I’m excited to launch a new series on my blog that has been in the works for a while. The news is overwhelming and it can be difficult to stay informed about current events without giving in to doom-scrolling. What I find helpful are short summaries or briefings on environmental news. With such newsletters, I can get a snapshot of positive and negative headlines relating to sustainability. As some of my readers may not have the time or inclination to sign up to these news briefings, or troll the web for sustainability updates, I thought I would take initiative. This new series is a quarterly briefing on sustainability news that I think are important and interesting. I hope you find this series helpful! Here is my first post on sustainability news for spring 2023!
In case you missed it:
Historic Ocean Treaty Agreed
Good news for the oceans! The High Seas Treaty was agreed after extensive talks at the UN headquarters on 4th March 2023. The last international oceans agreement was in 1982, and at the time only 1.2% of international waters were protected. As approximately 10% of the world’s marine species are at risk of extinction, this new Treaty establishes protection for 30% of the global oceans. The High Seas Treaty limits fishing, shipping lanes, and resource exploration (e.g. deep sea mining and marine pharmaceuticals).
Read the BBC article
Restoring Britain’s Lost Rainforests
Conservationist Guy Shrubsole recently published a new book discussing his work on mapping and protecting British rainforests, with the aim of doubling their size in a generation. I was fortunate to listen to him speak on his work, and I’ve linked the recording of this talk below. Restoring temperate rainforests in Britain is an important part of climate action and nature recovery strategies because of their ability to sequester carbon, and their rich biodiversity of lichen, fungi, and plant species. These woodlands have mainly been destroyed over the past few hundreds of years with logging, farming, and development and now cover less than 1% of Britain.
The Wildlife Trusts have started a new £38 million project on restoring British rainforests. This aim is part of the larger UK net-zero targets, and to protect at least 30% of land and sea for nature by 2030.
Watch Guy Shrubsole’s talk on the Lost Rainforests of Britain here.
Wind and Solar Energy Gaining Popularity in EU
Great news for renewable energy in the EU! In 2022, wind and solar supplied more electricity than any other power source for the first time. This solar and wind supply was 22.3% of the total EU electricity in 2022. This year, a big fall in fossil generation is expected as countries seek to phase out coal and the Ukraine War has disrupted international gas supplies . This is just one example of the increase in reliance on renewables that we are seeing globally.
Ohio Train Derailment and Plastics Regulation
Not good news at all. At the beginning of March there was a massive train derailment in Ohio, USA, leading to the release of toxic chemicals used in plastics production. This spill has killed more than 43,000 fish and other aquatic animals in the region. What has made this disaster worse is that contaminated soil from the site is being incinerated. The combustion of vinyl chloride (and other hazardous chemicals transported) creates dioxins, which can remain in the environment for years, posing a threat to human and environmental health.
This disaster is part of a larger issue with plastic corporations lobbying governments against federal safety measures in the US, but also plastics pollution regulations in Canada. Find out more on on what Ecojustice is doing in Canada to fight this here.
England Bans Single Use Plastic
Last, but certainly not least, England is finally banning single use plastics! The Government announced in January that a range of single-use plastics will be banned from October 2023. Banned items include: single-use plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, balloon sticks, and certain types of polystyrene containers. It is estimated that England uses 2.7 billion items of single use cutlery per year, and was in the top 15 most littered items in a 2020 audit. We can and must do better, England!
Read more on Sustainability Issues here:
- Minimalism – Helpful or Detrimental to Sustainable Living?
- A Simple Action: Creating Dialogue on Sustainability
- Environmentalism, Intersectionality, and Racism