Hi there! Welcome to the 24th edition of our Climate Joy series, celebrating positive environmental news from across the globe.
From Italy and New Zealand, right through to Spain and London, we have scoured the earth to bring you some green tidings to bring you hope and alleviate any eco anxiety you may have. So sit with us for a while as we quickly take you through it all.
The very first joyful new of today is….drumroll… Gucci has announced that it hopes to go completely carbon neutral by end of September 2019. Marco Bizzarri, the CEO of the Italian luxury fashion brand, made the announcement last week while presenting the brand’s broader green strategy which includes its entire supply chain such as the tanneries. The measures comprise a mixture of reduction, elimination and offsetting what it calls “unavoidable emissions”. This forms part of Gucci’s 10-year sustainability strategy, which includes reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2025. It will partner with the UN’s REDD+ which focuses on “conservation of forest carbon stocks, sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks” in Peru, Kenya, Indonesia and Cambodia.
This stance taken by Gucci may not totally wipe out the environmental mess created by major key players in the fashion industry over time but still, this development is huge. Gucci ranks high on every list of noteworthy fashion brands across the globe, and it has maintained this exalted position over the years. So the inclusivity of these ideals into the brand directly translates as massive progress.
The New Zealand government has announced that it intends to embark on a plan to clean up the country’s freshwater lakes and rivers.
Two thirds of the country’s rivers and lakes are currently unswimmable with three-quarters of its native freshwater fish species threatened with extinction. Currently New Zealanders are encouraged to check their local council websites for public health warnings before heading out for a day on the water. Contaminated drinking water is not uncommon, with 5,000 people falling ill and four dying in 2016 after sheep faeces contaminated the Havelock North’s water supply 430km southeast of Auckland.
Under the new plans the NZ government is aiming to “achieve a noticeable improvement in five years and restore [their] waterways within a generation” and has set aside NZ$229m (US$145m) to help farmers transition to more environmentally friendly farming practices. Farming is in fact, the leading cause of water contamination in the country.
According to the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Science (NIWA), there is no doubt that the growth in pastoral farming, particularly dairy, is the main culprit for declining river water quality over the last 20 years.
A report has stated that Barcelona’s superblocks scheme could save hundreds of lives if implemented. The report which was released by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health calculates that the city could prevent 667 premature deaths every year if it created all 503 superblocks envisaged in its initial plan – up from the current six schemes.
The scheme which has been hailed as ‘radical’ aims to reduce traffic by 21%. And it comes with something extra: freeing up nearly 60% of streets currently used by cars to turn them into so-called “citizen spaces”. The plan is based around the idea of superilles (superblocks) – mini neighbourhoods around which traffic will flow, and in which spaces will be repurposed to “fill our city with life”, as its tagline states.
According to the Zoological Society of London, over 138 pup seals were counted in the River Thames this season, clear evidence that the seal population in the river is growing.
Why is this such a big deal? The Thames was declared ecologically dead in the 1950s. The presence of the seal pups points to the fact that the river’s ecology is making a comeback. According to conservation biologist, Thea Cox, “The seals would not be able to pup here at all without a reliable food source, so this demonstrates that the Thames ecosystem is thriving and shows just how far we have come since the river was declared biologically dead in the 1950s.” A positive sign indeed.
Germany’s ministry of environment has announced that it has drafted a bill which will ban single-use plastic bags. Making the announcement last week, Environment Minister Svenja Schulze said that she plans for the bill to become law in 2020. “I believe that we have the support of the people of Germany,” she said. “The time is right for a plastic bag ban.”
Under the new legislation, businesses could face a fine of €100,000 (US$110,000) should they violate the law. The bill will not include thin plastic bags used for fruit and vegetables; Schulze pointing out that this could lead to even more waste.
The proposed ban comes in the wake of a 64% drop in the use of plastic bags. This progress was made after an agreement between the government and businesses in 2016.
And on that happy note, we wrap up this week’s edition of our Climate Joy series. See you next week for another Climate Joy edition and don’t forget to share this post far and wide.
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Feature image via CNN’s YouTube channel.