutive year of improvement. 2018 is on track to be even better.
The number of financial institutions that fund banned cluster bombs fell from 166 in 2017, to 88 in 2018, and investments fell from $31 billion to $9 billion. Swiss Info
South Korea's ban on plastic bags has just kicked in and so has a ban on single use plastics in Bali, largely thanks to a five year campaign by two teenage sisters.
Argentina has created two new marine parks in the South Atlantic, covering an area of 96,000 square kilometres, bringing total protected ocean waters to 8%. Nat Geo
1 DECEMBER 2018 - 13 DECEMBER 2018
The world’s largest maritime shipping company is slowly ditching fossil fuels, and has just committed to eliminating all of its carbon emissions by the year 2050. It’s a key moment for maritime shipping. Quartz
Last year, 120 million people gained access to electricity. That means that for the first time in history, the number of people without access is less than one billion. IEA
Germany has announced one of the most ambitious waste management schemes in history. The government plans to recycle 63% of its total waste within the next four years, up from 36% today. DW
Following a ban by two of its biggest retailers, Australia has cut its plastic bag usage by 80% in the last three months, saving 1.5 billions bags from entering the waste stream. NY Post
Since 2010, global HIV/AIDS infection rates have fallen by 16% in adults and by 35% for children. Most countries are on track to eliminate infections by 2030. Undark
Tunisia has become the first Arab nation to pass a law giving women and men equal inheritance, overturning an old provision of Sharia Islamic law. Dhaka Tribune
25 million doses of a new cholera vaccine have been administered globally, and five countries are preparing to run the largest vaccination drive in history. UNICEF
Jean Paul Gaultier has become the latest fashion designer to ban fur, joining Gucci, Versace, Armani, and just about every major fashion house. Independent
9 NOVEMBER 2018 - 30 NOVEMBER 2018
A little perspective. Global suicide rates have dropped by 38% since 1994, saving 4 million lives, four times the number killed in combat during that time. Economist
Cigarette use among Americans has dropped to its lowest level since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started collecting data in 1965. CNN
In the DRC, doctors are winning the war on sleeping sickness. At the turn of the century there were 30,000 cases. Last year, there were 1,100. Guardian
More ammo for fun conversations with population-obsessed baby boomers. The global fertility rate (average number of children a woman gives birth to) has halved since 1950. Half the world's countries are now below replacement levels. BBC
Scotland is the first country in the world to include teaching of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex rights into its state schools curriculum. The Scotsman
Officials in South Korea are bulldozing the country's largest dog slaughterhouse. The reason? Years of campaigning by activists, and shifting tastes in millenials. BBC
The Republic of Congo has created its fifth national park, protecting western lowland gorillas, chimpanzees, elephants and other threatened wildlife. MongaBay
27 OCTOBER 2018 - 8 NOVEMBER 2018
The United States is on track to set a new record for coal plant closures this year, with 22 plants in 14 states totalling 15.4GW of capacity going dark. #MAGA. Clean Technica
Spain will shut down most of its coalmines by the end of this year, after the government agreed to early retirement for miners, re-skilling and environmental restoration. Guardian
In the last two decades, female genital mutilation has fallen from 57.7% to 14.1% in north Africa, from 73.6% to 25.4% in west Africa, and from 71.4% to 8% in east Africa. Guardian
Nepal has become the 54th country in the world, and the first country in South Asia, to pass a law banning corporal punishment for children. End Corporal Punishment
According to a new report by UNICEF, Bangladesh has reduced its child mortality rate by 78% since 1990, the largest reduction by any country in the world. Kinder-World
The Portuguese parliament has just passed a new law, approved with support of left-wing and right-wing lawmakers, banning the use of wild animals in circuses by 2024. Phys.org
The United Nations says that the ozone hole will be fully healed over the Arctic and the northern hemisphere by the 2030s, and in the rest of the world by 2060. Gizmodo
The European Parliament has voted for an extensive ban on single-use plastics, estimated to make up over 70% of marine litter. It will come into effect in 2021. Independent
250 of the world's major brands, including Coca Cola, Kellogs and Nestle, have agreed that 100% of their plastic packaging will be reused, recycled or composted by 2025. BBC
$10 billion (the largest amount ever for ocean conservation) has just been committed in Bali for the protection of 14 million square kilometres of the world’s oceans. MongaBay
The Kofan people of Sinangoe, in the Ecuadorian Amazon, have won a landmark legal battle to protect the headwaters of the Aguarico River, nullifying 52 mining concessions and freeing up more than 32, 000 hectares of primary rainforest. Amazon Frontlines
We usually try to keep our heads above the fray, but we can't help ourselves this time around. One of the big winners in the recent US midterms? SCIENCE. Nine new members of Congress have STEM or medical backgrounds and at least six have kept their seats. So good. Bloomberg
12 OCTOBER 2018 - 26 OCTOBER 2018
India installed 4.9GW of solar in the first half of this year, meaning it is now the second largest installer in the world for 2018 (first place is China). #MEGA. The Hindu
New York City, home to 8.6 million people, just went a whole weekend without any shootings for the first time in more than a decade. #MAGA? Time
Thanks to tougher anti gun laws, between 1990 and 2016, the rate of deaths from firearms in Australia went from 3.4 deaths per 100,000 people to 1 per 100,000. JCU
Malaysia has abolished the death penalty for all crimes and has halted all pending executions, a move hailed by human rights groups in Asia as a major victory. SMH
This one goes out to all our Malthusian fans. The United Nations says India’s fertility rate has halved since 1980, thanks to better family planning and fewer unwanted pregnancies.
Abiy Ahmed strikes again. Ethiopia now has the most diverse government in the country's history, with women ministers making up 50% of the new cabinet. Face2FaceAfrica
Marijuana is now legal in Canada. A major crack in the grass ceiling, and a wonderful moment for fans of evidence-based decision making everywhere. BBC
Thanks to stricter catch limits and better monitoring, the population of eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna has increased from 300,000 tons in 2005 to 530,000 tons today. NatGeo
27 SEPTEMBER 2018 - 11 OCTOBER 2018
Quietly and unannounced, humanity has just crossed an extraordinary milestone. For the first time in 10,000 years, more than half of the world is middle class. Brookings
The Journal of Peace Research says that global deaths from state based conflicts have declined for the third year in a row, and are now 32% lower than their peak in 2014.
Following 30 years of public health efforts, Malaysia has become the first country in the Western Pacific to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV and syphilis. MalayMail
According to the WHO, teenage drinking has declined across Europe, the continent with the highest rates of drinking in the world. The country with the largest decline? Britain.
It's not just the kids. Suicides among elderly Britons have dropped so much that the country now has one of the lowest rates in the rich world. Economist
Honduras had the highest homicide rate in the world in 2012. Murders have decreased by half since then, more than any other nation. Here's how they did it. Ozy
Denmark is the latest country to announce a ban on internal combustion engines. It will stop the sale of petrol or diesel cars in 2030, and hybrids by 2035. Bloomberg
Following China's ban on ivory last year, 90% of Chinese support it, ivory demand has dropped by almost half, and poaching rates are falling in places like Kenya. WWF
14 SEPTEMBER 2018 - 26 SEPTEMBER 2018
Japan's Marbeni, one of the world’s biggest power developers, has just announced it will no longer be building any new coal plants. Just 1,600 more plants to go! Quartz
A new global youth survey says that young people in all countries are more optimistic than adults, though there is widespread dissatisfaction with politicians. Nine in 10 teenagers in Kenya, Mexico, China, Nigeria and India report feeling positive about their future. Guardian
According to the UNDP, 271 million people in India moved out of poverty between 2005 and 2016, and the country's poverty rate has been cut nearly in half. Times of India
Youth crime in California has fallen so dramatically that many state detention centres, built in the 1990s in anticipation of a crime wave, are now sitting empty. Voice of San Diego
Theresa Kachindamoto, a female chief in Malawi, has established a new law to prevent child marriage and has annulled 850 child marriages across the country to date. Femalista
Three years after India made it compulsory to use plastic waste in road construction, there are now 100,000 kilometres of plastic roads in the country. Himalayan Times
Deforestation in Indonesia fell by 60% last year, as a result of a ban on clearing peatlands, new educational campaigns and better law enforcement. Ecowatch
The population of wild tigers in Nepal has nearly doubled in the last nine years, thanks to efforts by conservationists and increased funding for protected areas. Independent
31 AUGUST 2018 - 13 SEPTEMBER 2018
California has just unveiled the most ambitious climate target ever, with a commitment to making the world's fifth biggest economy carbon neutral by 2045. Vox
After 20 years, troops have been withdrawn and the Ethiopian and Eritrean border has been reopened at two key crossing points, reuniting hundreds of families. BBC
India’s highest court has just struck down a more than century-old prohibition on gay sex, calling the Victorian-era law “irrational, indefensible, and manifestly arbitrary.” Al Jazeera
In a huge step forward for gender equality, Morocco has passed a law that criminalizes violence against women, and imposes harsh penalties on perpetrators. Albawaba
New Zealand has become the latest country to outlaw single-use plastic shopping bags, and will phase them out over the next year. Time
France has become the first country in Europe to ban all five forms of neonicotinoid pesticides that researchers believe are killing off bees. Telegraph
The Malaysian government has announced it will not allow any further expansion of oil palm plantations, and that it intends to maintain forest cover at 50%. Malaymail
2 AUGUST 2018 - 30 AUGUST 2018
In 2000, trachoma threatened 2.8 million people in Ghana (15% of the population) with blindness. It is now the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to eliminate the disease. Devex
India is in the middle of the largest sanitation building spree of all time. Almost 80 million household toilets are estimated to have been built since 2014. Arkansas Democrat Gazette
In Germany, 26% of refugees admitted since 2015 are now employed and the share of MPs with migrant backgrounds has risen from 3% to 9% in the last two elections. Economist
Costa Rica's Supreme Court has ruled that the country's same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, and has given the government 18 months to change the law. BBC
Scotland has become the first nation in the world to guarantee free sanitary products to all students at schools, colleges, and universities. Quartz
The rate of prison recidivism (people who return to state prison after being released) in the United States has dropped by nearly a quarter over a recent seven-year period. Pew
Brazil cut its carbon emissions from deforestation by 610 million tons last year, reaching its 2020 climate change targets three years ahead of schedule. VOA
New Caledonia has agreed to place 28,000 square kilometres of its ocean waters under protection, including some of the world's most pristine coral reefs. Forbes
In the past three decades, southern Niger has been transformed by 200m new trees, part of the largest positive transformation of the environment in African history. Guardian
20 JULY 2018 - 1 AUGUST 2018
Guess which country had the largest overall reduction in carbon emissions in 2017? If you've been following us for a while you'll probably know the answer. #MAGA. Fortune
Sweden is on course to reach its renewable energy targets 12 years ahead of schedule, with wind turbines making its original 2030 goal achievable in 2018. The Local
South Africa, home to the world’s largest population of people living with HIV, has shocked health officials with a 44% decline in the number of new infections since 2012. Telegraph
Following months of campaigning by human rights activists, India's finance ministry has announced it will scrap the 12% GST on all sanitary products. BBC
New Zealand has become the second country in the world (after the Phillipines) to pass legislation granting victims of domestic violence 10 days paid leave. Guardian
In a major milestone for human rights in the Middle East, a Lebanese court has issued a new judgement holding that homosexuality is not a crime. Beirut
The number of homeless people in Japan has fallen to its lowest level in 15 years, following additional housing and counselling support from the government. Japan Times
Adidas is expecting to sell 5 million pairs of shoes made from ocean plastic this year, and it has committed to using only recycled plastic in its products by 2024. CNN
In California, the world’s smallest fox has been removed from the Endangered Species List, the fastest recovery of any mammal under the Endangered Species Act. Conservaca
7 JULY 2018 - 19 JULY 2018
Six sovereign wealth funds representing more than $3 trillion in assets have committed to only invest in companies that factor climate risks into their strategies. UNFCCC
Meet Ethiopia's new prime minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed. He's been in office for 100 days, has ended the 20 year war with Eritrea, and released over 7,600 political prisoners. BE
75% of Americans say immigration is good for the nation, the highest share since 2001, and only 29% say it should be decreased, the lowest share since 1965. NYT
Thanks to anti-pollution measures, parking restrictions and new cycle lanes, the number of vehicles on the streets of Paris has fallen by 6.5% since the beginning of 2018. road.cc
For the first time since 2005, and for only the second time on record, no one was killed by tornadoes in the United States in either May or June. USA Today
Seattle has become the first US city to ban plastic straws, and New York and Virigina have become the first two states to enact laws requiring mental health education in schools.
Spain is creating a new marine wildlife reserve for the migrations of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean and will prohibit all future fossil fuels exploration in the area. AP
Following 'visionary' steps by Belize, UNESCO has removed the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest in the world, from its list of endangered World Heritage Sites. BBC
22 JUNE 2018 - 6 JULY 2018
Ireland has become the world’s first country to divest from fossil fuels, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. Guardian
In 2017, the solar industry in the United States employed 250,000 people on a full time basis. Coal industry jobs are now less than half of that, at 92,000. #MAGA. Clean Technica
Between the 17th and 23rd June, the Qinghai province in China used only hydropower, wind and solar to generate energy for 6 million people. Business Insider
The share of black men in poverty in the US has fallen from 41% in 1960 to 18% today, and the share in the middle class has risen from 38% to 57% in the same time. CNN
India, home to 500 million internet subscribers, has just approved the principles of net neutrality, ensuring online access is unrestricted and non-discriminatory. Times of India
Single use plastic bans work. The use of plastic bags in Holland has dropped by 71% since the government banned shops from giving them out for free in 2016. NL Times
India's second most populous state, Maharashtra, home to 116 million people, has banned all single use plastic (including packaging) as of the 23rd June. Indian Express
Colombia has officially expanded the Serranía de Chiribiquete to 4.3 million hectares, making it the largest protected tropical rainforest national park in the world. WWF
8 JUNE 2018 - 21 JUNE 2018
Scotland's carbon emissions have halved since 1990, and its leaders have announced a new target to reduce levels by 90% by the middle of the century. BBC
Ikea has announced it will phase out all single-use plastic products, including straws, plates, cups, freezer bags, garbage bags, from its shops and restaurants by 2020. CNN
India has registered a 22% decline in maternal deaths since 2013. That means on average, 30 more new mothers are now being saved every day compared to five years ago. The Wire
The World Health Organization has just certified Paraguay as having eliminated malaria, the first country in the Americas to be granted this status since Cuba in 1973.
In 2017, crime and murder rates declined in the United States' 30 largest cities. The overall crime rate fell by 2.1%, violent crime rate by 1%, and the murder rate by 3.4%. Vox
Crime falls when you take in millions of refugees too. The number of reported crimes in Germany fell by 10% in 2017, dropping to the lowest level in 30 years. Washington Post
Following the collapse of ISIS, civilian deaths in Iraq have decreased dramatically. 80% fewer Iraqis were killed in the first five months of 2018 compared to last year. Anti-War
Still worried about the kids? Youth crime in New South Wales has plummeted in the last 20 years. Vehicle theft is down by 59%, property theft by 59%, and drink-driving by 49%. ANU
Mexico's population of wild jaguars, the largest feline in the Americas, has grown by 20% in the past eight years, and 14 Latin American countries have just signed an agreement at the UN to implement a regional conservation program for the big cats through 2030. Phys.org
25 MAY 2018 - 7 JUNE 2018
India's environment minister has announced the country will eliminate all single-use plastic by 2022, the largest, most ambitious anti-plastic pledge of all time. Economic Times
Hawaii has passed a law to become fully carbon neutral by 2045, the most ambitious emissions reduction and renewable energy plan of any state in the United States. FastCo
Norway has become the first country where electric vehicle adoption has started to affect the oil industry, with consumption of gasoline and diesel falling in 2017. Elektrek
Ireland has overwhelmingly voted to liberalise abortion. More than two-thirds of voters said yes to overturning a 35 year old law that restricted women's rights. Irish Times
France has seen a sharp fall in daily smokers, with one million fewer lighting up between 2016 and 2017. There has also been a decline in low income and teenage smokers. BBC
After five successful, annual rounds of large-scale, school-based deworming across Kenya, worm-related diseases have fallen from 33.4% in 2012 to 3% in 2017. KEMRI
High school dropout rates among Hispanic students in the United States is at record lows, extending a decades-long decline. College enrollment is also at a record high. Pew
Beijing continues its successful fight on pollution. Levels of particulate have dropped by 20.5% compared to the average level in 2016, and by 35% since 2013. Xinhua
In the forests of central Africa, the population of mountain gorillas, one of the world’s most endangered species, has increased by 25% since 2010, to over 1,000 individuals. Reuters
11 MAY 2018 - 24 MAY 2018
Repsol has become the first major fossil fuels producer to say it will no longer be seeking new growth for oil and gas, and will reduce its reserves to only eight years. Bloomberg
India's coal industry is in big trouble. Thanks to plummeting clean energy prices, 20% of coal plants are stressed assets, and a fourth of those are now unviable. Quartz
Mexico has almost finished building the largest solar farm in Latin America, a "sea of panels turning the desert green." Once switched on, it will power a million homes. SBS
Annual deaths from tuberculosis (TB) the most deadly vaccine-preventable disease, have been reduced from 1.8 million in 1990 to 1.21 million in 2016. OurWorldinData
Following a successful five year pilot in its capital, Estonia is set to become the first country in the world to make public transport free everywhere, for everyone. Popupcity
Canada has signed another conservation deal with its First Nations people, creating the largest protected boreal forest (an area twice the size of Belgium) on the planet. BBC
Evidence of an environmental Kuznet's curve? Between 1990 and 2015, forest cover increased by 1.31% per year in rich countries and by 0.5% in middle income nations. BBC
Following a decade long drive by scientists and volunteers, South Georgia's birds are safe from rats for the first time in two centuries, the largest eradication effort of all time. NPR
13 APRIL 2018 - 10 MAY 2018
Allianz, the world’s biggest insurance company by assets, will immediately cease insuring coal-fired power plants and coal mines and ban new coal from its investment portfolio.
In the first two months of 2018, 98% of new power generation capacity added to the grid in the United States came from wind and solar projects. #MAGA. ThinkProgress
China is now adding an electric bus fleet the size of London's every five weeks. If they continue at this rate, by 2025 half the world's buses will be battery powered. Bloomberg
The global shipping industry, which has always been excluded from climate change negotiations, has for the first time agreed to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases. BBC
Seventy years after independence, India has finally managed to bring electricity to every village in the country (three years ago, 18,452 villages had no electricity). Moneycontrol
In 1990, 70% of Africa's urbanites and half of Asia and Latin America's, lived in slums. By 2014, those figures had fallen to 56%, 35% and 25%, respectively. HumanProgress
Still worried about the kids? In the last generation, arrests of Californian teenagers have fallen by 80%, murder arrests by 85%, gun killings by 75%, imprisonments by 88%, teen births by 75%, school dropouts by half, and college enrollments are up by 45%. Sacbee
The proportion of people being sent to prison in the United States has fallen to its lowest level in 20 years, according to new data from the Department of Justice. Pew Research
Trinidad and Tobago is set to decriminalize homosexuality after its high court ruled that the Caribbean nation’s colonial-era law banning gay sex is unconstitutional. NBC
Pakistan's parliament has passed a landmark law guaranteeing basic rights for trans-gender citizens and outlawing all forms of discrimination by employers. Al Jazeera
Good news for cyclists... since 1999, total traffic in the City of London has fallen by 40% and bicycles are now the dominant vehicle during the rush hour. Guardian
Eight months after enacting the world's toughest plastic bag ban, Kenya's waterways are clearer, the food chain is less contaminated – and there are fewer 'flying toilets.' Guardian
France has passed a new law mandating that by 2020, all plastic cups, cutlery and plates should be compostable, and made of biologically-sourced materials. Independent
Chile has become the latest country to pass a plastic bag ban. A new resolution has been passed which will ban all bags in commerce within the next 12 months. Latercera
In an effort to protect the continent's bees, the world’s most widely used insecticides will be banned from all fields in the European Union within the next six months. ABC
Following decades of efforts from conservationists and scientists, the lesser long-nosed bat has been removed from the endangered list — the first US bat species to do so. NatGeo
Colombia has announced it will protect 80,000 km2 of new land for conservation and will also give indigenous communities autonomy to govern their own territories. Yale360
30 MARCH 2018 - 12 APRIL 2018
Portugal generated enough renewable energy to power the entire country in March, and the government has also just suspended all fossil fuel subsidies. C'mon Australia. Quartz
More bad news for fossil fuels. New Zealand just banned new oil and gas exploration, and only half of the United States' coal plants earned enough to cover their costs last year.
Around the world, the number of people dying due to insufficient calorie or protein intake has fallen from almost half a million in the 1990s to roughly 300,000 today. OurWorldinData
The global media went into a frenzy over Cape Town's water shortages and Day Zero. Strangely, nobody is reporting how the Mother City successfully averted the crisis. apolitical
A cryptocurrency startup just funded all 35,647 open projects on public school crowd-funding platform DonorsChoose.org, reaching more than 16,500 schools in the US. Fast
A new report says that, thanks to shifting tastes amongst millenials, 70% of the world's population is reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether. Forbes
Four years after imposing a 5p levy, the United Kingdom has used 9 billion fewer plastic bags, and the number being found on the seabed has plummeted. Independent
Colombia has been ordered by its courts to protect the Amazon, in Indonesia they're cleaning up the world's dirtiest river, and in Mumbai, turtles are returning to the beaches.
9 MARCH 2018 - 29 MARCH 2018
Big milestone for us here down under. This summer, for the first time ever, renewable energy generated more electricity than brown coal (nice work Australia). AFR
The world's solar market grew by almost 30% in 2017. That brings the planet's total solar power to 405 GW, nine tenths of which was installed in the last 7 years. Yale 360
The number of new coal plants under development around the world fell by an additional 28% in 2017, bringing the total decline to 59% in the last two years. EndCoal
The United Kingdom just struck a major blow for equality, making it compulsory for all companies with more than 250 employees to publicly disclose gender pay gaps by April 2018. apolitical
NPR says South Sudan has stopped transmission of Guinea Worm. Zero cases were reported in 2017 and the country hasn't had a case in 15 months (nice work Jimmy Carter).
Meet Vania Masías, a former ballerina whose non-profit dance school has taught hip hop classes to more than 100,000 underprivileged kids in Peru since 2005. Guardian
Have you heard of the Akshaya Patra Foundation? They run the largest charitable meal scheme in the world. Every day, they feed lunch to 1.6 million students at 13,839 schools across India. LiveMint
Four years ago, China declared a war on pollution. It's working. Cities have, on average, cut concentrations of fine particulates in the air by 32%. New York Times
Adidas, the German sportswear giant, sold 1 million shoes made out of ocean plastic last year. Each pair of those shoes re-uses the equivalent of 11 plastic bottles. USA Today
Chile has passed a new law protecting the waters along its coastline, creating nine marine reserves and increasing the area of ocean under state protection from 4.3% to 42.4% BBC
Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay have signed a declaration to protect the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland and one of the most biologically rich ecosystems on Earth. WWF
23 FEBRUARY 2018 - 8 MARCH 2018
There are now more than 100 cities around the world that get at least 70% of their electricity from renewable sources such as hydro, geothermal, solar and wind. CDP
Canada has just announced $3.1 billion in new funding for science, “the single largest investment in basic research in Canadian history." Nature
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library, which sends free books to children from birth until their start of school, has just delivered its 100 millionth book. Mashable
Since 2010, South Africa, the country with the world’s largest concentration of people with HIV/AIDS, has halved the infection rate and decreased deaths by 29 percent. Borgen
Taiwan has announced a ban on single-use plastic items. Straws, cups and bags will be eliminated by 2030 and restaurants will face restrictions from 2019. Channel News Asia
Rome, one of Europe’s most traffic-clogged cities, has announced plans to ban all diesel cars from its center by 2024. That follows similar, recent announcements from Milan and Turin
The Seychelles has created a new 130,000 square kilometre marine reserve in the Indian Ocean, protecting their waters from illegal fishing for generations to come. National Geographic
9 FEBRUARY 2018 - 22 FEBRUARY 2018
Under the current US administration, more 'beautiful' coal plants have been closed in the first two months of 2018, than during Obama's entire first term. MAGA. Greentech Media
After a decade long effort, Herat, Afghanistan’s deadliest province for landmines, has been declared free of explosive devices. Nearly 80% of the country is now mine free. Reuters
Thanks to growing awareness from #metoo, the biggest anti-sexual violence organization in the US has reported the highest ever number of calls to its crisis hotlines. Vice
Rwanda has become the first low income country to provide universal eye care to all 12 million of its citizens, with 3,000 nurses trained in over 500 health clinics. Telesur
In the last ten years Tanzania (a country where nine in ten people live in a malaria zone) has reduced the malaria death rate by 50% in adults and 53% in children. Borgen
Germany is about to start a radical plan to reduce road traffic by making public transport free in five cities, in an effort to meet EU air pollution targets and avoid big fines. Guardian
Thanks to tightening restrictions, the United Kingdom has reported a 12% drop in vehicle emissions since 2012, as well as significant overall drop in air pollutants. BBC
26 JANUARY 2018 - 8 FEBRUARY 2018
94% of net new electricity capacity in the United States came from renewables last year, and the country lowered its total emissions by 1%. Electrek
In 2017, for the first time, the EU generated more clean energy than coal (five years ago coal generated twice as much as renewables). Carbon Brief
China brought 12.89 million people out of poverty in 2017, dropping the rate to 3.1%. About 70 million rural people have climbed out of poverty since 2012. Channel News Asia
Despite rising air pollution, respiratory disease death rates in China have fallen by 70% since 1990. The reason? Rising incomes, cleaner cooking fuels, better healthcare. Twitter
India has announced plans to create the world's largest government-funded healthcare programme, covering more than 100 million of the country's poor. BBC
A massive new study on three quarters of all the cancer cases around the world from 2000 to 2014 has shown that survival rates are increasing in most countries. Jamaica Observer
A new report says democracy is more widespread than ever. Six in ten of the world's countries are now democratic - a post war record. Pew Research
13 JANUARY 2018 - 25 JANUARY 2018
Chile has managed to quadruple its clean energy sources since 2013, resulting in a 75% drop in the average cost of electricity. C'mon Australia. IPS News
Russians are drinking and smoking less than at any point since the fall of the Soviet Union, with tobacco use down by a fifth since 2009, and alcohol by 20% since 2012. Straits Times
Following the legalisation of medical marijuana in US states that border Mexico, robberies have declined by 19%, murders by 10%, and drug-related homicides by 41%. Forbes
After a 30 year long fight, the Norwegian Animal Rights Organization (NOAH) has just announced that Norway will implement a total ban on fur farming. Live Kindly
The number of suicides in Japan dropped by 3.5% in 2017, marking the eighth straight year that the overall rate has come down. NHK World
The United Kingdom is creating a forest of 50 million trees between Liverpool and Hull, and China will plant 6.66 million hectares of new forests this year, an area the size of Ireland.
Plastic bans go into effect this month in Montreal, Vanuatu & the United Kingdom, Iceland has become the first major supermarket to say it will eliminate plastic within five years, and the European Union says it will make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030.
1 JANUARY 2018 - 12 JANUARY 2018
The United Kingdom smashed almost every record there is for renewable energy in 2017. Wind power alone now generates twice as much electricity as coal. The Conversation
The annual murder rate in the United States declined by more than 5% in 2017, and in New York, crime rates dropped to their lowest level since the 1950s. CS Monitor
In a year when more people flew to more places than ever, 2017 was the safest ever for airlines. There were no passenger jet crashes anywhere in the world. Independent
Ammunition for your next dinner party. In 2017, natural disasters caused fewer deaths than almost any year in human history. Headline news everywhere, obviously. Buzzfeed
As of the 1st January, the US military has been allowing transgender people to openly sign up to serve in the armed forces, providing they meet certain medical criteria. EuroNews
The Brazilian government says it will no longer build dams in the Amazon, and Belize has permanently suspended oil operations on the largest reef in the Western hemisphere.
After more than ten years of debate, 140 nations have just agreed to begin negotiations on a historic "Paris Agreement for the Ocean," the first-ever international treaty to stop overfishing and protect life in the high seas. National Geographic
10 NOVEMBER 2017 - 23 NOVEMBER 2017
The fossil fuels divestment stories are coming fast and thick now. Norway's sovereign wealth fund is officially out, and the global insurance industry has pulled $20 billion.
A new report from the EU says that between 1990 and 2016 the continent cut its carbon emissions by 23% while the economy grew by 53%. C'mon Australia. CleanTechnica
Thanks to government welfare policies, the child-poverty rate in the United States has reached an all time low, dropping to 15.6 percent in 2016. The Atlantic
According to the World Health Organisation, global efforts to combat TB have saved an estimated 53 million lives since 2000 and have reduced the TB mortality rate by 37%.
Two weeks ago, Germany's top court ruled that lawmakers must legally recognize a third gender from birth. This will make it the first European nation to pass this kind of law. CNN
Victoria is poised to become the first Australian state to legalise euthanasia, after historic laws passed the upper house yesterday. The Age
Hot on India's heels, the Italian parliament has voted to ban the use of all animals in circuses and traveling shows. It joins 40 other nations with similar bans in place. Inhabit
Bowing to overwhelming scientific evidence, and pressure from environmental groups, the UK government has agreed to an extended ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. BBC
And finally... we know everyone heard about it, but we're including it anyway. AUSTRALIA VOTED YES TO GAY MARRIAGE (and had a serious party to celebrate it). About bloody time. Welcome to the 21st century everyone!
27 OCTOBER 2017 - 9 NOVEMBER 2017
On Saturday 28th October, a record 24.6% of electricity came from wind power in the 28 countries of the European Union, enough to power 200 million homes. Electrek
In the past year, China has carried out its largest ever crackdown on pollution, reprimanding, fining or jailing officials in 80,000 factories, 40% of the country's total. NPR
A new report says that nearly 1.2 billion people around the world have gained access to electricity in the last 16 years. 500 million of those people live in India. IEA
The United States' official poverty rate in 2016 reached 12.7 percent, the lowest level since the end of the global financial crisis almost a decade ago. US Census Bureau
New research from the CDC estimates that between 2000 and 2016, the measles vaccine has saved 20.4 million lives. Breaking news everywhere right? ACSH
Poland has become the latest country to legalise medical marijuana. Pharmacies will be able to sell cannabis after legislation came into force last Wednesday. Radio Poland
After a year of investigations into animal cruelty, the Indian government has officially banned the use of all wild animals in circus performances. One Green Planet
Brazil has started the largest tropical reforestation project in history. 73 million trees will be planted using improved techniques across the Amazon's “arc of deforestation." Fast Co.
13 OCTOBER 2017 - 26 OCTOBER 2017
One of China's richest women, He Qiaonv, has announced a $2 billion donation for wildlife conservation, the largest environmental philanthropic pledge of all time. Bloomberg
The Dutch government has just confirmed a plan to make all new cars emission-free by 2030, meaning new combustion engines will be banned within the next 13 years. Elektrek
A new report by the ILO says that global child labour has plummeted. In 2016, there were 98 million fewer boys and girls being exploited than in 2000. CS Monitor
India's Supreme Court has outlawed non-consensual marital sex with child brides, and has raised the age of sexual consent for all women to 18. CNN
Global abortion rates have fallen from around 40 procedures per 1,000 women in the early 1990s, to 35 procedures per 1,000 women today. Washington Post
The immigrant population of the US (people born in another country) reached 43.7 million people in 2016, one out of every eight residents, the highest proportion in 106 years. CIS
California has become the first US state to legally recognize nonbinary genders, allowing residents to identify as male, female, or nonbinary on all ID documents. Mary Sue
The Italian fashion brand Gucci will go fur-free next year and auction off all remaining fur items. It follows in the footsteps of Armani, which went fur free in 2016. Harper's Bazaar
Victoria has become the latest Australian state to announce a ban on single-use plastic bags. New South Wales is now the only remaining state without a ban. ABC
29 SEPTEMBER 2017 - 12 OCTOBER 2017
TransCanada has terminated its tar sands pipeline, triggering a $1 billion loss and ending an epic 4 year battle between politicians, big oil, environmentalists and indigenous communities. One of the great climate change victories of our time. Calgary Herald
On the eve of one of their major feast days, 40 Catholic institutions from five continents announced the largest ever religious divestment from fossil fuels. Catholic Reporter
Peru has reduced the prevalence of chronic malnutrition and stunting in children under the age of five from 39% in 1990, to 16% in 2016. Global Goals
Thanks to better use of contraceptives, America’s teen birth rate has fallen from 41.5 births per 1,000 girls in 2007 to 20.3 births per 1,000 girls this year. Vox
Following news that England has achieved a 95% vaccination rate, the World Health Organisation has announced the elimination of measles in the UK for the first time. BBC
New figures from the American Cancer Society have revealed that between 1989 to 2015, deaths from breast cancer dropped by 39%, saving the lives of 322,600 women. Time
In a major victory for transgender people in Botswana, the country's High Court has ruled that a transgender man can hold official documents that reflect his gender identity. HRW
Eleven countries are planting a wall of trees from east to west across Africa in order to push back the desert - and in Senegal it's already working. BBC World Hacks
1 SEPTEMBER 2017 - 28 SEPTEMBER 2017
The cost of solar plants in the United States has dropped by 30% in one year and in the United Kingdom, the price of offshore wind has dropped by half in less than two years.
France will pass legislation later this year to phase out all oil and gas exploration and production by 2040, becoming the first country to do so. Bloomberg
Women now occupy 23% of parliamentary seats around the world, up from 12% in 1997. The Middle East and North Africa have seen a fourfold increase in that time. World Bank
Heckler & Koch, the world's deadliest arms manufacturer, has announced it will end gun sales to countries falling short of corruption and democracy standards. Deutsche Welle
September has been a great month for the war on plastic. Kenya became the 9th country to ban plastic bags, then Western Australia announced a ban starting in 2018, and now Chile says it will be the first country in the Americas to ban plastic bags in coastal cities.
The Minamata Convention, the first global treaty on mercury pollution, was ratified six weeks ago, and 156 countries are meeting this week to discuss further action. Swiss Info
One of the world's largest marine parks has just been created off the coast of Easter Island, and will protect 142 species, including 27 threatened with extinction. Guardian
In more than 60 regions across the globe, more populations of large sea turtles are improving than declining, a big change from a decade or two ago. Nice. Associated Press
18 AUGUST 2017 - 31 AUGUST 2017
In the last decade between 3,000 and 12,700 premature deaths have been avoided in the US thanks to better air quality from installations of solar and wind energy. Ars Technica
China has now stopped construction on more than 150GW of coal plants. And in June and July they installed more solar than Australia's entire existing capacity. Clean Technica
They've also invested more than $100 billion into treating and preventing water pollution, and launched nearly 8,000 water clean-up projects in the first half of 2017. Reuters
Zika has all but disappeared. Cases are plummeting in Latin America & the Caribbean, and much of the population is now immune. Headline news everywhere... right? Science Mag
The US Food and Drug Administration has given the go ahead for clinical trials for MDMA for post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). MAPS
In the last two months, Tunisia, Jordan and Lebanon have repealed provisions in their penal codes that allow rapists to escape punishment by marrying their victims. Al Jazeera
India’s Supreme Court has issued a historic ruling confirming the right of the country’s LGBTQ people to express their sexuality without discrimination. Independent UK
On the 31st August 2017, Canada became the 9th country to allow a third gender X, rather than male or female, on passports and government documents. NY Times
4 AUGUST 2017 - 17 AUGUST 2017
Following in China's footsteps, India is on track to double its solar installations this year, installing more in the first half of 2017 than in all of 2016. C'mon Australia. Clean Technica
JPMorgan Chase has just announced it will source 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020 and will facilitate $200 billion in clean financing through 2025. PV Tech
Rhode Island has become the fourth state in the United States to make community college free, following similar initiatives in New York, Oregon and Tennessee. CNN
The World Health Organisation has declared Somalia polio free, after confirming there have been no new recorded cases in the last three years. Arab News
Nepal has passed a law criminalising an ancient Hindu practice called chhaupadi that banishes women from the home during menstruation and after childbirth. Al Jazeera
The British government has unveiled new plans to require compulsory CCTV cameras in all slaughterhouses, in order to enforce laws against animal cruelty. Guardian
A province in Pakistan has planted a billion trees in the last two years as part of an effort to restore forests and protect against natural disasters such as floods. Independent
In Germany, the total area of land under organic agriculture increased by 15% in 2016, reaching 3.09 million acres, or 7.5% of all arable land. Deutsche Welle
Inuit groups and the Canadian government just signed a deal to protect the 'Serengeti of the Arctic,' creating by far the largest marine reserve in the country's history. Globe & Mail
14 JULY 2017 - 3 AUGUST 2017
China is set to easily surpass the record they set in 2016 for installations of solar energy, adding 24GW of new generating capacity in the first half of 2017. Bloomberg
In the last 30 days, both the United Kingdom and France have agreed to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040.
According to UNAIDS, for the first time in history, half of all people on the planet with HIV are now getting treatment, and deaths have dropped by half since 2005. Science Mag
The WHO says Cuba has officially become the first country in the world to eliminate the transmission of HIV/AIDS and syphilis from mother to child, and the epidemic is 'coming under control' in Swaziland, the country with the world’s highest prevalence of HIV.
Ethiopia just became the 42nd country to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus since 2000, another big milestone in the global campaign to end this cruel disease. UNICEF
A new report shows that incidents of bullying and the number of violent attacks in American public schools has decreased significantly since 2010. Associated Press
Kenya has become the latest country to ban plastic bags, and in the Indian province of Tamil Nadu, more than 1,000km of roads has been laid using recycled plastic.
Vietnam has agreed to end bear farming, and will work with Animals Asia to rescue 1,000 remaining caged animals (thanks to one of our subscribers, Kyle Mahaney, for this one).
Chile just set aside 11 million acres of land for national parks in Patagonia, following the largest ever private land donation from a private entity to a country. Smithsonian
30 JUNE 2017 - 13 JULY 2017
“This announcement marks the end of the solely combustion engine-powered car.”Volvo says that starting in 2019 it will only make fully electric or hybrid cars. Atlantic
India has ratified two key global agreements on eradicating child slavery. According to Nobel Laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, it's 'a paradigm shift.' Reuters
Leprosy is now easily treatable. The number of worldwide cases has dropped by 97% since 1985, and a new plan has set 2020 as a target for the end of the disease. WHO
The French government has announced that in an effort to combat new measles outbreaks, parents will be legally obliged to vaccinate children from 2018. Independent
Gay adoption is now legal in all 50 states in the US, following a ruling by a federal judge that Mississippi's ban on same-sex couples adopting children is unconstitutional. HuffPost
In a major blow for Monsanto, regulators in California have taken a pivotal step towards requiring weed killer Roundup to come with a warning that it’s known to cause cancer. AP
1.5 million people in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh have set a new Guinness record for reforestation by planting more than 67 million trees in a 12 hour period. RT
Scientists have discovered that a new kind of naturally occurring underwater bacteria has eaten a considerable portion of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. CNBC
16 JUNE 2017 - 29 JUNE 2017
Sweden’s largest pension fund has divested all investments from six companies that violate the Paris Agreement, including Exxon, Gazprom and TransCanada. CleanTechnica
France will stop granting all licences for oil and gas exploration in a major transition towards clean energy being driven by the new Macron government. Independent
Since 2010, tobacco use by young people in India has fallen by 33%, and for high school students in the United States it's dropped by almost half since 2011.
Not that you'd know it from the evening news, but the homicide rate in Australia has dropped to one victim per 100,000 people, the lowest ever recorded. Guardian
The gender pay gap in the US has narrowed from 36% in 1980 to 17% in 2015. For young women the gap has narrowed even further, and now stands at 10%. Pew Research
Hot on the heels of Ireland's appointment of its first gay Prime Minister, Serbia has achieved a double first, with the appointment its first female and gay Prime Minister. BBC
Pakistan has started issuing passports with a separate gender category, X, for transgender citizens who don't identify as male or female. Vox
Five remote Pacific islands are once again safe havens for four of the world’s rarest bird species following one of the most ambitious island restoration projects of all time. BirdLife
2 JUNE 2017 - 15 JUNE 2017
A shareholder rebellion just forced ExxonMobil, the world's largest oil company, to start reporting on the effect of preventing climate change on its bottom line. Washington Post
South Korea announced a major U-turn on energy, shifting one of the world's staunchest supporters of coal and nuclear power toward natural gas and renewables. Reuters
Meet Sanduk Ruit and Geoff Tabin, two eye doctors responsible for helping restore sight to 4 million people in two dozen countries, including North Korea and Ethiopia. CBS
The United Kingdom has seen a 20% fall in the incidence of dementia over the past two decades, meaning 40,000 fewer people are being affected every year. Reuters
Thanks to better access to clean water and sanitation, the number of children dying in the world from diarrhoea fell by a third between 2005 and 2015. That means we are saving the lives of an extra 250,000 children every year. BBC
Since 2005, Afghanistan has built 16,000 schools, the nation-wide literacy rate has increased by 5%, and the youth literacy rate has increased by more than 16%. USAID
17% of newlyweds in the United States now marry someone of a different race or ethnicity, a fivefold increase since 1967, when interracial marriage was legalised. Pew
The price of raw ivory in Asia has fallen by around 50% since the Chinese government announced plans to ban the domestic legal ivory trade six months ago. Guardian
At a recent UN oceans summit, delegates from China, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines made major new commitments to keep plastic out of the sea. BBC
18 MAY 2017 - 1 JUNE2017
Taiwan's constitutional court ruled in favour of allowing same-sex marriage. Huge story, hard fought for, and a major milestone for LGBTQI rights in Asia. SCMP
New data shows that young people are officially less racist than old people. The worldwide trend is towards towards less discrimination on the grounds of skin tone or caste. Quartz
In 1991 more than 40% of Bangladesh lived in extreme poverty. The World Bank says that number has now dropped to 14% (equating to 50 million fewer people). Quartz
Premature deaths for the world’s four biggest noncommunicable diseases - cardiovascular, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory - have declined by 16% since 2000. World Bank
Rwanda’s universal basic healthcare system has achieved a 75% decline in maternal mortality and over an 80% decline child mortality in the last 15 years. New Times
One year after a nationwide ban on smoking in public took effect in Spain, women are giving birth to significantly fewer premature or underweight babies. Reuters
In an effort to combat misinformation and fearmongering, the Italian government has made vaccinations mandatory for children attending school up to the age of 16. Independent
Germany has banned fur farming. This follows similar decisions by Japan and Croatia within the last year. A victory that’s been two decades in the making. Well done PETA!
The largest community led beach clean up in history is finished. 85 weeks and 5.3 million kilograms of trash later, this is what Versova beach in Mumbai now looks like. Daily Mail
5 MAY 2017 - 17 MAY 2017
The global coal industry is taking a hammering. A 48% drop in pre-construction activity, a 62% drop in construction starts and a 19% drop in ongoing construction. CoalSwarm
China's electricity output from solar PV plants rose 80% in the first quarter of this year. Considering that last year was already a record, this is remarkable. Independent UK
Lots of sound and fury in US politics these days, and yet quietly and unannounced, Congress recently boosted famine relief funding by $990 million. Humanosphere
The Zika emergency in Brazil is over. The number of cases has dropped by 95% compared to a year ago. Wonderful news that featured in every media outlet. Right? Al-Jazeera
"One of the greatest public health success stories of the past 40 years." Thanks to new ARV treatments, young people with HIV now have near normal life expectancy. BBC
Saudi Arabia has just issued an order allowing women to access government services on education and healthcare without the prior consent of a male guardian. The Star
The Ocean Cleanup project has unveiled a new design to deploy its trash-collecting booms in the Pacific Garbage Patch in 2018, four years ahead of schedule. Fast Company
Thanks to new imaging techniques, estimates for global forest cover have been revised upwards by 9%, an area of forest two-thirds the size of Australia. Science
2 APRIL 2017 - 4 MAY 2017
The world's assault on tropical diseases is working. A massive, five year international effort has saved millions of lives, and countries are now signing up for another round. STAT
Rates of violent crime and property crime have dropped by around 50% in the United States since 1990, yet a majority of people believe it's gotten worse. Pew Research
Canada's federal telecom regulator has just ruled to uphold the principle of net neutrality - the idea that all web services should be treated equally by providers. Motherboard
Soft drink sales in the US have dropped for the 12th year in a row, thanks to consumer education and new sugar taxes aimed at stemming obesity and diabetes. Reuters
A new government initiative has given 275 million Indians access to proper sanitation since 2014. Read that again and think about how many people that is. Gates Notes
In a significant public health victory, Mexico has become the first country in the Americas to eliminate trachoma, the leading cause of blindness worldwide. NBC
Last Friday the EU imposed new, stricter limits on pollutants such as nitrogen, sulphur, mercury and particulates that will apply to all 2,900 of Europe's large power plants. Reuters
Great Britain, the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, has gone an entire day without using electricity produced from coal for the first time since the 1880s. Verge
6 APRIL 2017 - 20 APRIL 2017
Solar power recently broke through the 50% mark for electricity in California. They used to say it could only ever provide a fraction. Now they say it can never be 100%. Electrek
Canadian coal production has dropped to a 30 year low, and is expected to see further decline as the country moves to phase out coal fired power plants by 2030. Globe & Mail
The number of executions recorded worldwide has fallen by 37% since 2015. The decline was largely driven by fewer deaths recorded in Iran and Pakistan. BBC
A doctor in Virginia has found a cheap, effective cure for sepsis, one of the planet's deadliest diseases and major problem in hospitals around the world. Independent UK
India's Ministry of Sanitation has just issued a nationwide guideline allowing transgender people to use any public toilet of their choice. INDIA 1. NORTH CAROLINA 0. The Wire
Japan has officially recognised a same-sex couple as foster parents, marking a first for the country and signalling a growing recognition of LGBTQ rights in Japan. Mashable
A five month old whistle blowing policy in Nigeria has already helped recover more than $200 million from corrupt businessmen and politicians. Quartz
Taiwan has become the first Asian country to ban the eating of cats and dogs, with new laws imposing fines for consumption and jail time for killing and cruelty. China Post
23 MARCH 2017 - 5 APRIL 2017
Industries that now employ more people than the entire coal sector in the United States: bowling | skiing | travel agencies | used cars | theme parks | carwashes. Washington Post
Paris surrendered its streets to cars in the 60s and 70s. Today, under siege from smog and traffic it's leading some of Europe’s most aggressive efforts to fight back. City Lab
Germany's gamble to take in a million refugees is paying off handsomely. Its economy has strengthened and unemployment has dropped by almost 1% since 2015. Twitter
Between 2010 and 2014 death rates in the US decreased for 11 of the 16 most common cancer types in men and for 13 of the 18 most common cancer types in women. OUP
Israel's Agriculture Ministry is planning on halving food waste by changing packaging and labelling rules, and redistributing unused farm produce to feed families in need. Tablet
Twenty years ago the average malnourished person on planet Earth consumed 155 fewer calories per day than they needed. The World Bank says that number is now down to 88.
The European Commission is preparing to enact a permanent ban on all bee killing insecticides across the continent. Science + Adults in the Room = Good Policy. Guardian
The European Union has also passed fresh rules that make it more difficult for armed groups to finance their activities through the sale of conflict minerals. Mining.com
3 MARCH 2017 - 21 MARCH 2017
UK carbon emissions have fallen to the lowest levels since the Victorian era. The last time they were this low was 1894, the year the petrol car was invented. Independent UK
Hot on the heels of International Women's Day comes some good news from India, where parliament has passed a bill giving women 26 weeks maternity leave, and from Iceland, where the government has just made gender pay equality compulsory by law.
After rising dramatically in the 1990s and 2000s, income inequality in China has been falling steadily since 2010. Simon Kuznets is doing fist pumps in his grave... Quartz
China has also just introduced a surprisingly progressive sex education curriculum for kids, promoting sex positivity, gender equality and LGBT rights. Shanghaiist
Meet Josh Browder, the 19 year old inventor of a chatbot that’s overturned 160,000 parking fines and is now helping refugees claim asylum in the US, the UK and Canada. Mic
Meet Felix Finkbeiner, the 19 year old environmentalist who's worked with the United Nations to plant more than 14 billion trees in more than 130 nations. National Geographic
In a big win for two of the world's most endangered big cats, the Amur leopard and tiger, China has just approved a national park that's 60% larger than Yellowstone. HuffPost
More people are adopting old dogs in the US than ever before. Okay, okay, we know we're cheating a little here but c'mon, it's a great story. Look at that face! Washington Post
17 FEBRUARY 2017 - 2 MARCH 2017
Suicide attempts by gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers have decreased by 14% in US high schools, thanks to the legalisation of same-sex marriage. Guardian
Good news for LGBT rights in Europe too. The Finnish government just voted down a revolt against same-sex marriages, ensuring it will become law next month, and in Slovenia, a new law permitting same-sex marriages came into effect last Friday. Reuters
Since 1980, life expectancy in Vietnam has jumped from 67.6 to 75.8 years, average schooling from 4.2 years to 7.5 years, and income has seen five-fold increase. Borgen
After quintupling between 1974 and 2007, the imprisonment rate in the US is now dropping in a majority of states, with an overall drop of 8.4% from 2010 to 2015. New York Times
Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter of crude oil, is investing $50 billion into a massive renewable energy push in an effort to wean the country off fossil fuels. Bloomberg
Meanwhile, in Canada two of the world's biggest oil producers have just written off 4.7 billion barrels of oil from their tar sands projects because they're too expensive. OilPrice
Indonesia has pledged $1 billion to clean up its seas from plastic, and Cameroon has committed to restoring over 12 million hectares of forest in the Congo Basin. IUCN
A decrease pollution in the Ganges has brought Gangetic dolphins, one of the four freshwater dolphin species in the world, back from the brink of extinction. Hindustan Times
2 FEBRUARY 2017 - 16 FEBRUARY 2017
The world finally has a vaccine that's cheap and effective enough to end one of humanity's greatest scourges, cholera, a disease that's killed tens of millions. New York Times
Between 2000 and 2015, HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths in Ethiopia fell by 79%, underlining a remarkable turnaround in the country's fight against the disease. Global Fund
The elephants in Chad’s Zakouma National Park were supposed to have been wiped out by poachers years ago, yet the population is thriving. Here's why. National Geographic
The US is quietly making historic progress on farm animal welfare, with 10 states and hundreds of brands coming out against the most notorious kinds of factory farming. BI
A group of Israeli charities has successfully pulled off a secret mission to deliver 100 tonnes of winter supplies and clothing to refugees trapped in Syria. Jerusalem Post
As plunging crime closes prisons across the Netherlands, the government is turning them into housing and cultural hubs for ten of thousands of refugees instead. Co.Exist
Solar jobs in America increased at a record setting pace in 2016. Over the last 12 months, solar was responsible for one in every 50 new jobs created in the country. CNBC
Sweden has committed to phasing out all carbon emissions by 2045. Best thing about this story is the picture of the signing ceremony. Remind you of anything? Independent
19 JANUARY 2017 - 1 FEBRUARY 2017
Since 1980 the US has been a beacon of freedom for refugees, taking in 2.5 million people. Not one of them has been responsible for an act of domestic terror. The Age
86% of children now receive the DTP3 vaccine. That means the number of vaccinated humans on the planet has risen from 1 to 6 billion in two decades. Our World in Data
Since 2008, the rate of violent crime in the US has been lower than at any point since 1976. And thanks to better education and contraception techniques, abortion rates have reached their lowest level since Roe vs. Wade in 1973.
Unilever, one of the world's largest consumer goods companies, has committed to making all of its packaging fully reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Plastics News
Delhi has introduced a city-wide ban on disposable plastic, prohibiting the use of cutlery, bags and other plastic items amid concern over pollution of the sea and air. Independent
Brazil has pledged to rehabilitate 22 million hectares of forests, croplands and pastures, the largest restoration commitment ever made by a single nation. Pacific Standard
Deutsche Bank has $2 trillion in assets and is one of the coal industry's biggest financiers - and it's just announced it will stop financing all new coal projects. Ouch. Mining.com
1 JANUARY 2017 - 18 JANUARY 2017
India is going to meet its renewables targets for the Paris Agreement 42 months ahead of schedule, meaning it will not need any new coal-fired power stations. Guardian
China has announced it's investing $361 billion into clean energy by 2020. Oh, and they've just suspended the building of an additional 104 coal plants. Energy Desk
New York City recorded its lowest number of shooting incidents in 2016 and narrowly missed setting a record low for homicides since record keeping began. Associated Press
Cancer deaths have dropped 25% in the US since 1991, saving 2.1 million lives. That's 50 times the number of US citizens killed by war and terrorism in that period. Science Daily.
1.3 million households in Kenya gained access to electricity last year. That means that the percentage of connected Kenyans is now at 55%, up from just 27% in 2013. Quartz
Good news for plane passengers. Apparently 2016 was the aviation industry's second safest year of all time, with only one death per 10.7 million travellers. Irish Independent
China has agreed to completely ban domestic ivory trade by the end of 2017. The move is being called a 'gamechanger' for elephant conservation. Washington Post
Mexico has created a new coastal and wetlands conservation area covering more than 5.7 million hectares, a 25% increase over its existing reserves. Pacific Standard