Climate Joy Week #9: Greens Win More Seats in EU Elections, Melbourne Unveils Plan to Green its City and Much More…

Climate Joy Week #9: Greens Win More Seats in EU Elections, Melbourne Unveils Plan to Green its City and Much More…

Welcome to this week’s edition of our Climate Joy Series. Quite a lot happened in the past week in relation to the environment and climate. One of the highlights of this week was the decision of Malaysia and other South East Asian countries to ship plastic and electronic waste back to Western countries as it lays bare the woefully inadequate recycling policies and structure that currently exist. 

Now, let’s jump right into this week’s positive climate news. 

1. The Greens Win More Seats at the EU Elections

In the recently concluded European Union elections, the Greens were successful in claiming moe seats. In what has been described as a “Green Wave” the Greens won a total of 69 seats, with the most seats in Germany where they won 22 seats.  This development came as a huge but pleasant surprise to environmentalists because for the first time in a very long time, the balance of politics (through these results) seems tipped in favor of the green movement.

This victory has changed the power structure of the EU parliament as the Greens now wield actual power in legislation and can no longer be regarded as “fringe idealists”. The European Green Party, sometimes referred to as European Greens, is the European political party that operates as a federation of political parties across Europe supporting green politics.

The Greens are of course a favourite of ours because of their progressive policies and views on issues such as climate action, human rights and social justice.

2. Melbourne Unveils Plan to ‘Green’ Up

In Australia, the local government has unveiled a plan termed the Green Our City Strategic Action Plan which will “unleash a sea of green across her city”. This plan which is estimated to cost a whopping $19.1 million aims to boost urban forestry and the decoration of buildings with vertical greening.

The main thrust of this plan is the commitment to plant at least 3,400 trees within the next year and further care for over 80,000 other trees; a program that will cost $4.2 million. 

Other aspects of the plan include the makeover of existing parks and gardens and an audacious plan to upgrade the city’s water systems. The upgraded water systems will enable the city to collect and reuse its rainwater which will in turn be used in the maintenance of the parks and gardens.

Just days after approving plans to build a living sky farm in the city, the Melbourne city council will also reveal details of a demonstration green roof next week, as part of its 2019-20 budget. These are incredible developments we hope other cities will implement.

3. Carbon Tax Bill Becomes Law in South Africa

A few days ago, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, signed the country’s carbon tax bill into law. The law has been a long time coming as it has been rejected three times since it was first mooted in 2013. This latest action of the South African government is a large aspect of the country’s attempts to meet its responsibilities as set forth in international climate agreements to which the country is a signatory. 

South Africa’s energy industry has continually opposed the passage of this bill into law, citing that it would increase their costs of business. After much resistance, however, the climate movement has won law makers over. This law, in a bid to reduce carbon emission into the atmosphere, provides for a tax of 126 Rands ($8 per tonne of carbon released) to be paid by any corporation releasing carbon anywhere in the country. The first phase of the law takes effect from 1st June 2019 to 2023 after which progress will be assessed to determine the viability of the second phase which is expected to come into force from 2023-2030.

While the law has been described by critics as an inadequate response from one of Africa’s highest carbon emitters, it’s lot more than the continent had a few years ago and the progress should be celebrated. In this fight for our planet, sometimes it is more important to begin than to attain perfection and for this, South Africa has our support.

4. American Utility Company Going Carbon-Free Faster than Expected

Xcel energy, one of America’s biggest utilities has announced that it will be going carbon-free faster than previously planned and expected. In a recent tweet, the company shared that “it plans to shut its Minnesota coal plants, the last two in the upper Midwest, a decade earlier than scheduled, putting the utility on pace to be coal-free earlier than expected.” 

Back in December 2018, Xcel was the first American energy company to commit to a goal of carbon-free energy by 2050 and 80% carbon-free by 2030. Xcel provides energy for over 3.5 million people in five states so this commitment was applauded by many.

The company’s representative explained that these plans are going faster than anticipated for two main reasons; firstly, renewable energy is getting cheaper and secondly, their customers (city councils and states) have increased demand for renewable energy. This is incredible news since there is no federal plan to shift to renewable energy in the US, states and cities are taking it upon themselves to transition to a carbon-free economy.

5. Environmental Media Awards Held in Hollywood

The third edition of the annual Environmental Media Awards took place in Hollywood on May 30. The award, which was organised by the non-profit Environmental Media Association, aims to recognise and “honour films and television productions that increase public awareness of environmental issues and inspire personal action”. The award categories include: Feature Films, Television Episodic Drama, Reality Television, Television Episodic Comedy, Documentary Film and Children’s Television. 

Hosted by Karruche Tran, this year’s awards featured winners like “Engineering Earth” by (HBO) in the Reality television category, Peg + Cat “The Compost Problem” (PBS Kids) in the Children’s Television category. 

Now one could argue that Hollywood’s glitz and glamour alone is not enough to save the environment; but the truth remains that the environment needs as much publicity and action as it can get. The more conversations held publicly and privately, the more global awareness we create and the more inclusive the climate movement becomes. The more inclusive the movement becomes, the more actions people take and that’s the point isn’t it?

And that’s a wrap for this week on our Climate Joy series. Please make sure to drop in next week but until then, spread the positive climate news by sharing this post!

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Feature image via City of Melbourne.


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