Good News in 2020

Good News in 2020

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

In South Africa, crime rates have plummeted following bans on sales of alcohol, and the notorious gangs of the Cape Flats have called a truce. BBC

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…

… so expect to see a lot more of this: “Vietnam is eliminating 15GW of planned coal,” and “South Korea is shutting down 28 coal plants in March.”

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 the last few months both Saudi Arabia and Palestine have banned child marriage, making 18 the minimum age for weddings.

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


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