Positive Environmental News So Far This Year (2023)

2023 is a year full of positive environmental news. Let’s dig in!

In an era dominated by climate change concerns and ecological challenges, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the seemingly insurmountable challenges at hand. But amidst the urgency and complexities of our environmental impact, it’s crucial to recognize the positive environmental news that’s emerging.

This article serves as a celebration of the remarkable achievements, inspiring initiatives, and promising breakthroughs that demonstrate our collective commitment to a greener and more sustainable future.

Let’s take a look at the positive environmental news so far this year.

Positive Environmental News and Eco-Anxiety

In the face of an increasingly uncertain climate future, it is crucial to acknowledge the emotional toll it can take on us.

Eco-anxiety is a term used to describe the distress and unease caused by environmental concerns. It stems from the mounting evidence and warnings about climate change, causing feelings of fear, sadness, and helplessness. 

The constant stream of news about natural disasters, rising temperatures, and species extinction slowly erases hope and multiplies anxiety.

And while there is a lot to be worried about, there is also a lot of progress and positive environmental news that we don’t hear about.

Throughout the year, we’ll be collecting positive environmental news and updating this article monthly to help combat climate doomism. We’re confident that this year will be full of positive change and good news, so stay tuned for updates!

Whether they are small stories or world-changing events, you can read all about positive environmental news here.

Positive Environmental News 2023

Positive Environmental News 2023 – December

It’s the last month of the year! Let’s take a look at what positive environmental news December has in store for us:

A renewable energy park visible from space

India is constructing a renewable energy park in the desert between India and Pakistan. The massive solar and wind power station is on track to be completed in three years. The Khavda renewable energy park will be as big as Singapore, over 726 square kilometers. It’ll create 30 gigawatts of power every year, enough energy to keep the lights on in around 18 million homes.

Paris is turning this busy roundabout into the city’s first urban forest

Paris has set a goal of becoming one of Europe’s greenest cities. By the end of spring, they will have planted over 470 trees where a busy roundabout used to be. This urban forest will include oak, ash, maple, and wild cherry trees.

COP28 strikes deal to transition from fossil fuels

An agreement marking the decline of fossil fuels was reached at COP28. It’s the first instance that a UN climate summit concluded with a focus on addressing the main cause of our climate crisis.

The world’s first solar powered truck

The transportation of goods is a necessity in our lives, whether trucks are carrying product to fill a grocery or retail store. In the US, transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for roughly 29% of total emissions. In Canada, it accounts for 25%. But a Swedish vehicle manufacturer is looking to create a solar powered truck that can help cut back this footprint.

US increased pollution inspections and forest protection in 2023

This year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ramped up its on-site inspections of polluting industrial sites. It conducted more checks than it has since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. As well, the Biden administration has put forth a plan aimed at protecting old-growth forests against the impacts of climate change.

Brussels’s mission to become pedestrian-friendly

For quite some time, Brussels has been a city filled with high rises and traffic jams. But Belgium’s capital is now working on an impressive eco-centric transformation these past few years. The goal is to turn Brussels into a city where every resident can reach all necessary urban amenities within a 10-minute span.

person in yellow protective gear for wildfire recovery, positive environmental news

Positive Environmental News 2023 – November

From bubble curtains that protect marine life to a high impact plastic sorting facility. Let’s take a look at November’s list of positive environmental news:

The first solar canal in the US

Arizona is looking to complete the first solar-covered canal in America in the coming years. The panels will supply clean energy while reducing water evaporation in a state currently facing drought conditions.

Rare Sumatran rhino is born in Indonesia

A Sumatran rhino was born in Indonesia, the second Sumatran rhino born in the country this year. This critically endangered species currently numbers fewer than 50 animals.

Electric ferry could cut journey times in half

Candela’s new P-12 electric boat silently glides more than a metre above the water. The developers are hoping that this ferry will kickoff a new era of public transportation, reducing congestion.

Green corridors are protecting endangered species from deforestation

A green corridor was planted in Rio de Janeiro’s rural interior. Once grown, it will connect two patches of forest together, becoming a safe passageway for the region’s most endangered species: the golden lion tamarin.

Bubble curtains protect marine life from noisy construction

As wind turbine construction kicks off, giant rings of bubble curtains are being used to protect marine animals from the sounds of pile-driving. European countries are aiming to make the North Sea into the world’s largest green energy power plant.

European Parliament reaches deal on Nature Restoration Law

The Nature Restoration Law requires EU member states to restore nature on at least 20% of the Union’s land and marine areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050. The European Commission supports the agreement, stating it will play a key role in achieving climate neutrality by 2050.

Greece plans for first offshore wind farms

Greece plans its first offshore wind farms to shift from fossil fuels. The draft aims for 2 gigawatts of power by 2030, equivalent to one-tenth of its onshore capacity, powering around 1.5 million homes.

AI tech is revolutionizing wildfire recovery

New AI technology is being tested in Oregon and California. This tool is designed to rapidly assesses the damage from wildfires within 24 hours, offering a comprehensive picture of the affected land. This advancement could play a vital role in jumpstarting ecosystem recovery after wildfires.

Swedish factory is sorting more plastic than anywhere else in the word

The world’s largest plastic recycling site is now in operation in Motala, Sweden, known as the “Site Zero” plant. It can sort up to 20,000 tonnes of plastic packaging annually, utilizing advanced technology like infrared cameras to distinguish 12 different types of plastic.

Arm of someone plugging in a white electric vehicle

Positive Environmental News 2023 – October

Banning petrol, rewilding coal mines, and a solar space farm. Here’s October’s positive environmental news:

England’s single-use plastic ban

England’s single-use plastic ban went into effect October 1st. The ban includes all types of single-use plastic, including biodegradable, compostable, and recycled plastic. It covers products such as plates, bowls, trays, cutlery, polystyrene food containers, and balloon sticks.

Beanless coffee could slash emissions and water use by 94%

Seattle startup, Atomo Coffee, has unveiled the world’s first beanless coffee. Backed by the same investors as Beyond Meat, this coffee derives from superfoods and plant-based waste materials, such as date seeds, carefully manipulated to replicate coffee’s molecular framework.

Stockholm is banning petrol and diesel cars in its city centre

In an ambitious move against air pollution, Sweden’s capital is set to prohibit petrol and diesel cars from its city centre in the coming year. Only electric vehicles and low emission gas cars will get the green light to operate within a 20-block span of the central city zone.

A giant solar space farm could orbit Earth by 2035

Space Solar, a technology firm based in Oxfordshire, believes that a giant solar space farm could contribute to Britain’s energy supply. The farm would be a 2km farm of solar panels, sending energy to receivers on Earth.

A promising way to recycle EV batteries

Swedish scientists have found a way to recover more valuable materials found in EV batteries. The process of recycling these batteries would not require the use of harmful chemicals.

Demand for clean energy could see fossil fuels peak before the decade’s end

The International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that worldwide demand for fossil fuels could reach their peak before 2030. Thanks to the extraordinary growth of clean energy technologies, we’re on track to utilize green energy to power our homes, vehicles, and industrial facilities.

Rewilding a massive coal mine in Svalbard

Svea mine has yielded over 34 million metric tonnes of coal throughout its operational lifespan. The Arctic coal mine has officially ceased operations, leaving behind overgrown railway tracks that Norway is seeking to transform back to its natural state.

Watch a notorious power plant get demolished in New Jersey

The oil and coal-burning smokestack of the BL England Generating Station was demolished this month, taken down by 350 pounds of explosives to make way for offshore wind farms.

white rhino running through field - positive environmental news

Positive Environmental News 2023 – September

A thought to be extinct tree and the world’s biggest rewilding project are only two stories to highlight in September’s line up of positive environmental news:

AI detects destruction in Brazil’s Amazon

Small AI boxes tied to tree trunks in the Amazon utilize sensors that recognize the sound of chainsaws. This allows scientists to effectively battle deforestation and stop invaders in their tracks.

Tech that can save male chicks

France promised to ban the culling of male chicks in the egg industry. Under the regulations, a hatchery has started using AI to determine the sex of embryos before they’re born.

Work from home, protect the planet

Working from home could save around half the greenhouse gas emissions of an in-office co-worker. A new study shows that full time employees who work remotely could cut their emissions by roughly 54% compared to those who work in an office.

Solar panels in the Arctic powering a transition to green energy

Embracing solar energy in the perpetual winter darkness, Norway’s Svalbard archipelago is now home to the world’s most northern solar panels. The neatly arranged group of 360 solar panels is a project that could inspire other Arctic areas make the switch to green energy.

The rediscovery of a thought-to-be extinct tree

The Pernambuco holly, thought to be extinct for nearly 200 years, has miraculously resurfaced in Brazil. This find is credited to a dedicated expedition team that searched the local terrain in Pernambuco for six days with hopes of rediscovering this lost species.

Do you want to sponsor a piece of the ocean?

The little Pacific island nation Niue has devised an innovative approach to safeguard its marine territories through sponsorship. With a commitment of $148, sponsors can safeguard one square kilometre of ocean, shielding it from dangers such as excessive fishing or plastic accumulation, for a duration of 20 years.

Climate strikes are slowly bringing about change

The Global Climate Strike commemorated its 5th anniversary of the influential movement ignited by Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg. The first strike in 2018 included over 27,000 people across 150 countries. This year’s strike saw over 600,000 people across 60 countries, with 700 actions.

The world’s biggest rewilding project

A South African non-profit, African Parks, has acquired the world’s most significant captive rhino reproduction facility, with the goal of rewilding all 2,000 rhinos. They envision relocating these animals to conservation areas spread throughout the continent, a crucial step in guaranteeing the survival of the species.

Climate action protest sign in front of trees, positive environmental news

Positive Environmental News 2023 – August

Nuclear fusion repeat and the potential to save coral reefs from bleaching. All that and more in August’s list of positive environmental news:

Keeping cool in France with oyster shell paint

Cool Roof France (CRF) is looking to reduce temperatures inside French buildings by painting roofs white, utilizing more than 130,000 tons of discarded oyster shells to make sustainable paint.

Montana court: children have the right to a healthy environment

Montana court has ruled that children have a constitutional right to a healthy environment. Young activists declared that state agencies were violating their right to a clean environment by allowing fossil fuel development.

India on track to reach UN goal

India has slashed greenhouse emissions by 33% in 14 years, which is a faster drop than expected. They are on their way to meeting their Paris Agreement goal of reducing emissions intensity by 45% from the 2005 level by 2030.

Community pantries prevent food waste in Geneva

Looking to reduce food waste, a non-profit in Geneva has introduced street-side, free-access refrigerators where people can give or take food that would otherwise go bad. The first fridge, launched a year ago, saved three tonnes of food from going to waste.

France is putting a stop to non-essential paper receipts

France will no longer print paper receipts that aren’t requested or essential, with the goal of reducing environmental waste.

Nuclear fusion repeat achieved

Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory successfully achieved a nuclear fusion reaction that yielded more energy than was put into it for the second time in history. Fusion energy could potentially create limitless clean energy without the radioactive byproducts associated with current nuclear power.

Some coral reefs may be able to survive warming temperatures

Coral reefs in Palau may be capable of adapting to rises in temperature, preventing bleaching. This finding is a ray of hope as ocean temperatures rise, with 99% of coral projected to disappear worldwide by 2030 if we reach the 1.5° threshold.

Ecuador votes against oil drilling proposal

Voters rejected a 2.5-million-acre oil drilling project in Ecuador that targeted a protected area of the Amazon, home to Indigenous people and biodiversity. Nearly 60% of voters rejected the project, a significant victory in the fight against climate change.

Cows grazing in an open field at sunset, positive environmental news

Positive Environmental News 2023 – July

From wind and solar power to a major drop in deforestation. Let’s take a look at the positive environmental news from July:

The UK offers an eco-friendly burial alternative

The UK will begin offering water cremation this year, following the demand for eco-friendly end of life options. Water cremation uses 95% water and 5% sodium hydroxide to reduce the body into skeletal remains. The bones are then ground into white powder and placed in an urn.

Traditional cremation generates around 245kg of carbon emissions, which is the equivalent of charging your phone over 29,000 times. And the chemicals used in the embalming process can leak and pollute surrounding soil when bodies are traditionally buried.

Trove of minerals in Norway could supply batteries and solar panels for the next 50 years

70 billion tons of phosphate deposits were discovered in southwestern Norway, a key component of car batteries, solar panels, and fertilizer. This comes as a relief as Europe has been facing supply issues.

The first high speed train powered by renewable energy

California’s high speed train will be solar powered, with 44 megawatts of energy generated by 552 acres of solar panels needed to power it. On board batteries will need to store 62 megawatt hours of power.

Wind and solar to produce 33% of global power by 2023

A report from the Rocky Mountain Institute shows that wind and solar are on track to produce over a third of the world’s electricity by 2030. This shows that the energy sector could achieve the numbers needed to meet global climate goals.

Daffodils could reduce methane emissions produced by cows

High altitude daffodils produce a medical compound used in a drug to manage Alzheimer’s. But it’s also able to help combat climate change by producing an extract which can reduce cow’s methane emissions when fed to them.

Wounded soldiers help US scientists save coral reefs

US Army veterans wounded in combat are helping restore coral reefs in Florida. By putting wounded veterans in challenging situations, researchers are able to help improve treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, head trauma, and more — all while saving coral threatened by rising sea temperatures.

Scotland could hit net zero thanks to a giant water battery inside a mountain

The Scottish government has green lit expanding a hydro storage plant, helping the country reach its net zero targets. The development will cost €581 million, building in the existing Cruachan facility.

Deforestation drops 34% in the Amazon Rainforest

Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest dropped by 34% during the first six months of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s term. There has also been a 41% drop in alerts throughout June, which is when deforestation jumps as the dry season begins.

positive environmental news: image of a white leopard lounging on a rock

Positive Environmental News 2023 – June

Blue whales return to California in June’s line up of positive environmental news:

Platypus have returned to Australia after more than 50 years

The University of New South Wales have released five female and four male platypus into the Royal National Park after years of cleaning and restoring the landscape. The University will observe their reintroduction to better understand how we can conserve their habitats in the future.

Swiss citizens vote in favour of new law to reach net zero

The Swiss people have voted for a new climate law that will cut the country’s net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050. 74% of people backed it in the canton of Geneva, following a record-breaking warm spring.

Ex-poachers are restoring the Indonesian coral reefs

Twenty years ago, the coral reefs of the Spermond Islands in Indonesia were nothing more than debris. The poachers that bombed and poisoned the corals to catch fish have since become conservationists, working with scientists to rehabilitate the corals they destroyed.

A “virgin birth” leads to implications for dinosaur researchers

An 18-year-old American crocodile has made herself pregnant in the first known case of a “virgin birth,” scientifically known as pathenogenesis. The crocodile was kept away from other crocodiles in a zoo in Costa Rica, but that didn’t stop her from producing a fully formed fetus inside an egg in 2018. Research found that it was 99.9% genetically identical to its mother. Scientists believe that it’s likely that the dinosaurs also had the ability to produce pathenogenetically.

New program to restore 193 kilometers of Hawaiian reefs

The Āko’ako’a program will focus on restoring 193 kilometers of coral reefs in Hawaii. Community leaders and cultural practitioners will use their traditional knowledge to help guide the restoration. These reefs have been in decline for 50 years.

Wind and solar overtake fossil fuels in Europe

Wind and solar has produced more energy in the EU during May than all fossil fuels combined. Fossil fuels generated a record low of 27%, making this the first full month on record where renewables produced more power.

Blue whales return to California at unseen levels

Blue whales, Earth’s largest animals, have returned to the coast of California at never before seen levels. This follows collective action to reduce the impact of commercial fishing, shipping, and other recreational activities that could harm marine life.

Scientists discover technology to capture carbon using energy from the sun

Researchers at the University of Cambridge have developed the world’s first solar-powered carbon capture system. The system is capable of sucking CO2 from the atmosphere, turning it into sustainable liquid fuel. This technology is also able to convert plastic waste into clean fuel and other chemical products.

Learn More: The Benefits of Trees: Nature’s Silent Heroes

Nations pledge $2.7 billion for Senegal’s energy transition

Wealthy nations have pledged to support Senegal’s goal of quadrupling its renewable energy capacity by 2030. This deal will also help boost economic development and access to secure, clean energy for the country. Senegal relies on fossil fuel imports and has one of the highest electricity prices in Africa.

Biden Administration to restore Endangered Species Act

The Biden Administration has proposed three separate regulations to help protect wildlife and endangered species. This would restore protections removed by policies put in place by the Trump Administration.

193 UN member states adopt the High Seas Treaty

The High Seas Treaty is the world’s first treaty to protect biodiversity in international waters. It will require signatories to assess any planned activities that may impact ocean life beyond national jurisdiction.

positive environmental news: red flycatcher perched on a tree

Positive Environmental News 2023 – May

May’s list of positive environmental news features the return of vibrant birds and a car charging road:

EU emissions fell by 4% at the end of last year while economies grew

Greenhouse gas emissions fell by 4% in the EU in the last three months of 2022. The report Eurostat released also showed that through emissions had fallen, GDP increased by 1.5%. This shows that countries can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and still grow their economies.

Seals are making a comeback in Belgium

At the end of the last century, almost no seals remained on Belgium’s coast. But today, they’re becoming increasingly common. Their numbers have been on the rise over the last 20 years. The Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences estimates that there are now between 100 and 200 grey and harbour seals.

Tiny vibrant birds returning the the Galápagos Islands

Darwin’s flycatchers are on the verge of extinction, but conservation experts now think the tiny bird could be making a comeback. The species is labelled as “vulnerable” by the International Union of Conservation of Nature. But on the island of Santa Cruz, 12 new chicks were born.

Well-fed snapping turtle is a conservation success story

A chunky snapping turtle relaxing along the Chicago waterway is going viral after the man who filmed the well-fed turtle nicknamed him Chonkosaurus. 

Conservationists have been working on native plant restoration along the waterway to combat invasive European species. The size of Chonkosaurus is an indication that their efforts are working. When animals are doing well, the plants are doing well and vice versa.

Biden puts a cap on fossil fuel

The Biden Administration is looking to implement regulations that limit emissions from existing power plants by setting pollution caps. This could eliminate carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s electricity sector by 2040.

Sweden’s permanent car charging road

Sweden has announced plans to pioneer the world’s first permanent electric road that would charge EVs while driving. The e-motorway could lead to a further 3,000km of electric roads by 2035. Sweden has already piloted the world’s first temporary electric road.

Colombian farmers turn deforested land into sustainable Amazonian forests

More than 450 families in the south of Caqueta, Colombia have transformed their farms for conservation and food sovereignty. Amazonian Farms is an initiative working to provide sustainable production alternatives by living in harmony with the forest.

Learn More: The Consequences of Deforestation

Wind energy is overtaking gas in the UK

Wind turbines have generated more electricity than gas for the first time in the UK, with a third of electricity coming from wind farms in the first three months of the year.

EU introduces new legislation to boost product sustainability

The European Parliament has voted in favour of new rules banning features that limit a product’s lifespan or lead to goods malfunctioning prematurely. The legislation also aims to fight greenwashing by banning the use of misleading environmental claims.

Learn More: Greenwashing: Let’s Talk About It

positive environmental news: lioness staring into distance

Positive Environmental News 2023 – April

A tiny red crab protects the Great Barrier Reefs and more in our positive environmental news from April:

US Supreme Court won’t rule on local climate cases

A new Supreme Court decision will allow cities and states to sue energy giants and big fossil fuel polluters. Big Oil appealed five of these local cases to the US Supreme Court but were declined a hearing.

Locally “extinct” lion spotted in Chad’s Sena Oura National Park

A lion thought locally extinct was spotted in Chad’s Sena Oura National Park for the first time in 20 years. This healthy and beautiful lioness could be an early sign that big cat populations are increasing.

Gaza is bringing its wetlands back to life

Decades of reduced freshwater inflows, urban development, and pollution have all but destroyed Wadi Gaza’s environment. A recent project by the United Nations Development Program (UNPD) aims to rehabilitate the area as a nature reserve and coastal wetland. In the last two years, this project has allowed cleaner water to flow into the valley.

A tiny red crab could help protect the Great Barrier Reef

A tiny red crab could be the secret weapon we need to save the Great Barrier Reef. Many of its reef-building corals have been eaten by toxic crown-of-thorns starfish, but the red decorator crab has an appetite for these destructive stars.

Time’s up on single-use plastic

Single-use plastic is everywhere, especially in our oceans. It destroys our wildlife, marine life, and environment. But after years of destruction, over 100 countries now have implemented a full or partial ban on single-use plastic bags. In the last decade, the amount of public policies that phase out plastic bags have tripled.

Learn More: The Single-Use Plastic Ban Breakdown

US rolls out big bucks for wildlife crossings

The US Department of Transportation is rolling out $350 million for wildlife crossings along busy roads. Research shows that over 350 million animals are killed by traffic in the US each year. And roughly 200 people are killed yearly in collisions involving wildlife in the US, according to officials.                   

Google’s clean energy pledge

Google is joining forces with a clean energy company to construct 500 megawatts of solar through small-scale community projects in Ohio. More than 10% of the money made will flow to over 25,000 low-income households to reduce bills and boost the local economy.

A busy highway

Positive Environmental News 2023 – March

Saying goodbye to forever chemicals. Let’s take a look at the positive environmental news from March:

UBC zaps forever chemicals from water

PFAS are chemicals that repel grease and water, but they hang around forever and can find their way into our products – even if they weren’t intentionally added. They’re also dangerous to human health and the environment.

UBC has invented a new water treatment that zaps these forever chemicals from drinking water for good. This absorbing material traps and holds PFAS, which are then destroyed using photochemical and electrochemical techniques.

Brazil’s Atlantic Forest is being turned into a wildlife haven

After centuries of destructive deforestation, the nonprofit Guapiaçu Ecological Reserve has restored 12,000 hectares of forest. They have seen a return of hundreds of birds, including the lowland tapir which was reintroduced to Rio de Janeiro for the first time in 100 years. The reserve also helps protect the water supply of 2.5 million people.

500 baby sharks will be released into the wild in Indonesia

A new organization called ReShark is raising endangered zebra sharks in aquariums and reintroducing them into the wild. The organization spans 15 countries and 44 aquariums. The goal is to bring back a self-sustaining population that has been on the brink of extinction. This is a global first, but top shark scientists believe this method could help repopulate them.

Beavers will be reintroduced in London for a rewilding project

A pair of Eurasian beavers will be reintroduced to Ealing in west London for the first time in 400 years. This is part of an urban rewilding and wetland restoration project run by Ealing Wildlife Group. Because beavers are considered “ecosystem engineers,” they can benefit other species and increase biodiversity in their habitat.

Brazil is evicting gold miners from Indigenous territories

Brazil’s government has removed almost all illegal gold miners from Yanomami territory, the largest Indigenous reservation in the Amazon. They will target six more reserves this year. Police will set up Amazon rainforest bases and are seeking international cooperation from law enforcement in the area. In January, the government declared a humanitarian crisis in the Yanomami territory.

Italy is building renewable energy communities

Environmental nonprofit Legambiente Campania has helped create 35 renewable energy communities across Italy by installing solar panels in working-class neighbourhoods – free of charge. The project helps combat energy poverty by lowering bills and helping families sell excess renewable energy.

Switzerland is piloting solar panels between railway tracks

Swiss startup Sun-Ways is planning to install solar panels between rail tracks to boost energy production. Their invention uses a specialized train car to lay panels down on the tracks, as if unrolling a carpet. Switzerland has over 2,000 miles of train tracks, and the technology could provide about 2% of the country’s gross annual energy consumption.

Canadian banks must now follow stricter climate rules

New mandatory rules will be phased in over the next two years requiring financial institutions and their managements to disclose emissions and develop climate transition plans.

The plans are meant to manage growing legal and physical risks due to climate change, such as lawsuits against banks’ fossil fuel clients and property loss from extreme weather. They will also have to disclose and account for greenhouse gas emissions associated with their loans, bonds, and mortgages.

Europe’s last wild river is now protected after a successful campaign

Albania’s Vjosa River (Europe’s last free-flowing river) has officially been declared a National Park after a year-long international campaign run by EcoAlbania, River Water, Patagonia, and Leonardo di Caprio.

The Vjosa River Basin is the habitat of nearly 1,100 animal and plant species, including thirteen animal and two plant species that are globally threatened. By naming it a National Park, it is given the highest international standard of protection, ensuring ecological integrity.

A fishing boat on the ocean in front of mountains at sunrise, with seagulls flying around

Positive Environmental News 2023 – February

From marine protection zones to planting seagrass meadows. February was full of positive environmental news:

Thailand has announced a ban on imported plastic waste

The Southeast Asia nation will ban the import of all plastic waste by 2025 in a three-stage plan. This is part of a greater plastic reduction movement to control pollution and protect human health. While Thailand’s new ban will create issues for nations around the world, it will also force them to find new ways to deal with their waste and implement new policies aimed at reducing overall plastic circulation and consumption.

Learn More: 4 Reasons Why Bioplastics Won’t Fix Our Plastic Problem

Australia announces massive marine protection zone

Australia will make an area the size of Germany a marine protection zone, tripling the Macquarie Island Marine Park in the Southern Ocean. This zone will protect millions of seals, seabirds, and penguins. The marine protection zone will increase the amount of protected area in Australia’s oceans to 48.2% or 388,000km.

US announces $27 billion to decarbonise low-income areas

Under the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, part of last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, tribes, states, municipalities, and eligible nonprofits will soon be able to apply for grant funding to help facilitate projects that drive the transition to renewable energy and reduce pollution.

The grants will focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities. The funding will be a $20 billion General and Low-Income Assistance Competition and a $7 billion Zero-Emissions Technology Fund Competition.

Low emission zone in London cuts pollution by 46%

A new report found that pollution levels in central London have reduced by 46%. This is in comparison to what they would have been without the Ultra Low Emission Zone. Mayor Sadiq Khan is now looking to extend the ULEZ across all of London. The ULEZ cuts pollution across London by charging drivers with cars that do not meet minimum emission standards £12.50 a day.

Wales is planting seagrass meadows to absorb carbon

Five million seagrass seeds will be planted off the coast of North Wales to create underwater meadows, which can absorb carbon and restore important marine habitats. Wales lost 92% of its seagrass in the last century. The goal is to plant 10 hectares (25 acres) of climate-change fighting meadows by 2026.

Indian Ocean states take a stand against overfishing

Countries in and around the Indian Ocean voted to temporarily ban certain kinds of industrial fishing gear that have decimated fish populations. After the three-month trial, those devices will be used at reduced quantity and catalogued in a public register to avoid overfishing.

These devices catch fish that are too young to reproduce, making it extremely difficult for collapsing populations to stabilize. They also tangle non-target fish that small scale fishers rely on for their livelihoods.

New Mexico blocks almost 200 oil and gas drilling permits

Tribal nationals and environmental groups have won a court case to block a large number of new drilling permits in the Greater Chaco region of New Mexico. The judges ruled that the Trump administration had broken the law by failing to consider the impacts to human health and climate change.

The Greater Chaco region, covering parts of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona, has been the home of many tribal nations for over 2,000 years. It includes a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers glimpses into Chacoan life between the ninth and 15th centuries.  

10,000 women saved India’s rarest stork from extinction

The hargila army has been campaigning to protect the rarest stork in India, which used to be persecuted as a pest but plays a crucial role in keeping ecosystems healthy. 

The 5ft scavenger bird was seen as a bad omen and carrier of disease. Villagers would attack them, cut down trees, and burn their nests. But the stork has since become a cultural symbol and not a single nest has been cut down in over a decade.

Wales stops all major road projects for the climate

All major road building projects in Wales have been scrapped due to environmental concerns. The Welsh government has declared that all future roads must pass strict criteria by not increasing carbon emissions, the number of cars on the road, or negatively impacting the environment.

This call to action follows a country-wide year-long review that analyzed 55 road projects, discovering that they had potential to increase cars on the road and carbon emissions. Of the 55, only 15 will be able to continue work in the future.

positive environmental news: the earth with the sun cresting over the horizon, quarter moon in the distance

Positive Environmental News 2023 – January

Kicking off the year with a healing ozone layer and new marine protected areas in January’s line up of positive environmental news:

Warsaw endorsed the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty

Warsaw has become the first Polish and Eastern European city to endorse the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty, a global initiative advocating for a rapid transition from coal, oil, and gas. The Treaty has been endorsed by the European Parliament and World Health Organization. Warsaw joins more than 70 other cities in a call for this treaty.

Engineers develop a method to make hydrogen out of air

In September 2022, chemical engineers in Lausanne developed a device that can harvest water from the air and provide hydrogen fuel, entirely powered by solar energy. The process effectively mimics photosynthesis, and the gas it produces can be injected into trucks, trains, or planes with hydrogen fuel batteries.

China added a record amount of solar to the grid in 2022

While China broke records for coal output in 2022, it also added a record amount of solar capacity and is expected to break records again in 2023 in its decarbonisation efforts.

China is expected to grow its solar power capacity by 30% and will likely add 95 to 120 gigawatts (GW) of solar power throughout the year. Their current total installed capacity is 392.61 GW.

The US announces $100 million for environmental justice

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced record grant funding for environmental justice as part of the Inflation Reduction Act. $30 million will be offered to community-led projects focusing on public health, while $70 million will go to projects led by state, local, and tribal governments.

Eligible projects must focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and indoor air pollution. They must also mitigate risks from urban heat, extreme heat, wood heater emissions, and wildfires.

Earth’s ozone layer is on track to heal by 2040 

Following action by governments to phase out ozone-depleting substances, the hole in the Earth’s ozone layer is set to completely heal by 2040, aside from the polar regions. The ozone will be fully healed by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2066 over the Antarctic.  

The ozone hole risked exposing people to harmful ultraviolet rays, and was once the most feared environmental threat facing humanity. 

The UK government is being sued over the Cumbria coal mine

Friends of the Earth is taking legal action against the UK government over its decision to approve the UK’s first major coal mine in over 40 years, claiming that it was approved unlawfully.

They state that they have failed to account for significant climate impacts or how the move to green steelmaking will be impacted by the coal mine.

No rhinos were poached in the world’s largest reserve last year

For the first time in over 45 years, no rhinos were poached in Kaziranga National Park in India’s Assam state. This area is home to 2895 one-horned rhinos, which is two thirds of their world population.

Poachers killed more than 190 rhinos in Assam between 2000-2021. Authorities are boosting efforts to stop poachers by implementing a task force and regular patrols.

European states will establish new Marine Protected Areas

Italy, France, Spain, and Cyprus are working on an agreement to establish a large Marine Protected Area in the Mediterranean to meet EU biodiversity and sea protection targets. The goal is to protect 30% of land and seas by 2030. Today, there are 29 marine protected areas and two underwater parks.

Australia to crack down on big polluters

Australia’s Labour government released a plan to slash industrial emissions from 215 of the country’s largest oil and gas operators, steelmakers, and cement manufacturers.

These industries are responsible for 28% of Australia’s total emissions and are required to reduce their emissions by 30% by 2030. Starting in July, big polluters are expected to cut their emissions intensity by 4.9% a year.

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