With worrying news stories and alarming reports about climate change coming out all the time, we have to be careful not to be so overwhelmed by all the negativity that we become unable to see the forest for the trees. It is in the nature of how media works that mainstream news providers tend to overlook or to downplay the stories about good things that are going on at the same time as all the havoc and discomforting news.
In particular in the field of renewable energy, 2018 gave us many landmark moments and remarkable news headlines that called for optimism. Though frustratingly slowly, the story is changing. For instance:
In the US, there are now 86 cities that have committed to go 100 per cent renewables, and that number continues to rise.
2018 marked the first time that new clean energy capacity outpaced that of fossil fuels in developing nations, and in Europe, solar is now cost-competitive enough to no longer require government subsidies.
In Germany, renewables overtook coal as the country’s main energy source last year.
2018 was a record year for solar installers in Australia, and there are now more than two million Australian households with rooftop solar. That means that five-million-plus have solar on their roof, more than a fifth of the population. Polls show persistently that more than eight out of ten Australians support a renewable energy future. And regardless of the federal government’s attempts to prolong the climate-destructive era of the coal industry, researchers have estimated that at its current rate, Australia is actually on track for 50 per cent renewable electricity in 2025.
» Small Caps – 22 September 2018:
Australia set to run on 100% renewable energy within 15 years
“Shopping centre giant Vicinity Centres is investing $50 million in the expansion of its solar program across a further 17 shopping centres across Australia. It has already spent $28 million towards solar installations at five centres across South Australia and Western Australia.”
Electricity prices forecast to fall 2.1% in two years due to wind and solar | Australia news | The Guardian https://t.co/ybi6xSXKoB— Lane Crockett (@LaneCrockett) January 6, 2019
Stop telling us it can’t be done. Melbourne just did it.
In 2018, Ireland’s government made the decision to divest itself of its fossil fuel investments, New Zealand’s Parliament passed a bill that puts an end to new offshore oil and gas exploration, Canada put a price on carbon, India started replacing more than three quarters of a billion light bulbs with LEDs, Bhutan expanded its forests and now absorbs three times more carbon than its population emits…
Many countries have announced a target of 100 per cent renewable electricity generation by 2050 – numerous countries and states even two or three decades sooner than that.
South Australia, for instance, is predicted to hit 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, while the Australian Capital Territory is on track to hit 100 per cent renewable energy already by 2020.
In the United States, the world’s fifth-largest economy California is targeting 100 per cent clean electricity by 2045, and the state’s governor has directed California to achieve carbon neutrality across all sectors by the same year.
At business-level, big companies like Apple have already achieved that goal.
BREAKING NEWS! California lawmakers just passed Senate Bill 100 (SB 100), legislation that will make CA the largest economy in the world to commit to zero carbon energy. #RightToZero https://t.co/GZVM03BJAG— Earthjustice (@Earthjustice) August 29, 2018
» Grist – 29 August 2018:
California wants all of its electricity carbon-free. How’s that possible?
“A bill that just made it through the legislature requires the state’s electricity to come entirely from zero-carbon sources by 2045.”
The list goes on. Below follows a random selection of headlines, research findings and stories about various positive developments and good news stories you may have missed during 2018.
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
~ Richard Buckminster Fuller, American author (1895–1983)
» The Conversation – 20 December 2018:
Ten feelgood environment stories you may have missed in 2018
“It’s sometimes hard to find hope amid the news of environmental degradation. Here’s some.”
» The Daily Climate – 23 September 2018:
Peter Dykstra: Good news and hope on an otherwise gloomy beat
» National Geographic – 19 December 2018:
This island was on the brink of disaster. Then, they planted thousands of trees
“Situated in the Zanzibar Archipelago, the island of Kokota has become an example of people adapting to climate change.”
» The Conversation – 10 September 2018:
At its current rate, Australia is on track for 50% renewable electricity in 2025
“The Australian renewable energy industry will install more than 10 gigawatts of new solar and wind power during 2018 and 2019. If that rate is maintained, Australia would reach 50% renewables in 2025.”
» Climate Home News – 17 August 2018:
South Australia to hit 100% renewable power by 2025 – market operator
“AEMO predicts that South Australia is likely to hit 100% renewable energy by 2025.”
» VT – 23 November 2017:
Costa Rica has just run on 100 percent renewable energy for 300 days
“Costa Rica has purportedly run for a whopping 300 days solely on a mixture of hydro, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar energy. For a small, developing country, Costa Rica is really putting the world’s powerhouses to shame with its commitment to clean energy.”
» World Economic Forum – 11 September 2018:
California pledges to use 100% clean energy by 2045
» Yale Climate Connections – 9 August 2018:
This man powers his whole house, plus two cars, with the sun
“His faith motivated him to go solar.”
» Fast Company:
Spain wants to phase out coal plants without hurting miners
“We will no longer sign commercial agreements with powers that do not respect the Paris accord.”
~ Emmanuel Macron, French president
» The Independent – 26 September 2018:
Macron rejects trade deals with countries outside Paris climate accord
“The French president is calling on other countries to join him in refusing to sign new deals with ‘powers that do not respect’ the Paris Accord.”
What are the most positive developments you have seen in the past year in the climate field?
“I’m asked what gives me hope on a daily basis, and my answer is, I don’t find hope in my science, I find it in people. Over the last few years, the number of people who want to talk about and do something about climate has increased exponentially.
Then, there is the unexpected leadership of organisations such as Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, RepublicEN, the Iron and Earth group – young professionals in the oil and construction industries who want to be part of the move from fossil fuels; and the take-up of renewables even in conservative states like Texas, which now gets 20% of its energy from wind and solar power.
Finally, there’s the encouraging news such as solar being the fastest-growing power source around the world, clean energy jobs growing from India to the US, and new technology being developed every year that drops the price and increases the accessibility of fossil fuel alternatives.”
~ Katharine Hayhoe, an American atmospheric scientist and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University
» The Guardian – 6 January 2019:
Katharine Hayhoe: ‘A thermometer is not liberal or conservative’
Renewables now cheaper than fossils
» Bloomberg – 18 September 2018:
Solar With Batteries Cheaper Than Gas in Parts of U.S. Southwest
‘This is spreading and will continue to spread,’ BNEF says
Due to the falling cost of wind and solar (and the higher cost of black coal), it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind and solar plant than to continue operating old coal power stations in NSW and QLD.— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) December 4, 2018
ANOTHER massive wind energy project in Queensland is set to begin construction in 2019, with the ability to power all of Hobart!— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) December 4, 2018
Via https://t.co/kR6ScK2GFT | @renew_economy | @sophvorrath pic.twitter.com/jjnQfA1X4f
Green Bank Network is expected to mobilise AU$55B in in public and private capital to fund large-scale and low-carbon infrastructure projects – especially in emerging economies.— Climate Council (@climatecouncil) December 4, 2018
Via https://t.co/GyjMBjgKQq | @UNFCCC pic.twitter.com/cZxb5up6Rm
India cancels plans for huge coal power stations as solar energy prices hit record low— Bruce Ross (@brucerossbrc) December 15, 2018
“For the 1st time solar is cheaper than coal in India & the implications this has for transforming global energy markets is profound"
Follow @LotusEnergyCoop #bepartofithttps://t.co/ottS79aC9q
225 million people live in ‘resilient cities’
The work of 100 Resilient Cities “affects more than 225 million people in our member cities, their safety, health, and livelihoods. But this is not just about cities in the 100 Resilient Cities network. It’s also about sparking inspiration and creating tangible, credible examples for institutions and cities all over the world.
Faced with irreversible global trends, cities will see more risks and more calamitous events. We will continue to support member cities responding to acute disasters, as we’ve done for the S19 earthquake in Mexico City, the drought in Cape Town, and the collaborative ReImagina Puerto Rico.
100 Resilient Cities remain steadfastly committed to supporting cities as they plan and implement innovative solutions and create long-lasting and transformational impact. In the new year, we hope that you will continue to join our cause in whatever city you may live, providing your opinions, your expertise, your critical thinking, and your passion.”
~ Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation
» C40 Cities:
Deadline 2020 – Cities Delivering the Most Ambitious Climate Action for a Healthy, Prosperous Future
“Deadline 2020 is a commitment from the world’s leading cities to urgently pursue high ambition climate action, demonstrating how we can deliver on the Paris Agreement.”
“Climate change presents an unprecedented economic opportunity to transform the global economy, creating trillions of dollars in new economic value in the creation of a global green economy. Cross sector partnerships are required to develop, finance and most implement technologies and policies that will enable this transition.”
~ The Sustainable Innovation Forum 2018
Cost of living in a fossil-free society will be around $30 per moth per person above the level of today
“Politicians need to get up to speed now. That is the unanimous message from a range of researchers. On the other hand, their message is also that you will hardly notice the slightest change in your daily life, even if you will have to live without coal, oil and natural gas.”
“Coal fired power plants replaced by wind farms. Oil and natural gas fields closed. Fuel for aircraft and large ships made of air and water. Smaller ships sail on electricity.
Does it sound wild and unattainable? It is not.
Technologies and solutions have already been invented. Now it’s about investing in them so they can be mass-produced, and so the price can come much further down, two of the researchers note. Then the cost of living in a fossil-free society will be around $AUS 30 per moth per person above the level of today, they say.
This figure is consistent with results from a number of Danish researchers.”
» Videnskab.dk [Science.dk]:
This is how cheap it is to get Denmark running on green energy alone
#StoryChange in the mining industry
The new chairman of global mining giant Rio Tinto has described inaction on climate change as “perhaps the greatest long-term threat” facing the business and promised it would be part of the solution rather than the problem.
Speaking at an investor meeting on Monday, Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said society – particularly Millennials – were demanding higher standards from the companies they worked for and invested their money in. He signalled a renewed emphasis from Rio Tinto’s board on environmental, social and governance issues, and on continuing to reshape its portfolio for the transition to a “low-carbon economy”.
“Speaking at an investor meeting, Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson said society – particularly Millennials – were demanding higher standards from the companies they worked for and invested their money in. He signalled a renewed emphasis from Rio Tinto’s board on environmental, social and governance issues, and on continuing to reshape its portfolio for the transition to a “low-carbon economy”.”
» Sydney Morning Herald – 26 November 2018:
Rio Tinto warns climate inaction poses ‘greatest long-term threat’
“The new chairman of global mining giant Rio Tinto has described inaction on climate change as “perhaps the greatest long-term threat” facing the business and promised it would be part of the solution rather than the problem.”
“Today, AMSA joins the likes of the American Medical Association and British Medical Association by announcing plans to divest from fossil fuels at the AMSA Global Health Conference 2018 – GHC18 Melbourne today. AMSA plans to remove its funds from fossil fuel portfolios, diverting its support towards sustainable and ethical alternatives. This announcement comes from months of collaboration between the AMSA National Executive and AMSA Code Green. AMSA acknowledges the harms of climate change to health and our plan to divest from fossil fuels shows our commitment to minimising them.”
» AMSA – 21 August 2018:
Australia’s future doctors refuse to invest in fossil fuels
The Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA), the peak representative body for Australia’s 17,000 medical students, has announced its intention to divest from fossil fuels.
» Sydney Morning Herald – 10 September 2018:
Landlords turning assets green and sustainable
“Owners of large-scale offices, warehouses and shopping centres are doing their bit for the long-time sustainability of the environment by targeting zero emissions and installing solar power.
What was once a tick-the-box exercise, being a good green landlord is now a priority to make the property attractive for tenants and prospective buyers.”
» Reuters – 3 January 2019:
Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s main energy source
“Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time last year, accounting for just over 40 percent of electricity production.”
» DW – 5 April 2018:
China leads in global shift to renewable energy
“Investment in renewable energy continues to grow at a record pace as countries look to move away from fossil fuel-based power production to eco-friendly generation. Over half of world’s new solar capacity is in China.”
“Giant wind and solar projects are powering energy-intensive mining operations in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Wind and solar installations have reached one trillion watts, drawing in $2.3 trillion in investment over the last 40 years. Corporate purchasing of clean energy so far this year has reached 7.2 gigawatts, surpassing the record set in 2017. Auto suppliers are adapting their efforts to take advantage of the rise of electric vehicles.”
~ Climate Nexus Energy Desk – 8 August 2018
» Bloomberg – 2 August 2018:
Green Energy Producers Just Installed Their First Trillion Watts
“The next trillion will cost $1.2 trillion by 2023, almost half of the price-tag for the first, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance”
“Developers of the 800-megawatt project expect to provide power and renewable energy credits for 6.5 cents a kilowatt-hour. (…) Offshore wind can be a competitive source of clean energy as costs continue to come down.”
» Bloomberg – 2 August 2018:
First Big U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Offers $1.4 Billion to Customers
“Massachusetts electricity users will save about $1.4 billion over 20 years from the first commercial-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S. Project expected to cut monthly power bills up to 1.5%. The wind project will be 18% cheaper than alternatives”
This feature allows you to compare information on emissions, climate vulnerability and readiness, and national climate targets across multiple countries. Select 2-3 countries to begin:
“Renewables provided almost half of all power generation in the southern states during July. South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania operated well with a 44% share of renewable generation. Average spot wholesale prices in Victoria and Tasmania reached their lowest levels since December 2016.”
~ The Australia Institute, August 2018 Electricity Update of the National Energy Emissions Audit
2018 was another record year for the Australian solar industry, with over 700 MW of solar installed in the first six months of 2018. This is almost 50 per cent higher than the year before, when the most solar power in history was installed across our nation’s rooftops, reported Clean Energy Council Chief Executive Kane Thornton.
» The Guardian – 6 August 2018:
Most Australians want more renewables to help lower power prices – poll
“Survey comes as Victoria and Queensland urged to block national energy guarantee and business groups call for deal to be approved.”
“ACT’s out in front, on track to hit 100% renewable energy by 2020! VIC’s not far behind, now it’s completed Australia’s largest renewable energy reverse auction! Can South Australia snatch the lead?”
~ Climate Council
» Axios – 20 November 2018:
Why solar is getting even cheaper
“Solar and wind facilities are now the least expensive option for new power worldwide, except in Japan, according to the consultancy Bloomberg NEF”
» Climate Action – 4 September 2018:
Renewable energy on the rise in Queensland
“A recent report by Green Energy Markets has shown that Queensland could see a dramatic rise in renewable energy.”
Proposed in Victoria, Australia:
Largest offshore windfarm in the world
The Star of the South windfarm proposed for a section of the coast off South Gippsland would be the largest offshore windfarm in the world and, in a very real sense, be a game changer for the energy system. The project’s predicted generation capacity totals 2,000 MW. The largest remaining coal powered generator in the Latrobe Valley is Loy Yang A, which has a maximum capacity of 2,200 MW. SOTS would provide for the energy needs of 1.4 million households. The project would create an estimated 12,000 jobs in the construction phase and 300 ongoing positions.
They have announced that they have secured finance.
A key blockage with this project is the fact that the federal gov is sitting on issuing the commonwealth approvals.
» Petition to the minister, urging him to get on with it
» BBC – 27 September 2018:
‘If Europe’s ports are underwater, Brexit may seem less important’: we’re expanding climate change coverage
“From 3 October The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 and Newshour on BBC World Service will be covering climate change every week.”
Matter Of Fact excerpt with Dr George Crisp and Claire Taylor
Earlier this year, Ingmar Rentzhog – a Swedish entrepreneur who founded and serves as the CEO of We Don’t Have Time, a tech start-up aiming to become the world’s largest social media platform for the climate crisis – raised US$1.2 million through the equity crowdfunding platform FundedByMe.
The start-up even got 200% oversubscribed, attracting over 430 investors from more than 15 countries, a mix of both ordinary citizens and angel investors.
“Right now, we are concentrating our efforts on building our platform. So far, as a kind of “teaser”, we have launched three action tools, one for sending climate love and climate bombs to chosen world leaders’ tweets, one for making a short selfie-video with a personal climate resolution, and a tool for carbon compensating your emails,” Rentzhog told Finance Monthly.
Greening the landscapes
Slowing down the passage of water through the landscape may change the climate. A story of hope. This is needed in the Australian outback to stop the fast flows when rain does fall thus protecting the land, the native animals and farmers livestock
“A Global Action Plan”
“In addition to scientists understanding and formulating this phenomenon, there are fascinating attempts at a solution being carried out on almost all continents—examples which can be scaled up worldwide.
Rajendra Singh, the “Water Gandhi” from Rajasthan, India, is one of these. Thirty years ago, he began greening parts of the Thar desert. He succeeded in completely revitalizing an area of 3300 square miles of extremely dry desert.
Singh mobilized the village communities to build thousands of water retention spaces according to traditional methods, so called “johads.” The scant precipitation (around seven inches) that still fell annually, often coming down all at once in a very short period of time, could thereby be captured and sink into the ground, and sufficed to reanimate nature. His initiative allowed 1200 villages to obtain a secure material basis.
A hundred thousand people are now self-sufficient in terms of water and food. Five rivers that had been completely dried out were brought back to life, and are constantly flowing the entire year through. In order to protect these waters from being exploited by multinationals, the village communities established “river parliaments” and could thereby keep the water in their hands. Singh’s initiative confirms the observations of Michal Kravcik.
After restoring the hydrological balance in such a vast area, the weather patterns changed fundamentally. The rains returned and increased. Nowadays they are as spread and balanced as they were long ago. Honoring his trailblazing efforts, Rajendra Singh was awarded the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, also known as the “Nobel Prize for Water.”
» Terra Nova Movement – 28 November 2015:
Water: The missing link for solving climate change
For people interested to learn more about this field, there is a great international webinar recorded by world recognised Australian soil microbiologist, Walter Jehne.
World leading film maker and ecologist John Liu, of Loess Plateau fame, publicly wrote of it:
“I find this to be one of the most rational and informative webinars I have heard. I really hope that people will listen and then join in a discussion so that this level of understanding becomes part of collective consciousness. This also requires that we realize that we are required to act on this and restore the Earth’s natural regulatory systems.”
Here is the video:
» Grist – 24 October 2018:
The debate is over: We need to start sucking carbon from the air
The Danish engineering company Ramboll and Google will collaborate on a type of software which could slash up to 30 per cent of the price on offshore wind turbines and foundations.
The single-use plastic era coming to an end
» The Guardian – 25 October 2018:
European parliament approves sweeping ban on single-use plastics
“Proposal passes 571-53, with Labour MEPs demanding UK mirror EU action after Brexit.”
» Climate Action – 15 October 2018:
PepsiCo signs deal to introduce 100% recycled plastic packaging
“PepsiCo have signed a deal with Loop Industries to introduce 100 per cent recycled plastic packaging.”
» Climate Action – 5 September 2018:
Henkel commit to 100% recyclable packaging by 2025
“Henkel have committed to making their packaging 100 per cent recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.”
» Climate Action – 4 September 2018:
Aldi to phase out plastic packaging in a number of stores
“Aldi stores across Plymouth are phasing out black plastic trays used for fresh food produce.”
» Climate Action – 4 September 2018:
Real Madrid’s third kit made by Adidas from recycled plastic
“Adidas and Parley for the Oceans have collaborated on the football team’s third kit.”
» ClimateAction – 24 August 2018:
New solar-powered watch is made from recycled plastic
“Two French designers are leading the way to reducing plastic pollution by creating a watch made from recycled bottles.”
» Climate Action – 13 September 2018:
“H&M have announced their new ‘Conscious Collection’ sustainable clothing line”
» Australia’s Science Channel – 7 June 2018:
The fungus that could avert global warming crisis
“Follow the unlikely heroes on a quest to deliver a genuine climate change solution. Award-winning documentary Grassroots follows the story of a group of scientists, agronomists and farmers on a quest to trap and store carbon in soil. It could be the only way to avert the global warming crisis – reducing emissions simply isn’t enough to avoid excessive warming.”
Australian policy reaffirmation
“All Pacific nations, including Australia, reaffirm that climate change remains the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific, and our commitment to progress the implementation of the Paris Agreement. … Leaders reaffirmed the importance of immediate urgent action to combat climate change and … called on countries, particularly large emitters, to fully implement their … mitigation targets, including through the development and transfer of renewable energy, in line with committed timeframes.”
~ The Boe Declaration in its first assertion. Australia was represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs.
» The Guardian – 6 September 2018:
Australia signs declaration saying climate change ‘single greatest threat’ to Pacific
Green Century Funds:
Investors are key to curbing climate change
Leslie Samuelrich, President, Green Century Capital Management, wrote:
Investors have an opportunity to protect our future. We know what’s causing climate change and how to address it.
We must curb global greenhouse gas emissions – and we must do it now. If we don’t, the problem will only get worse. According to the World Health Organization, heat stress, linked to climate change, is likely to kill 38,000 extra people a year between 2030 and 2050.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
At Green Century, we’re investing in companies that install solar panels not oil rigs, and manufacture solar panels not fracking chemicals.
Watch our video to learn more about how and why to start investing fossil fuel free. If you’re already divested, thank you and please help grow the movement by sharing this email with a friend.”
“It’s upwards of half a billion hectares we’re farming as a species. Soil is our largest terrestrial carbon sink, we need to know how to engage it if we’re going to make a difference.”
~ Guy Webb, agronomist, soilCQuest
“Restoring degraded lands offers another source for economic growth while tackling climate change on the ground. Globally, the nascent restoration economy is estimated to produce at least $9 billion in annual economic activity, with the potential to grow much larger.”
» World Economic Forum – 30 August 2018:
There is a forgotten solution to climate change that we must invest in – nature
The Australian Ethical team wrote on 4 May 2018:
“When someone comes along and says climate change is reversible and could lead us on a pathway to a better world, you can’t help but listen.
Paul Hawken, environmentalist and author, compiles the solutions from scientists to farmers on how individuals can play part in addressing climate change.
The good news is that the 80 ways to get there are based not on emerging technologies or concepts, but practises we already have. The solutions are ranked by effectiveness in their carbon impact through to the year 2050, along with the total net cost to society and total lifetime savings.”
» Read more on:
RenewEconomy newsletter: full of the good news
“I can’t remember a RenewEconomy newsletter so full of good news for us & our planet.”
~ Anthony Gleeson
Excerpt of RenewEconomy’s newsletter on 13 November 2018:
The Parkinson Report
Copyright © 2018 RenewEconomy
Here’s how we do it
Five big ideas to repower Australia with renewable energy
» Join GetUp’s campaign, ‘Let’s go big on Renewable Energy!’: Share this video with your MP!
‘Living the Change’
– Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future
New documentary by Happen Films
Living the Change explores solutions to the global crises we face today – solutions any one of us can be part of – through the inspiring stories of people pioneering change in their own lives and in their communities in order to live in a sustainable and regenerative way.
Directors Jordan Osmond and Antoinette Wilson have brought together stories from their travels around New Zealand, along with interviews with experts able to explain how we came to be where we are today. From forest gardens to composting toilets, community supported agriculture to timebanking, Living the Change offers ways we can rethink our approach to how we live.
Reclaiming the urban commons
We are in the midst of a great shift, a fundamental transformation in our relations with the earth and with each other. This shift poses humanity with a challenge: how to transition from a period of environmental devastation of the planet by humans to one of mutual benefit? How do we transform our relationship to the land, nonhuman lifeforms, and each other?
The new book ‘Reclaiming the Urban Commons’, edited by Nick Rose and Andrea Gaynor, argues this change begins with a deeper understanding of and connection with the food we produce and consume.
“This book is a critical reflection on the past and the present of urban food growing in Australia, as well as a map and a passionate rallying call to a better future as an urbanised species. It addresses the critical question of how to design, share, and live well in our cities and towns. It describes how to translate concepts of sustainable production into daily practices and ways of sharing spaces and working together for mutual benefit, and also reflects on how we can learn from our productive urban past,” writes the publisher.
» More info on www.uwap.uwa.edu.au