Climate Joy Week #19: San Francisco International Airport Bans Plastic Water Bottles, Plans for Africa’s First Vertical Forest Unveiled and much more…

Climate Joy Week #19: San Francisco International Airport Bans Plastic Water Bottles, Plans for Africa’s First Vertical Forest Unveiled and much more…

Welcome to this week’s edition of Climate Joy. This week as usual, we bring you news that will gladden your green heart. From the ice of Northern Canada to the warmth of Cairo, we’ve collated our weekly list of a few impressive positive developments in the communal fight to create a better environment for us all. 

Here’s what we’re celebrating this week:

1. San Francisco International Airport Bans Plastic Water Bottles

For travelers travelling through the San Francisco International airport, plastic water bottles are not going to be an option for much longer. From August 20 (just a week away), the airport’s ban on the sale of water in plastic bottles will take effect. Under the new policy, shops, restaurants, lounges and vending machines will not be allowed to sell or offer plastic bottled water to consumers.

As an alternative, travelers are encouraged to bring their own bottles and refill in any of the over 100 filtered refill points in the airport. The San Francisco airport is believed to be the first major airport to formulate this policy and other airports are widely expected to follow quickly in their footsteps. 

2. Amnesty International Divests from Fossil Fuels

Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organisation has announced that it will be divesting from fossil fuel companies. The decision was taken at Amnesty’s highest decision-making forum – the Global Assembly – which is formed of delegates from around the world. 

The reasoning behind the decision lies in the fact that fossil fuel companies are creating (at worst) and enabling (at best) the ongoing climate crisis which in turn leads to the denial of the human rights of a lot of people.

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According to Mwikali Muthiani, Chairperson of the International Board of Amnesty International, “As the world’s largest human rights organization, we want to send a clear message that continued investment in coal, oil and natural gas companies is at odds with human rights, because of the direct link between their activities and climate disaster”. 

The Assembly voted for this as part of a much larger green plan which includes cutting travel by a third and going fully carbon neutral by 2035. 

3. Canada Creates New Marine Protection Area

The Canadian government has announced the creation of a new Marine Protection Area in Tuvaijuittuq, in the Northern region of the country. Countries vary in their definitions of what constitutes a Marine Protected Area (MPA) and in Canada, the current designation closes off water from mining, oil and gas extraction, dumping, and fishing with a technique termed trawling. Canada’s MPA standards are new, and were published this past April after official recommendations were made by a panel of experts. It is expected that this new MPA would be a haven for polar bears, walruses, polar bears, seals, and narwhals. 

This is especially important as the Arctic faces a time of increasing environmental instability as the Tuvaijuittuq is in the far northern Canadian Arctic region known for its pristine nature and solid ice. As Paul Okalik, the senior adviser for Arctic conservation at the World Wildlife Fund relays, “…when you’re there it’s very quiet and beautiful… the ice feels so solid, and is like no other place on Earth.”

4. Plans for Africa’s First Vertical Forest Unveiled

Plans for a vertical forest have just been unveiled by Italian Architect Stefano Boeri. The three vertical forests will be built in a city outside of Cairo, Egypt and will be Africa’s first vertical forests. 

The three cube-shaped vertical forest apartment blocks are for Egypt’s new administrative capital, currently being built in the desert 30 miles east of Cairo. Each of the three will measure 30 meters (98ft) by 30 meters (98ft), and rise up to seven stories high. Boeri estimates that the trio, designed for Misr Italia Properties, will hold 350 trees and 14,000 shrubs of over 100 species overall. 

Credit: Stefano Boeri Architetti

Of the three blocks, two will be apartments while the third will be a hotel -– all of which will be energy self-sufficient. The development, planned for a central part of the new capital, will also feature shops and restaurants.

Now I feel that this may not be our continent’s most pressing need, since we still have a lot of, you know, horizontal forests, but I think it’s great nonetheless. This is particularly amazing for Cairo which ranked as the most polluted city in the world, according to a study by The Eco Experts last year. More trees means cleaner air and fresh air is always welcome in any living community.

That’s it for this week folks. We’ll see you back here next week and as always, please feel free to share this positive news!

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Feature image via Stefano Boeri Architetti.

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