The latest IPCC report was described by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed global leadership on climate”. According to scientists we are beginning to experience signs of climate change that are now “irreversible”.
But it’s important not to lose hope. All over the world people are taking action to protect our planet and reverse some of the effects we are beginning to see. Check out our favourite climate wins that are happening right now…
1. China opens its first vertical forest city to residents
China’s first ever vertical forest city is complete, providing a home to over 500 residents and over 5,000 shrubs and trees. Designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, the residential towers allow residents to experience city living while being surrounded by nature. The design is built to “create a continuous, ever-changing movement”, as the building blends nature and the built environment together. Each year the forest will absorb around 20 tonnes of carbon from the air, while emitting around 10 tonnes of oxygen.
2. Making conferences virtual significantly reduces emissions
The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us work, with remote working becoming more common. A study published in Nature Communications found that keeping conferences virtual or having a hybrid model can help mitigate climate change by reducing emissions. Switching to online platforms reduces the carbon footprint by 94% and energy use by 90%. Attendees also prefer attending virtual conferences. A Poll conducted by Nature in 2021 found that 74% of people surveyed thought virtual events should continue after the pandemic. Reasons for this included a lower carbon footprint and greater accessibility.
3. Students have designed a ‘floating house’ to protect people from floods
According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Reduction (UNDRR) nearly 70 million people are endangered by floods each year. A group of students in the UK have designed a flood resistant ‘floating house’. The house starts to float as it is surrounded by water and can be used for up to 6 weeks. It can be used to store food, water and other supplies and has won a place in the top 6 in the international HUMLOG Global Disaster Preparedness Competition.
4. Europe’s greenest city has free public transport & highways for bees
Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, has been named the European Green Capital for 2023. It has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of this ambitious target the city boasts free public transport and ‘bee highways’. These green corridors are around 13 kilometres long and cover 6 of the city’s districts. As well as helping to re-wild the city, they encourage citizens to ditch private vehicles and consider more sustainable modes of transportation.
5. Solar powered bikers target poachers in South Africa
Swedish company CAKE teamed up with the South African Wildlife College to find an innovative solution to poaching. Bikes are needed to access rough terrain where poaching takes place. However, the noise produced by petrol powered engines often alerts poachers to the rangers’ presence allowing them to escape. The team developed an electric motorbike that allows the rangers to approach the poachers without being detected. The bikes are charged using mobile charging stations and solar panels.
6. Pristine coral reef discovered in Tahiti
Marine researchers have discovered one of the largest coral reefs ever found in the waters of Tahiti’s tropical coastline. Amazingly it has been completely unaffected by human activities and remains in pristine condition. This is great news for sea life as coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life. Unfortunately many coral reefs around the world are experiencing bleaching due to climate change. Corals become bleached due to an increase in sea temperature or ocean acidification (when the ocean becomes too acidic). Coral bleaching can destroy whole ecosystems so the discovery in Tahiti is excellent news for marine life.
7. Good news for humpback whales
After 60 years of being considered endangered, humpback whales have been removed from Australia’s threatened species list following a major recovery. According to The Guardian, population numbers have increased from around 1,500 to about 40,000. Australia has become a world leader on whale conservation after introducing international and domestic protections against whaling in the 1960s.
8. Panama brings in new law granting nature the ‘right to exist’
Panama’s parliament have brought in ground breaking legislation that grants nature the “right to exist, persist and regenerate its life cycles”. The legislation comes into force in 2023 and will require the government’s future policies to respect the rights of Panama’s ecosystems, including its tropical rainforests, mangroves and rivers. Panama’s parliament will also be legally obliged to promote the rights of nature through its foreign policies.
9. Zapped Bananas light the way to more eco-friendly biomass
Scientists have discovered that banana peels zapped with a powerful lamp can be instantly turned into renewable energy. This new method of extracting hydrogen could significantly boost supplies of gas from biomass. It is also possible to use corn cobs, coffee beans and coconut shells. One major problem with biomass is that it can actually release more CO2. This can happen when forests are destroyed to fuel power stations. In comparison, this photo-thermal technique is economical and climate friendly.
10. First global plastic pollution treaty is agreed
The United Nations has approved the world’s first ever Plastic Pollution Treaty. It’s been described as the most significant green deal since the 2015 Paris climate accord. The treaty will tackle the production and disposal of single use plastic and will have long lasting impacts on the oil and chemicals companies who are responsible for making raw plastic, as well as consumer goods companies. The UK have also introduced a Plastic Packaging Tax.
From tackling plastic pollution to building vertical forest cities, there’s a lot of good news stories to celebrate right now. It’s also important to remember that we can all make a difference. If you’d like to help tackle the climate crisis there are lots of ways to get involved. Check out these resources: