5 good news stories about climate change

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1. Australia passes first major climate legislation in a decade

Earlier this year, Australia elected a new prime minister who pledged to make significant progress on climate change — a matter that had largely been ignored in the country before. The new leadership is already making good on this promise. PM Anthony Albanese announced new legislation that will slash the nation’s carbon emissions by more than 40% before the end of the decade.

The bill is the first major climate-related legislation to pass in the country in over a decade. It’s a major shift in approach for the nation, which has been one of the last remaining industrial countries to drag its feet on setting carbon reduction goals. Now, Australia has one of the more aggressive and ambitious targets.

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2. Sierra Leone gives citizens the right to veto environmentally destructive projects

Here’s a novel idea: instead of allowing major projects to crop up in a community and make people deal with whatever disruption and harm it may bring, how about allowing that community to have a direct say in whether those projects get to move forward? That’s exactly what Sierra Leone is going to do. Under new laws, local communities will have the right to veto any environmentally disruptive project from mines to factories and farms.

If a company wants to launch into any sort of development that could have long-lasting impacts on a community, they will have to seek community members’ approval. It’s a major step toward autonomy over land for a nation that has dealt with significant pillaging of natural resources.

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3. Germany subsidizes public transport and vastly decreases emissions

Earlier this year, Germany made the decision to subsidize the cost of public transportation methods, making all regional buses and trains available for a small monthly fee in order to encourage people to ditch their cars and other more carbon-intensive modes of transportation. It worked. According to the country, it managed to cut an estimated 1.8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in just a few months.

The experiment, initially launched to help the public curb some of the costs they had to incur because of inflation and an energy crisis tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, proved to be a major success for the environment. Future plans that make public transit both affordable and accessible could follow.

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4. Switching to renewable energy is going to save us lots of money

Occasionally, you’ll hear claims that making the shift to clean energy sources like wind and solar power is expensive. Creating new infrastructure and building all of the panels and turbines needed does have a cost, but a new study shows that doing so actually saves us a lot in the long run. According to Oxford University, ditching fossil fuels for renewables could save $10 trillion globally by 2050.

The study takes into account the ongoing cost of fossil fuel and the cost associated with switching to clean energy alternatives. The findings are quite stark. As clean energy continues to get cheaper, there is strong evidence to suggest the fiscally responsible thing to do is to ditch dirty-burning fuel in order to save money and the planet.

5. Wyoming carbon capture plant could remove 5 million tons of carbon per year

There is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that cutting down on emissions might not be enough. We might need to actually take emissions out of the air. Carbon capture technology promises that it is capable of exactly that, and one of the most ambitious projects in the space is going to launch in Wyoming soon. Its goal is to remove 5 million tons of carbon emissions—the equivalent to taking one million cars off the road—per year by 2030.

If successful, this project could have major implications going forward. Being able to successfully remove carbon from the atmosphere at scale could drastically improve our odds of fighting off the worst effects of climate change.

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