This has without a doubt been a difficult year, but amidst the gloom, there are plenty of glimmers of hope. Here are some recent environmental good news stories to provide some cheer this month:
One massive piece of good news for the environment is the result of the US Presidential election. Donald Trump was responsible for rolling back many, many environmental protections. And of course, he withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement.
President Biden's green agenda may not go far enough for some. But most environmentalists agree that his proposals take the US (and the world) in the right direction. Not least, his decision to rejoin the Paris Agreement means that the US will be working once more towards tackling our climate emergency on the global stage. Which should give us at least some hope for the future of humanity.
Enlil is the first vertical, smart wind turbine. It has been designed to harness the natural wind energy as well as that of the wind created by passing vehicles. It also has a solar panel on top. An integrated smart system in these turbines, which are designed for installation along carriageways on busy roads or highways, also means that they can measure things like CO2 levels, and collect useful data.
The team of Devecitech who created this idea won the climate launchpad urban transition award in Scotland and have received plenty of positive attention for their contribution which could help to shape the transportation networks and cities of the future.
A new renewable energy deal struck between the City of London Corporation and French green energy firm Voltalia means that thousands of solar panels in Dorset will soon help to power the Square Mile of Britain's historic financial centre. This 49 Megawatt project, to be built by Voltalia, is expected to provide half the energy required to run the Square Mile's Guildhall Buildings, Barbican Arts Centre and Smithfield Market.
The City of London last month set out new climate targets to become carbon neutral by 2040, a decade ahead of the UK government’s 2050 goal. And this is a notable step in progress towards this goal, and the solar farms will be created without the need for government subsidy.
Since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic, there has been plenty of talk about reductions in air pollutants due to lockdown measures. NASA researchers wanted to know how much of that decline was due to pandemic-related shutdowns, and how much would have occurred without the pandemic.
The scientists created computer models to show a Covid-free 2020 for comparison, and found that, since February, global nitrogen dioxide concentrations have been reduced by 20% by pandemic restrictions. This confirms beliefs that while countries had done a good job in recent years of lowering their concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, there is still a significant human behaviour-driven contribution.
There is an understanding that hydrogen will form an important piece of the puzzle in the UK's net-zero transition. But in 2019, more than 95% of the hydrogen produced globally was created using fossil fuels. Low carbon hydrogen creation must be a priority, and green hydrogen projects on the Isle of Wight and in the Midlands have been given the go-ahead.
Now, in another positive move for the hydrogen sector, the Scottish government has allocated £1.8 million to Orkney's European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) to produce green hydrogen using a flow battery and tidal power system on the Island of Eday. It is expected to come online early next year.
Researchers in Australia have found that there is great potential to grow native grasses for mass consumption, after a study that tested 15 different species was carried out in New South Wales. A native millet, or panicum, was discovered to be the most promising grain. It was discovered to be easy to grow and harvest, easy to turn into flour, and quite a lot more nutritious than wheat.
The findings are not only promising when it comes to future food security in Australia. Growing these native grasses was also found to bring a wide range of environmental benefits. These perennial grasses sequester carbon, support greater biodiversity, and help in preserving threatened habitats and species. More study is needed. But this research yields promise of win-win solutions for people and our planet.
The Scottish renewable energy sector is streets ahead of that south of the border. But plans are afoot to make sure that green energy generated up north can power homes and businesses in England. Three of the UK's biggest energy companies have agreed to build huge underwater power cables to bring Scotland's vast reserves of renewable energy to millions of homes in England.
This energy superhighway, known as the 'Eastern Link' will run south from Peterhead and Torness 270 miles south along the east coast of Scotland to Selby and Hawthorn Point in the north of England. Construction will begin in 2024 and is expected to bring hundreds of green jobs.
There are some great things happening around the world, and important lessons we have learned. We have to be able to see the good along with the bad to stay motivated and see that there is hope, and change is possible. If you enjoyed reading this blog and haven't already signed up to our free subscription, join the Bear Pack and keep in the loop with all the positive environmental news stories from around the world on a monthly basis and be ahead of your friends in the knowledge of juicy environmental news.
As part of the Bear Pack you are also legible for all our exclusive discounts that we give out only to our members as a little thankyou for staying committed to us and our sustainable ethos.
Stay safe out there.