Headlines from 2018 have painted a gloomy picture about the state of the climate. We’ve seen deadly hurricanes and wildfires, heatwaves and flash flooding. There’s no question, climate change is already making our lives harder, we have very little time to make some huge changes to tackle it.
But positive change is happening - if you know where to look. Across the world many people - from small communities to big governments - have been rolling up their sleeves and making a difference. Let these good news stories inspire you to tackle climate change yourself in 2019.
Renewable energy is powering more and more of our lives
Solar power hit new heights in the summer thanks to the sunny weather. One Saturday lunchtime solar overtook gas as our number one source of electricity. Then in the autumn wind power took up the mantel. In September, the world's largest working offshore wind farm opened off the coast of Cumbria (it covers an area equal to 20,000 football pitches!). Windy days in October meant 98% of Scotland’s electricity came from wind.
But can we quit fossil fuels completely? A bunch of places certainly think so. Wales has ruled out new coal mines and restricted fracking. Meanwhile Bristol and Manchester both released plans to go carbon neutral in the 2030s, California is planning to stop using fossil fuels by 2045, and Costa Rica is doing the same by 2021!
Solar is making people’s lives better all over the world
For many communities not currently connected to electricity, solar power is making a massive difference. One hard to reach community in the Himalayas used to rely on dim, smoky oil lamps - now they have solar for lighting and computers. In rural Kenya, solar suitcases in schools mean when a blackout hits classes can continue - and students are already seeing improvements in their grades. And in the early months of recovery after a huge hurricane hit Puerto Rico, solar power has helped hospitals and community centres get back up and running fast.
Big organisations are taking their money out of fossil fuels
This year, Ireland became the first country in the world to sell its investments in fossil fuels. New York City is divesting $5 billion and suing oil companies for their contribution to dangerous global warming. Lots of big universities are doing the same - after a long student campaign, Edinburgh uni is going fossil free. Since the move to divest from fossil fuels started, we’ve hit 1000 companies pledging to divest a total of $6 trillion!
The way we get around is changing
Electric vehicles are on the rise all over the world. There are now so many electric buses that in 2018 we’ve saved about 279,000 barrels of oil... per day! In London, electric black cabs are becoming a more and more common sight, and in Edinburgh, posties are now delivering letters in electric vans. More and more zero carbon school buses are hitting US streets. They're clean, they're safe, and they sing!
And so is the way we eat
In January, takeaway company Just Eat predicted veganism would be their trend of the year. And it seems they were right. One third of Brits are helping tackle climate change by reducing the amount of meat they eat. And across the world, 70% of people are reportedly either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether - driven by Millenials.
There’s still a lot to do, but these inspiring stories light the path ahead. We need a lot more of this stuff to happen next year if we’re going to tackle climate change. So bring on 2019 - let’s make it happen!
Photo by Constantine Fountos