As the end of the decade approaches, we have reflected on the good eco-news stories that have stood out to us.
It's easy to feel disheartened, worried or even anxious about the environmental state of the world (eco-anxiety, its a thing!). While it is true that we are facing immense challenges, there are some incredible initiatives in place, resulting in positive steps forward toward a more sustainable future. These should be celebrated!
For many of us this once was the pinnacle of the effects of climate change. The United Nations Environmental Protection agency announced this year, that if the same momentum is maintained, within our lifetime certain areas the hole in the ozone will be completely closed. The replenished layer of the ozone will protect present and future generations, filtering the sun's harmful rays.
In September, around 6 million people around the world took part in climate rallies. It was an unprecedented display of connection, action and information sharing, that forced policy makers to pay attention. In Australia, the protests were likely the largest public demonstrations in Australia since the marches against the Iraq War in 2003.
While larger corporate companies were the leaders in the early switch to renewables, more recently smaller to mid-sized organisations like schools, vineyards and the Sydney Opera House have also negotiated corporate renewable Purchase Power Agreements to reduce their emissions. Investment in renewable energy, means that these companies are choosing to support sustainable commodity supply. This will make tangible difference to a healthier environment, as well as set an example for other small, mid and large corporates.
The species, after almost being wiped out completely by whaling practices in the 20th Century, have come back from the brink of extinction. Scientists have been shocked at how well, and how quickly, the population of whales has grown. This is a clear example of how we can reverse detrimental human impact.
Along with declaring a state of emergency, the European Parliament also stated they needed to cut emissions by 55% by 2030 and want all relevant legislation passed in the parliament to align with keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees celsius. The end goal is it to become climate neutral by 2050. This necessary and powerful declaration, from an influential source, offers a more optimistic outlook for our planet.
Australian thought-leader Damon Gameau’s documentary 2040 has been a game-changer for many that have viewed. The documentary began at grass-roots level and has since gained international traction.
“A story of hope that looks at the very real possibility that humanity could reverse global warming and improve the lives of every living thing in the process. It is a positive vision of what ‘could be’, instead of the dystopian future we are so often presented.” - 2040 Documentary
A third of the members of the Paris Agreement that represent around 58 million urban citizens, have steadily reduced their greenhouse gas emissions, with a handful of cities reducing their emissions by at least 10%. London, Berlin and Madrid succeeded in some of the most significant reductions, at an average of 30%. While there is a lot left to do, by these countries successfully lowering their emissions, it shows the world that it is possible.
After the first wave of spring bushfires tore through Port Macquarie and a vast stretch of Northern NSW, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital set up a GoFundMe campaign with a goal of $25,000 to rescue and rehabilitate injured koala's. Within in days the campaign far exceeded the goal, currently still growing at $1,974,690. The funds were initially to support the hospital with medical supplies to care for the injured koala's, and has now meant that drinking stations have been implemented in areas affected by bushfires, as well as a water carrying vehicle to replenish the stations. The success of the campaign has pathed the way for two large scale initiatives that would have otherwise been inconceivable. The first is the building of a Koala's Ark, a facility where surviving koalas can be accommodated in a healthy habitat area. The second, is a wild koala breeding program - an initiative as timely as ever. This campaign is one of Australia's most successful GoFundMe campaigns.
A look to 2020
2019 showcased the immense resilience of people, and ultimately what can be achieved when we band together, collectively working towards positive environmental change.
Here’s to a phenomenal 2020, with thought-leaders and activists trailblazing environmental sustainability, innovation and regeneration.
"We have the capacity to create a remarkably different economy: one that can restore ecosystems and protect the environment while bringing forth innovation, prosperity, meaningful work, and true security."
Paul Hawken - Environmentalist, entrepreneur, journalist, and author.