The world is going through a lot. Instead of focusing on bad news, we’ve rounded up the most encouraging environmental stories that made headlines this month
The climate crisis can seem overwhelming and the room for improvement is vast when it comes to protecting our planet. But each environmental win is a step towards saving our home, so we like to focus on the progress being made towards preserving the environment.
Let’s celebrate these environmental wins that happened in January and stay motivated to do more...
1. More than 50 countries pledged to protect 30 percent of Earth’s land and oceans
Photo by Tobias Adam on UnsplashThe High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People met at the One Planet Summit in Paris, and a coalition of over 50 countries committed to protecting at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and oceans. Co-chaired by France, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom, the HAC is focusing on preventing mass extinction of wildlife and ensuring clean air and water.
2. The UK confirms its first-ever geothermal plant, using heat from the earth to power 10,000 homes
Photo by Richard Pennystan on UnsplashThe UK has signed a 10-year deal to use geothermal energy to power 10,000 local homes in the Cornwall area. The United Downs Deep Geothermal Power Project harnesses energy via two deep wells that allow access to the hot granite rocks beneath the earth created by the Porthtowan Fault Zone. Compared to solar and wind energy, geothermal energy is a particularly desirable source of clean energy since it is always running and is not dependent on the weather. This plant is the first of its kind in the UK and is an important step in working to decarbonize the country.
3. US greenhouse gas emissions dropped to their lowest levels since WWII
Photo by Gemma Evans on UnsplashWhile the pandemic has had devastating effects on people and economies, it has given our planet time to breathe. Research group Rhodium has released its preliminary 2020 data estimating that US greenhouse gas emissions fell by 10.3 percent in 2020, marking the largest drop in annual emissions in the post-World War II period. The decline is a result of the stay-at-home orders issued due to COVID-19, slowing industries including transportation and industry, which are leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the US.
4. A new study reveals ‘Neptune’ balls are filtering plastic from the sea
Photo by Benjamin Jones on UnsplashA new study has found that nature itself is playing a valuable role in the fight against plastic pollution. Researchers from the University of Barcelona have found that seagrass ‘Neptune balls’ are filtering our oceans by trapping tiny particles of plastic in their natural bundles of fibre. The plants act as a natural filter, capturing and trapping the microplastics rather than leaving them floating around to tempt the fish as faux food. These balls are often washed up onto the beach during storms, removing them from the seas. The study reports that the seabeds may collect almost 900 million plastic particles annually in the Mediterranean alone.
5. Germany uses more renewable energy than fossil fuels in 2020 for the first time ever
Photo by Karsten Würth on UnsplashAs countries tally up their energy uses for the previous year, the world's fourth largest economy also saw a significant shift towards clean energy. Germany used up more wind, solar, and other renewable sources of energy than fossil fuels, for the first time in history. Recorded by German think tank Agora Energiewende, reasons stemmed from the pandemic and included declines in energy consumption, industrial production and transportation, relatively high CO2 prices and low gas prices, and a mild winter, which lowered heat consumption.
While we still have a long way to go in protecting our planet, we hope these pieces of good news will encourage you to think positively as we work towards a better future!