Welcome to this week’s edition of Climate Joy. As always, this week we’ve scoured the news to bring you positive developments for the environment. From France to Borneo, we come bearing green tidings to inspire you to keep up the good climate fight.
Here’s what we’re celebrating this week:
France has taken a giant stride to curtail waste. The country has passed a law to ban designer clothing and luxury goods companies from destroying unsold or returned items under an anti-waste law passed by parliament last week.
The new law, also covers electrical items, hygiene products and cosmetics, which must now be reused, redistributed or recycled. The law also phases out the use of paper sales receipts. According to the nation, it is the first law of its kind in the world.
The anti-waste and circular economy bill requires producers, importers and distributors, including online firms such as Amazon, to donate unsold non-food goods except those that pose a health or safety risk. It aims for all plastic to be recyclable by 2025 and a 50% reduction in the use of single-use plastic bottles in the next decade. Fast food restaurants and takeaways will have to stop using plastic containers by 2023.
French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe’s office said more than €650 million worth of new consumer products were destroyed or thrown away every year in France.
Fashion shows and sustainability seem incompatible but Copenhagen Fashion Week is looking to change this. Last week, its chief executive, Cecilie Thorsmark, relayed that she hoped the company would transform from “a traditional event to being a platform for advocacy” calling it “a very radical new way of thinking about fashion week without actually ditching the existing format.”
Copenhagen Fashion Week announced its sustainability action plan that will require brands to meet a range of targets or face exclusion from the official show schedule. Brands will have three years to meet its 17 sustainability standards, which include bringing in zero-waste set designs for their shows, pledging not to destroy unsold clothes and using at least 50% organic or recycled textiles in their collections.
In addition, the plan is to reduce emissions by 50% and become zero waste by 2022. Plastic coat hangers will be banned by 2021 and “digital solutions” are being looked at as a way to reach a global audience without requiring all participants to board planes to attend.
“All industry players, including fashion weeks, have to be accountable for their actions and be willing to change the way business is done,” Thorsmark said. “The timeframe for averting the devastating effects of climate change on the planet and people is less than a decade, and we’re already witnessing its catastrophic impacts today. Put simply, there can be no status quo.”
The move follows a year in which sustainability finally became parts of the mainstream fashion discussion. While not the most wasteful part of the industry, fashion weeks came under increased scrutiny for their waste and excess, and became focal points for protest and activism. The Swedish Fashion Council cancelled Stockholm Fashion Week altogether in July, hoping to find a more sustainable alternative. At New York Fashion Week, the industry’s first carbon-neutral fashion show took place, courtesy of the luxury designer Gabriela Hearst.
Indigenous activists in Indonesia’s Borneo have scored a big win in a lawsuit against a coal mining firm that sought to operate on their land. After a two-year court battle, Indonesia’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of a lawsuit that claims the permit for the mining firm, Indian-owned PT Mantimin Coal Mining (MCM) should be revoked.
The company was granted a permit by the government in December 2017 to operate in the district of Central Hulu Sungai in South Kalimantan province. The issuance of the permit surprised local activists as well as local government officials, who had for decades opposed mining and plantation projects in the district. Central Hulu Sungai is the sole district in the province that remains free of both coal mining and oil palm plantations.
With help from Walhi, Indonesia’s largest environmental NGO, local residents took MCM and the minister of energy and mineral resources to court, arguing the permit bypassed a critical step: the environmental impact assessment, which requires local approval. In parallel to the lawsuit, opponents of the mine mobilized a movement, operating online with the hashtag #SaveMeratus in honor of the region’s rainforested Meratus Mountains, and organizing the delivery of more than 1,000 handwritten letters to President Joko Widodo.
San Francisco has joined a growing number of cities across the globe that are going, at least partially, car-free. Passenger cars and ride-hailing services will be indefinitely prohibited from traveling on portions of Market Street in San Francisco’s Financial District, though they’ll still be able to cross it.
Reducing private vehicle traffic is a first step in a much broader $600 million “Better Market Street” plan put forth by the city to revitalize downtown San Francisco with faster buses, safer bike lanes, repaved sidewalks and new trees.
The move is also issue of safety. In the last five years, transit officials say, this part of Market Street has averaged more than 100 injury-collisions a year, most involving cars hitting pedestrians or cyclists. Data from Vision Zero reports that 29 people were killed in traffic fatalities in 2019.
The move has received enormous support from merchants, politicians, ride-hailing companies, activists and planners. “It’s such a tourist destination that everyone understands that there needs to be a better and safer flow of traffic, especially if you’re not familiar with driving or riding a bike down there,” said Tracy Everwine, head of the Central Market Community Benefits District, a nonprofit consortium of property owners and residents in the area.
The bus company Greyhound Australia has ruled out any extension of work on the controversial Adani coal project after a backlash from climate activists. On Sunday the SchoolStrike4Climate group launched a campaign to boycott travel with the company until it publicly ruled out working on the mine.
Greyhound transported workers for the construction company BMD, which is building the railway to take the coal to Adani’s Abbot Point port. The Indian-owned Adani mine and railway project is the first to begin work to extract the vast coal reserves of Queensland’s Galilee basin. The project has received persistent objection Australia-wide.
In a statement, Greyhound Australia said it had “received numerous messages, emails and phone calls from people expressing their thoughts both for and against the Carmichael Rail Network and Adani Carmichael project”. It said: “Following considered deliberation, and in the best interests of our staff, customers, and partners, Greyhound Australia has decided not to enter into a contractual agreement with BMD to service construction of the Carmichael Rail Network beyond our preliminary 31 March 2020 commitment.”
This is good news because it means that the voices of the collective matter!
And that’s it for this week. We’ll see you back here next week, and until then, please don’t forget to spread the positive climate vibes by sharing this far and wide.
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