New Climate Joy Series: Celebrating Positive Climate News

New Climate Joy Series: Celebrating Positive Climate News

I started writing about the environment, climate change and the eco-community about two years ago. In that time, I have come to observe that climate news is often moody and sometimes outrightly depressing. The news always shares gloomy details either on how the temperature levels are increasingly rising, lists the animal species we are losing or brings to the fore yet another government (or corporate) move that spells doom for the environment. 

All in all, the news seems to only talk about how things are getting worse, and how we are losing the fight for a better planet. I think the main reason for this is that climate change is such a huge and universal issue that it often makes us feel that our efforts have no impact. In addition, I believe it’s almost a rule for the media to put the worst on display as it seems to sell more copies or garner more clicks. So, the wins and good news for the environment are lost amongst the tales of typhoons and tides of ocean plastic.

Brussels, Belgium. 26th March 2019. Protesters march during a student strike action organized by ‘Youth For Climate’, urging pupils to skip classes to protest against a lack of climate awareness. Photo: Alexandros Michailidis / Shutterstock

In reality though, there is good news and joy to be had as well, and the problem with sharing only the bad news is that the information shared is incomplete. That is what this piece is about; celebrating the wins of the eco and climate movement. This is the first article in a new series called ‘Climate Joy’. Each week, we will curate a summary of news of events, policies, people and products, all of the joyful variety. Through this medium, we hope that by sharing more complete stories and celebrating our victories in this little way, we demonstrate that the fight for a better planet matters and the impacts of same isn’t always colored in gloom.

1. New York to Ban Single-Use Plastic

Exceptionally good news; the Big Apple last week announced the intention of the state to ban single-use plastic bags throughout its polity. The law will be passed as part of this year’s budget bills. The ban will take effect from March next year and “would forbid stores to provide customers with single-use plastic bags, which are nonbiodegradable”. The bill was introduced by New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. 

The states’ counties have the option to opt in to a five-cent fee on paper bags, revenue that would go to the state’s Environmental Protection Fund as well as a separate fund to buy reusable bags for consumers. There are a few exemptions such as newspaper bags, garment bags and bags sold in bulk, such as trash or recycling bags. New York is the second state to pass a statewide plastic ban; California instituted its ban in 2016.

2. Shell Parts Ways with American Lobby Group

Royal Dutch Shell, one of the world’s biggest oil companies announced last week that it would not be renewing its membership with the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), an oil industry lobby group, over “misalignment regarding climate change policies”. The “misalignment” is that Shell is supporting action on climate change and carbon pricing, and the lobby group doesn’t agree with their stance (no surprises there). 

Now even though Shell remains a member of even more prominent oil industry lobby groups, what is most joyful here is the background to this announcement. Last year, Shell, under pressure from investors and shareholders announced that it would be reevaluating its membership of such lobby groups and reiterated its alignment with the Paris Agreement on climate change. 

This may be the beginning of a trend where shareholders (who have grown ever more worried about climate change) actually succeed in convincing the ‘big dogs’ to take action. All those emails urging companies to take climate action? They may not have been in vain after all.

3. Electric Car Sales Reach Record Highs in Norway

From its track record in gender equality to its high GDP and standard of living, there is a lot to be happy with when it comes to Norway. The latest is their love for electric cars. Electric cars are quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception in Norway. In March, electric cars made up 58 percent of all car sales and the country is on track to meet its 2050 target of 100 percent zero emission new car sales by 2025. Seems a smooth ride indeed. 

4. Renewables Have Won the Race Against Coal and Starting to Beat Natural Gas

A recently published report by Bloomberg brings good news for renewable energy. In recent years, the cost of renewable has fallen so fast that it has exceeded expectations and is already cheaper than coal. The even bigger news, according to the report, is that it is now overtaking natural gas in the race for the cheapest and most stable source of power generation. 

The report reviewed 7,000 power projects in 46 countries that span 20 energy technologies, including coal, gas, nuclear, battery storage, solar photovoltaics (PV), and wind. With investment in renewables, the price is also dropping, making clean energy more appealing to consumers; data which disproves comments made by President Trump that solar power is “very very expensive”.

That’s it for this week on this front. 

Good news for the environment maybe scarce, but they are there. We are determined to find them so we can together, celebrate our victories and be encouraged to do more. 

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Title image of 20,000 Australian students gathering in climate change protest rally, School Strike 4 Climate, and march from Sydney Town Hall Square to Hyde Park. Photo: Shutterstock.

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