Good Tythings

31st May 2024

Erin LynchErin Lynch

Cherry-picked stories of progress and innovation in the fight against climate change.

Encouraging Trends

  • Conservation Works: Scientists show how Conservation helps Biodiversity

    A decade-long global study has confirmed that conservation efforts are significantly reducing global biodiversity loss. Reviewing 665 trials of various conservation measures from across the globe, researchers found that two-thirds of these interventions had positive outcomes. Notable successes include a 74% reduction in deforestation rates in the Congo Basin and the doubling of Least Tern breeding rates in Florida. The study, published in Science, offers hope for the future of threatened species, despite one in three monitored species being endangered due to human activities. Co-author Dr. Penny Langhammer highlighted that “This study provides the strongest evidence to date that not only does conservation improve the state of biodiversity and slow its decline, but when it works, it really works.”

Positive Policy

  • EU Adopts Landmark Law Mandating Human Rights Due Diligence for Big Businesses

    The European Union has enacted the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), a groundbreaking law requiring large companies to identify and address human rights and environmental impacts within their operations and supply chains. This directive will be implemented by the 27 EU member states over the next two years. The CSDDD mandates that companies with over 1,000 employees and significant turnover must take proactive steps to, among other things, create a transition plan for climate change mitigation — including the transition to a sustainable economy, and achieving the Paris Agreement objective of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C.

  • Australia and Tuvalu form Historic Agreement for Climate Refugees

    Australia and Tuvalu have agreed a historic treaty to provide climate asylum to Tuvalu's population, set to be implemented by the end of 2024. The treaty, signed by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Tuvalu Prime Minister Kausea Natano will grant permanent Australian residence to 280 Tuvaluans annually, potentially and eventually accommodating all 11,200 inhabitants of the archipelago, which is severely threatened by rising sea levels. This treaty, the first bilateral agreement focused on climate mobility, is seen as a significant step in addressing climate-induced displacement.

  • UK Bans Live Animal Exports

    The UK has enacted a long-campaigned-for ban on exporting live animals for slaughter and fattening, following the Royal Assent of the Animal Welfare (Livestock Exports) Act on May 20, 2024. This legislation ensures that cattle, sheep, pigs, and other livestock will be slaughtered domestically under high welfare standards, ending the stress and suffering caused by long export journeys. This move responds to over 50 years of advocacy by organisations like the RSPCA, Compassion in World Farming, and The Sustainable Food Trust. The Sustainable Food Trust celebrates this move and recent increases in local abattoir funding as vital steps towards creating a sustainable food system in the UK.

Innovation in Tech

  • Mammoth: Climeworks Unveils Massive Carbon Capture Facility in Iceland

    Climeworks, a leader in direct air capture (DAC) technology, has launched its newest and largest carbon capture plant, Mammoth, in Hellisheidi, Iceland. The facility, which is ten times the size of its predecessor Orca, signifies a substantial advancement in Climeworks' mission to combat climate change by removing CO₂ directly from the atmosphere. Erin Burns, executive director of Carbon180 remarked that “Just a few years ago, I think a lot of people wouldn’t have believed that this could’ve happened, and that it could’ve happened as quickly as it did.” This is just the beginning. U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 1 billion metric tonnes of CO2 will need to be captured to counteract emissions from key hard-to-decarbonise industries like steel, paper, and cement.

  • AI Model Maps Global Tree Canopy Heights for Better Carbon Tracking

    Scientists from tech giant Meta and the World Resources Institute (WRI) have developed a high-resolution global map of canopy heights using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence, aimed at enhancing carbon tracking and forest conservation efforts. This groundbreaking project utilises an AI model to predict canopy heights, even in areas with limited data. Canopy height is a crucial indicator of forest biomass, biodiversity, and aboveground carbon stock. It helps measure the progress of forest restoration and provides insights into carbon storage capabilities, which are essential for addressing climate change. Better monitoring can help improve targeted conservation efforts, habitat and biodiversity analysis and policy making.

Challenging Power

  • ClientEarth Defeats UK Government in Court for the Second Time Over Inadequate Climate Strategy

    The High Court has ruled in favour of ClientEarth and its partners against the UK government's climate strategy for a second time. In January 2022, ClientEarth submitted a landmark climate case to the High Court arguing that the government failed to show that its policies will reduce emissions sufficiently to meet its legally binding carbon budgets — targets which limit the total amount of greenhouse gases that the UK can emit over five year periods on the road to net zero. July 2022, The High Court ordered the government to revise its Net Zero Strategy, which it did, but ClientEarth then argued that the revised strategy failed to adequately address the risks of not meeting emissions reduction targets, and relied on unproven technologies and uncertain proposals. The court found that the government's plans were not sufficient to meet legally-binding carbon budgets and lacked transparency. A new climate strategy is now expected within the next 12 months, providing an opportunity for the government to implement more effective and transparent policies to combat the climate crisis.

Grassroots Success

  • From Lawn to Table: DIY Microfarm Feeds Neighborhood

    The Guardian's new "My DIY Climate Hack" series is showcasing how individuals across the United States are using DIY methods to tackle the climate crisis in their own neighbourhoods. One of their latest features discusses how Beverly Lofton, a retired resident of Hyde Park in south Los Angeles, transformed her water-guzzling lawn into a productive micro-farm. In the United States, over 40 million acres of land are covered by lawn or turf grass. Lawns and gardens account for 60% of household water use in arid areas of the US, and synthetic fertilisers, gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers all contribute negatively towards climate change.

    In collaboration with local organisation Crop Swap LA, Lofton removed her turf in her front-lawn, installed raised beds, a drip irrigation system using recycled water, and a solar-powered setup for sustainable energy use. The farm now grows a variety of vegetables and fruits, which are distributed to neighbours through Crop Swap LA's affordable membership program. Hyde Park is considered a 'food desert' — with more and more grocery stores closing and local families struggling to access healthy, organic and non-processed foods.

    Lofton's project, and the Guardian series, shows how individual actions and community partnerships can address both food insecurity and environmental issues at a local level, potentially providing a blueprint for others to follow in their own neighbourhoods. Lofton writes how one of the most powerful effects of her project has been connecting with other members of the community and empowering others to consider their own solutions to environmental challenges they face.