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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

My Top Sustainability Stories of 2019

2019 has been exceptionally busy on the sustainability front. It's felt like the world has finally started to wake up to the crisis. Although governments and large companies are still not yet willing to make the huge changes that will be required of them, they are at least considering how they can become more sustainable in the future. Baby steps, but certainly steps in the right direction.

Although COP 25 was hailed a huge disaster with many countries just not willing to commit to the reductions required, the disappointment and public outcry for change will mean that soon enough, countries will have to step up and take responsibility, if not for the planet, then for their people.

So here we have some of my favourite positive stories from over the past year. There has been ALOT and so I may have added in a fair few below. As w enter into a new decade, I just hope that we will see an even bigger increase, in not just demand but mobilisation. After all, with so many companies setting 2030 targets, the time for change really is now!

January

Veganuary sees 250,000 people take part
At the beginning of the year, Veganuary saw the largest number of participants take part in the challenge. Over the month we say many of the restaurant chains embrace new recipes and food options with some continuing them on after the month ended.

Hi Fly Airline completes its first plastic-free flight
Portuguese airline Hi Fly this week became the latest high-profile brand in the transport sector to implement a ban on single-use plastic items, following similar moves from the likes of Heathrow Airport, Thomas Cook and Virgin Australia.

February

Nottingham Council unveils 2028 target to become UK’s first carbon neutral city
Nottingham City Council has committed to becoming the first ‘net-zero carbon’ city in the UK after setting the ambitious target of 2028 to go carbon neutral. The council has already met its energy target goals two years early of 26% and are on track to meet its 20% of energy to be generated from low carbon sources by 2020.

The biggest offshore wind farm in the UK starts supplying energy in February
A windfarm off the Yorkshire coast was set to supply its first power to the UK electricity grid last week. The windfarm, once complete will dwarf the current largest and with 174 turbines it will be on a par with conventional fossil fuel-fired power stations. Go green energy!

Amazon has set a goal for Net Zero on shipping 
Amazon has a long-term goal to power their global infrastructure using 100% renewable energy. With improvements in electric vehicles, aviation bio fuels, reusable packaging, and renewable energy, they now believe they can see a path to net zero carbon delivery of shipments to customers, this has led them to set the goal of reaching 50% of all Amazon shipments with net zero carbon by 2030. They're calling it project "Shipment Zero” and is a huge positive step to a net zero future.

March

Etsy to offset global shipping emissions
Etsy have made the commitment to offset all of their carbon emissions from shipping its products which make up 98% of Etsy's total emissions. A Huge

April

Samsung to stop using plastic packaging
The company made the commitment however they will still be using recycled and other bio-plastic alternatives. The end goal for the company is to be using 500,000 tons of recycled plastics by 2030 along with collecting 7.5 million tons of discarded products as well. This initiative will reduce the amount of raw plastic the company is purchasing and help the planet in the process

A Thai supermarket was praised for their use of wasted banana leafs being used as packaging in their stores. Although not a perfect plastic solution, it does pose the question of what natural waste materials can we use to transport and group items together. After all, nature makes many products which we waste in processes.

Reforestation is the answer to climate change 
It's simple really. Something many of us have been banging on about for years but trees really could be the saviors of us all with findings confirming that the cheapest way to avert the climate crisis is to restore and replant degraded forests so that they can return to being the lungs the earth so desperately need.

May

Probably one of the best stories of the year, following weeks of peaceful protests the UK government declared a climate change emergency. Although this declaration is not legally binding in any form, it was a start to a wave of positive action across the globe as other countries recognise the need to change our ways before its too late.

Oxford city council creates a citizen assembly for Climate change
Oxford city council were way ahead of the government as they are getting ready to create the first citizens assembly in the UK regarding climate change. The first meeting will be held in September. Fingers crossed we will start to see this trickle through the rest of the country as soon as possible as well!

New York City introduce a new green Bill
New York passed a bill that which will mean all new residential and commercial building across the city will have to have either solar panels, mini turbines and plants (or all three if they fancy), following in the footsteps of San Francisco, Toronto, Portland and Denver. It's hoped that the move will reduce emissions to the equivalent of removing 1 million cars off the road by 2030!

We Found Out Who The Top 100 People Killing The Planet Are
The title of this may not sound super positive but someone has compiled a list of the names and locations of the CEOs for the top 100 CO2 polluting companies in the world. It finally puts a name to the company and publicly calls for them to realise that it is their responsibility to do better. I for one am excited to see more people calling out individuals for the companies that they are responsible for in the future.

The Guardian Newspaper changed it's language around the Climate Emergency
A small but very significant act saw The Guardian change how they were addressing the climate emergency. The change saw a wave of support and positivity as the newpaper made it clear that they are calling out those who are deniers and demonstrating the urgency of the problem through their pieces. I for one made the change in how I write on my little internet site and I would encourage you all to use it in your day to day lives as well!

June

Finland pledges to become carbon neutral by 2035
Finlands new government have pledged to become carbon neutral by 2035 as part of a policy programme. The pledge will see large increases in in spending around welfare and infrastructure with increase of 1.23 bn per year of public spending.

Theresa Maylegally commited Britain to halting global warming contribution by 2050
Following on from the declaration of a Climate Emergency by the British Government, Theresa May's last act before leaving office saw her legally commit the UK to reaching Net Zero by 2050. Now all we need is the action plan to get there!

Michael Bloomburg launched campaign to close all US coal mines by 2030
Michael Bloomberg has pledged $500m towards a new campaign to close every coal-fired power station in the US by 2030. It's a bold commitment but any bold move to help tackle the climate emergency is surely a great thing!

July

Worlds biggest youth-led conservation scheme began in Wales
The youth movement has been monumental this year with many young people finding their voice to protest and to act. This youth led conservation scheme in Wales shows the power of determination in a world where many adults are still unwilling to take young people seriously with volunteers working with tenant farmers, landowners and local people to enhance habitats in order to protect the local flora and fauna.

Hotel Giant IHG removes small toiletry bottles from their hotels just in time for the summer holidays
IHG, owner of Holiday Inn, InterContinental and Crowne Plaza announced a ban on miniature plastic toiletries in its rooms and suites. With nearly 843,000 rooms the ban is expected to prevent 200 million mini plastic bottles from becoming waste each year.

August

Greta Thunberg heads to New York for Climate Conference by Boat
Greta Thunberg has been at the centre of the climate debate. Her no flying rule so far meant she travelled only via train across Europe. August however take her no flying rule to a new level with the 16-year-old Swede hopped on a solar powered yacht to cross the Atlantic Ocean from Plymouth, UK to New York City, US to attend the 2019 UN Climate Action Summit

September

Over 6million people, from trade unionists to schoolchildren, have taken part in global climate strikes in thousands of towns and cities.around the world. The numbers are staggering and encouraged many to believe the climate crisis was finally becoming mainstream, especially for the #FridayforFuture

Pop up stores are becoming a way for companies to engage with customers and  encourage eco-activitism. So far Body Shop, Patagonia and Timberland have all opened pop up stores with talks and activities to meet other like minded people. Here's to more brands trying to make a positive difference for people and the planet.

Gucci go arbon neutral in their own operations and across our entire supply chain, accounting for all the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions we generate. Although this has mainly been tackled by offsetting, it is a great start and part of their clear strategy which they outlined how they will become carbon neutral through a mixture of reduction, elimination and offsetting for what it calls “unavoidable emissions”.

October

Wind became Cheaper than Gas
For the first time ever wind power became cheaper than gas with wind turbines in Scotland generating almost twice the entire country’s domestic power requirements in the first six months of 2019. With this progress, the UK is officially on track to meet its goal to generate a third of its power from wind by 2030. Go WIND!

November

Ikea has pledged 100 million to support direct suppliers as they switch over to renewable energy use along with investing around 100 million euros in projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere through reforestation and forest protection. The investments will be part of IKEAs work to make the business climate positive.

Condé Nast has become the first media company to sign the UN fashion for Global Climate Action initiative, joining brands like Nike and Stella McCartney in a promise to bring the fashion industry in line with the goals of the Paris agreement.

December

The news about the climate emergency has certainly spread and that is mainly down to a 16 year old girl who's determined to get the world talking. May the actions finally start to speak louder than words in all countries!

Black Friday campaigns seem to bring out the best and worst of brands and for Patagonia its certainly the best. As part of its Patagonia Action Works platform, Patagonia encouraged members of the public across the world to donate to grassroots organisations working to preserve and restore nature, assuring viewers that Patagonia would match donations up to $10m. The fantastic news is this was reached two weeks early!

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