With news stories about out-of-control wildfires, devastating floods and other natural disasters, it might cross your mind that little progress is being made on the Sustainable Development Goals.
However, you might be surprised that there are many promising signs of sustainable change occurring around the world.
Here are some of the promising signs that the world is heading on the right track.
The Rise of Renewable Energy
Over the past 12 months, there have been positive signs of sustainable change when it comes to renewable energy.
Renewable Energy Becoming the Primary Source in Europe
In Europe, wind and solar produced more electricity than gas in2022. Early estimates in 2023 are also positive. Experts are forecasting a further reduction of gas usage by 20%. Wind and solar energy are rapidly becoming the EU’s primary electricity source, and there are no signs of it slowing down.
Over 40% of Power in the US is Generated by Carbon-Free Sources
Meanwhile, in the US, carbon-free sources supplied more than 40% of the country’s total energy output in 2022. The metric takes into consideration solar, wind, hydro and nuclear sources. The report stated that nuclear and hydropower energy remained at similar levels. Most of the growth came from wind and solar.
China’s Renewable Energy Targets to be Achieved Five Years Early
In June 2023, China revealed it had begun constructing enough wind and solar projects to achieve 1371 gigawatts by 2025. The original goal was 1200 gigawatts by 2030. The past two years have seen China install record amounts of solar panels. As the price of materials is coming down in2023, the country is ramping up efforts to complete as many projects as possible.
Bans on Substances Impacting theEnvironment
Many countries have implemented bans on various materials to reduce their carbon impact.
Single-Use Plastic Bans in England
Countries like Scotland and Wales have bans on single-use plastics. Now England is following suit. While detailsare not yet finalised, it’s believed it will include plastic cutlery and plates. There is also a discussion on the ban on miniature hotel toiletries.
Scotland Phasing Out of Desflurane
In Scotland, the country has banned the inhaled general anaesthetic desflurane due to its environmental impact. According to reports from the UK’s NHS, the gas has a global warming potential 2,500 times greater than carbon dioxide. The EU plans to ban the use of the anaesthetic by 2026.
France Bans Deep-Sea Mining
In January 2023, France voted to ban deep-sea mining in its waters. It joins Germany, Spain, New Zealand and Costa Rica in ceasing this practice which disrupts species in the ocean’s depths. There is also a concern it could release greenhouse gases within the soils.
Other positive signs of sustainable change around the world include new legislation from governments.
The US Announces Plans to Reduce Emissions
US President Joe Biden’s Inflation ReductionAct was passed in August 2022. It includes $369 billion to increase renewable energy sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Changes have already started. The clean energy sector announced new manufacturing plants throughout the country. Investigations into the viability of green hydrogen industries are also underway.
Spain Billing Tobacco Companies for Cleanups
In addition to a ban on single-use plastic cutlery and plates, Spain introduced new environmental regulations.One includes tobacco companies paying to remove discarded cigarettes on the country’s streets.
Australia Caps Coal Mines and Oil Refineries
Australia announced new legislation in early 2023 that requires coal mines and oil refineries to curb their emissions by 5% per year. Over the next ten years, the law will reduce 200 million tonnes of carbon emissions.
Edinburgh Endorses Plant-BasedDiets
Lastly, Edinburgh became the first European capital to endorse a plant-based diet to address climate change. The Plant-Based Treaty aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture. It will introduce carbon labelling on menus and bring more plant-based meals to schools and council buildings.
There are multiple projects and sustainable production initiatives in development throughout the world.
The World’s Largest Cross-Border Power Line
In April 2023, the UK and the Netherlands announced plans to build the world’s largest cross-border power line.It will deliver clean energy to 1.8 million homes across Europe. The line connects to an offshore wind farm that can transfer 1.8 gigawatts of electricity.
The Netherlands Green Initiatives
The Netherlands revealed it would spend €28 billion over multiple years to meet its 2030 climate goals. One plan is lifting taxes for polluting industries. They will also introduce subsidies for second-hand electric cars, home insulation and solar panels.
Many companies have promoted their products as climate-neutral or containing recycled materials. But soon, they will have toback up these claims.
The European Commission has drafted a legal proposal to attempt to stamp out greenwashing. It hopes to ensure that environmental claims are proven using a science-based methodology. One example is the product environmental footprint framework which tracks impacts across 16 categories, including climate change and air.
This proposal came after an assessment of 150 claims about various products’ environmental characteristics. Over half of the claims were discovered to be vague, misleading or unfounded.
More Signs of Sustainable Change
While these developments show some positive signs of sustainable change, there are even more examples of the world moving in the right direction. There is still plenty of work to do. But stories about improvements in the ozone layer or reductions in deforestation in the BrazilianAmazon are promising.
As citizens, we also need to do our part. Our children’s book, Ally & Bibi: Back to the Jungle, provides real-life stories and examples of social and environmental solutions that can help everyone transition to a more eco-friendly world. It even includes 3 sustainable actions for children and adults.