Good News Digest #2

Bad news related to climate change is hitting us at all angles. Fear and urgency are dominating the climate conversation. Yet positive climate stories and solutions are equally, if not more effective drivers of climate action.

They prove that solutions are working and are ready to be scaled. They show that nature is resilient and comes up with surprising ways of preserving itself. They send a clear signal to governments, policymakers, corporations and the wider public that there is a growing demand for cleaner technology and climate policy.

If you feel like you are drowning in bad news, we have collected lasts week’s climate change success stories to get you through the week.

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Cities are stepping up

New York City — On Earth Day, the New York City Council passed a set of bills under the NYC Green New Deal, with the overarching goal of reaching a 40% reduction of NYC's greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, and carbon neutrality by 2050. As part of the Deal, the Green Roofs act requires all new residential and commercial buildings to have plants, solar panels, and/or mini wind turbines, which will cool down the city, cut energy costs, absorb air pollution, reduce stormwater runoff, promote biodiversity, and more.

Read more: New York City Passes a Green New Deal, Requiring 'Green Roofs' on New Buildings

Denver, CO — Last Tuesday, a spokesperson for Denver's Department of Finance confirmed that the city's has completed its divestment from fossil fuels. Although the investments made up only a small fraction of Denver’s holdings, it sends a strong signal to other cities and generations to follow. The next step would be to divest the city’s holding in banks like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, key funders of fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Read more: Denver Completes Divestment From Fossil Fuel Companies

Sports are going green

Hockey — Last Monday, the National Hockey League (NHL) said it would purchase carbon credits to offset airline emissions for all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs (roughly 2,000 metric tons of CO2).

Read more: NHL to purchase carbon offsets to counter playoff air travel

London Marathon — Last Sunday, the organizers behind the London Marathon replaced plastic water bottles with Ooho edible, biodegradable seaweed pouches containing water. Unlike plastic bottles, the pouches cost less money to produce and decompose in less than two months.

Read more: London Marathon replacing thousands of plastic water bottles with biodegradable seaweed pouches

Pro-climate protests are multiplying

Sydney, Australia — Last Sunday, surfers paddled out at Bondi Beach to protest against oil and gas drilling in the Great Australian Bight. The gathering was part of a series of protests that have gathered force in recent weeks across Australia.

Read more: Surfers Fight to Block Oil Drilling in the Great Australian Bight

London, UK — Thousands of activists protested for 11 consecutive days to request the government to declare a climate emergency. It was a strategic and coordinated protest orchestrated by the Extinction Rebellion and endorsed by Greta Thunberg, which included people gluing themselves to the London Stock Exchange, blocking roads and major landmarks, and protesting outside the Bank of England and Goldman Sachs, funders of fossil fuel projects. Over 1,000 protesters peacefully submitted to arrest.

Read more: Why the climate protests that disrupted London were different

Universities are capturing carbon

Imperial College London — Today, Imperial College and startup Arborea launched the ‘BioSolar Leaf,’ capable of sequestering carbon and releasing oxygen with 100 times the efficiency of a tree and only using the surface area of one tree. The first of its kind in the world, this technology can be installed on land, buildings and other developments to improve surrounding air quality.

Read more: 'Biosolar leaf' project targets air pollution on London campus

Arizona State University — Professor Klaus Lackner, Director of ASU’s Center for Negative Carbon Emissions, developed “mechanical trees” that would allow captured gas to be sequestered or sold for re-use in a variety of applications (ie. synthetic fuels, enhanced oil recovery, food, beverage and agriculture industries). Unlike other carbon capture technologies, it can remove CO2 from the atmosphere without the need to draw air through the system mechanically, which makes it a passive, relatively low-cost and scalable solution that is commercially viable.

Read more: Unique carbon capture technology to be trialled

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