This week, cities and countries take centre stage as governments make progress towards a better climate. From Oslo to Chicago, there is good news on the horizon.
By way of a reminder, Climate Joy is a new EWP series which aims to celebrate positive climate news. 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 isn’t always colored in gloom.
Last week, Chicago’s legislative council unanimously voted for the city to completely transition to clean energy by 2035. The decision also goes further to commit to the complete electrification of the city’s bus service by 2040.
With this decision, Chicago will become the biggest US city to date to commit to 100% clean energy. This move was championed by the Ready For 100 Chicago Collective, which includes leaders from various environment-facing organizations like Sierra Club and People for Community Recovery.
The sustainability team of the mayor’s office is expected to draw up an actionable citywide transition plan for 100% clean energy by December of 2020. This is a huge win from all angles.
According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), cutting down on food waste is one of the key measures that could help transform global food systems by 2030, because the world wastes 1.3 billion tons of food annually; roughly one-third of all food produced. To understand the scale of this waste, all you have to know is that the food wasted is enough to solve the global hunger problem; enough to feed the one billion people that don’t have enough to eat.
Backed by technology, South Korea has taken the initiative to rid food waste in their country. From as far back as 2005, dumping of food waste in landfills was banned throughout the country and by 2013, compulsory recycling using biodegradable bags were introduced by the government. The bags cost about $6 monthly for a family of four and is responsible for about 60% of the funding of the program.
Using smart bins with RFID tags and weighing scales, residents in Seoul are charged by the weight of food that they dispose. People are also advised to get rid of moisture before disposing food waste as food waste is 80% moisture. By doing so, families save money and the nation saves on collection costs. The pay-as-you-recycle machines have reduced food waste in the city by 47,000 tons in six years, according to city officials.
These measures are having large-scale positive impacts; 95% of food waste is recycled compared to just 2% in 1995. The key takeaway here is that giant strides can be made when cities and governments show a long-term commitment to improving the environment.
This week, once again, we bring good tidings from Norway. Its lawmakers have voted to stop oil exploration in the country’s archipelago region. The Lofoten Islands sits in the north with large oil deposits which the energy industry say is essential to the country’s economy. Norway is Western Europe’s biggest oil producer and has built its thriving economy on oil, so this decision is monumental.
It also joyful to note that these decisions came partly as a result of much protest and pressure from the youth wings of Norway’s major political parties, who have been demanding “climate before cash”. Norway’s youth have seeking a reduction on exploration or even a phasing out of the oil industry altogether. While it won’t happen overnight, getting to this point is a great achievement.
The World Bank’s new President David Malpass has reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to fighting climate change. If you’re wondering why this is considered ‘positive’ news, it might help to know the context surrounding his appointment.
Malpass was appointed by President Donald Trump whose administration is accused of selecting representatives who treat climate change as an after-thought.
Sources say that there was visible relief when Malpass mentioned “climate change twice in his speech and described it as an immense challenge“. This is good news for developing nations. Malpass stated that the World Bank will continue to support developing nations in their fight against climate change while also maintaining their policy of not lending for new coal-fired power plant projects, despite Trump’s strong support for US coal producers.
And that’s a wrap for this week. Make sure to drop in again next week for more positive climate news.
- New Climate Joy Series: Celebrating Positive Climate News
- Climate Change: A Climate Scientist Answers Questions From Teenagers
- Australian Labor Party vs Liberal Party: A Quick Comparison of Their Climate Policies
- 22 Steps Closer to Zero Waste Living: Disposable Items to Stop Buying Right Now
- 14 Famous Female Leaders on Climate Change, Sustainability and Protecting Our Environment
- Greta Thunberg, The 15-Year-Old ‘Radical’ Climate Activist Demanding Systemic Change
Title image credit Matthew Kirby via Flickr.