Climate Joy Week #21: Nordic PMs Sign Climate Declaration, Stripe to Invest in Negative Emissions and more…

Climate Joy Week #21: Nordic PMs Sign Climate Declaration, Stripe to Invest in Negative Emissions and more…

Welcome to another edition of our Climate Joy series. This last week has been very trying for us all – alongside the Earth generally – with the Amazon Rainforest fires. It’s surreal and frankly, I didn’t feel up to writing this edition for a good number of days. But then, I realized that it is at times like this that we must hold onto our happy places to keep us on our feet. 

It is on the days that we feel most discouraged that our Climate Joy series becomes all the more relevant; focussing on the good news helps us to keep moving forward. So with that said, here is a round-up of positive climate news around the world for this week:

1. Scientists Make Amazing Breakthrough That May Save the Coral Reefs

Scientists at the Florida Aquarium have made a scientific breakthrough that has the potential to save the coral reefs. According to the scientists, a group of coral reefs reproduced two days in row for the first time in a lab setting.

This breakthrough is a part of the program “Project Coral” — a program designed in part with the goal of ultimately repopulating the Florida Reef Tract. This project works in partnership with London’s Horniman Museum and Gardens to create coral spawn, or large egg deposits, in labs. Coral reefs are important to our planet for many different reasons. Asides from containing the most diverse ecosystems on the planet; they also protect coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action and tropical storms. In addition, they provide habitats and safe havens for many marine organisms.

According to the CEO of the Florida Aquarium Roger Germann, “It’s pure excitement to be the first to achieve a breakthrough in the world. Our team of experts cracked the code…that gives hope to coral in the Florida Reef Tract and to coral in the Caribbean and Atlantic Oceans.”

2. Stripe to Invest in Negative Emissions

The American payments company Stripe has announced that it will be investing in negative carbon emissions. Stripe, like many other sustainability-minded companies, have been purchasing carbon offsets to eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions, but the company has decided to go a step further. Instead of just paying for carbon offsets, the company is committing to pay, at any available price, for the direct removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and its sequestration in secure, long-term storage. So, instead of merely offsetting, they will invest in eliminating the carbon all together, looking to commit $1 million at a minimum.

To understand the significance of this, you have to understand the dynamics of carbon offsetting. Carbon offsetting is an action intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity, especially when quantified and traded as part of a commercial scheme. Carbon offsets are forms of trade. When you buy an offset, you fund projects that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The projects might restore forests, update power plants and factories or increase the energy efficiency of buildings and transportation.

Patrick and John Collison, co-founders of Stripe. Credit: LinkedIn.

Investing in negative emissions is different in that the aim is to suck CO2 directly from the atmosphere so that it can be stored underground. Negative emissions tech is still developing—and paying for a ton of CO2 from a direct air capture company can be 100 times more expensive than paying for a simple carbon offset from, say, a tree-planting project. So this stance by Stripe is no dismissive feat.

3. Canada Announces $175m for New Conservation Projects

A few days ago, Canadian Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna announced the first in a series of 67 conservation initiatives proposed by the polity. The initiatives will be launching in every province and territory, as part of Canada’s Nature Legacy initiative. These projects are supported by the $175 million federal Canada Nature Fund’s Target 1 Challenge, to expand a connected network of protected and conserved areas across Canada.

Canada occupies a very strategic position in the drive for better conservation efforts around the world. Canada has the longest total coastline in the world; one quarter of the earth’s wetlands and boreal forests; 20 percent of its fresh water; and precious habitat for birds, fish, and mammals. Programs such as this are meaningful in preserving earth’s precious resources.

4. Germany Unveils Plans for Climate-Friendly Aviation

The German government has announced that the country will be pursuing a culture of innovation in the aviation sector. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel relayed this at the recent National Aviation Conference in the eastern city of Leipzig , attended by politicians and aviation professionals. Merkel introduced the “Leipzig Statement for the Future of Aviation” a document signed by industry and government officials outlining the future of climate-friendly German aviation.

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As part of the plan, the German aviation minister said that the government would ensure “that the revenue of the aviation tax is used for research, innovation and climate goals.” This would require tax reform, specifically earmarking an aviation tax for research into alternative energy sources. Given the expectation of growth in the tourism and travel industries, and with it, an increase in travel-related emissions, this development is heart-warming.

5. Nordic PMs Sign Climate Declaration

The Prime Ministers of seven Nordic countries –Iceland, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Greenland, Faroe Islands– have signed a regional Climate Declaration to strengthen the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobssdottir at the signing ceremony in Reykjavik said: “The vision is that the Nordic region will become the most sustainable in the world.”

The declaration was signed along with members of the business community to strengthen government-private cooperation to combat climate change. The Business signatories included the CEOs of Equinor, Nokia, Storebrand, Telenor, Telia, Vestas, SAS and Yara. The example set by this partnership of nations is incredible in the wake of combatting climate change and making our world better for generations to come. 

And that’s it for this edition of Climate Joy. We’ll see you here next week for more positive climate news, and don’t forget to share this news far and wide.

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Feature image of Nordic PMs by Silje Katrine Robinson/norden.org.

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