There’s been no shortage of bad climate news this year: unprecedented global warming is spawning deadly extreme weather events, scientists are issuing warnings that next year will be even worse, and the The world’s carbon pollution continues to rise.
But amid the gloom, there are also signs of progress. Renewable energy records have been set, the world is celebrating one of its greatest environmental victories and countries are taking a cautious but historic step towards a fossil fuel-free future.
Here are five reasons to be optimistic.
As the need to rapidly phase out fossil fuels that are warming the planet has become increasingly urgent, there are some clean energy bright spots around the world.
On Halloween, Portugal began a record-breaking streak. For more than six days in a row, between October 31 and November 6, the country with more than 10 million people relies solely on renewable energy sources that provide an exciting side- say for the rest of the world.
The year 2023 is on track to see the largest increase in renewable energy capacity to date, according to the International Energy Agency.
China, the world’s biggest climate polluter, has made lightning strides in renewables, with the country set to break wind and solar targets five years early. A report published in June found that China’s solar capacity is now greater than that of the rest of the world combined, in a surge described by the reports’ author, the Global Energy Monitor, as shocking.
However, it cannot be ignored that China has also increased coal production this year, turning back to fossil fuels as damaging heat waves increase energy demand for air conditioning and cooling, and because the ongoing drought in countries in the south affected hydroelectric supplies, which depend on sufficient rainfall.
Expectations have been raised that the country’s coal production will rise and fall soon, when China and the US in November announced that they will continue cooperation on climate change, promising a major ramp-up of renewable energy, especially to replace fossil fuels.
After more than two weeks full of negotiations, the COP28 climate summit in Dubai ended last December with nearly 200 countries making an unprecedented commitment to move away from fossil fuels.
While the agreement falls short of requiring the world to phase out coal, oil and gas in more than 100 countries it supports, it calls on countries to contribute to a transition away from fossil fuels in the systems. of energy. This marks the first time that all fossil fuels, the main drivers of the climate crisis, have been targeted in a COP agreement.
COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, who led the negotiations, called the agreement historic, adding that the agreement represents a paradigm shift that has the potential to transform our economies.
how The impact of this agreement will ultimately depend on what countries do next to implement it. Many experts warn of loopholes that could leave the door open to the continued expansion of fossil fuels.
But that a deal has been struck by everyone on fossil fuels is widely welcomed and seen as a success.
We’re enabling people to do things they’ve never done before, US climate envoy John Kerry told CNNs Christiane Amanpour after the summit, describing it as a historic achievement.
After years of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon, there has been good progress this year in reducing deforestation.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and protecting it is seen as essential to combat climate change. It acts as a carbon sink that absorbs planet-warming pollution from the atmosphere. When forests or trees are destroyed, they release greenhouse gases. Deforestation and land degradation are responsible for at least one-tenth of the world’s carbon pollution.
Deforestation in Brazil fell 22.3% in the 12 months to July, according to data from the national government, as President Luiz Igncio Lula da Silva began making progress on his pledge to curb the widespread destruction of forest that happened under his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
Marcio Astrini, head of the advocacy group Climate Observatory, described this as an impressive result that closes the Brazilians to return to the climate agenda.
Still, Brazils deforestation rate remains nearly twice the all-time low of 2012. About 9,000 square kilometers of rainforest were destroyed during the season. There is still a long way to go to fulfill Lulas’ promise to reach zero deforestation by 2030.
The Earth’s ozone layer is on track to fully recover within decades, a UN-backed panel of experts announced in January, as ozone-depleting chemicals are phased out worldwide.
The ozone layer protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet rays, but since the 1980s, scientists have warned of a hole in this shield due to ozone-depleting substances, including chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which widely used in refrigerators, aerosols and solvents.
International cooperation helped prevent damage. An agreement known as the Montreal Protocol, implemented in 1989, began the phase-out of CFCs. The subsequent recovery of the ozone layers is recognized as one of the world’s greatest environmental achievements.
If global policies remain in place, the ozone layer is expected to recover to 1980 levels by 2040 for most of the world, the review found. For polar areas, the recovery time is longer: 2045 in the Arctic and 2066 in the Antarctic.
A study published in November, however, casts doubt on this development. The paper, published in Nature Communications, found that a hole in the ozone layer over the Antarctic not only remained large in place, but also became deeper during most of the Antarctic spring. But some scientists doubt the findings of the studies, saying that they rely on too short a period of time to draw conclusions about the layers’ long-term health.
The popularity of electric vehicles has soared this year, with sales in America at an all-time high. People in China and Europe are also getting EVs in large numbers.
Electric vehicles that are better for the planet than gas and diesel-powered cars if they run on renewable energy sources are the key to decarbonizing road transport, which is responsible for nearly one the sixth global warming pollution, according to the International Energy Agency.
Americans will buy 1 million fully electric vehicles in 2023, an annual record, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Electric vehicles will account for about 8% of all new vehicles sold in the US in the first half of 2023, according to the report. In China, EVs account for 19% of all vehicle sales, and globally, they account for 15% of new passenger car sales.
EV sales in Europe increased by 47% in the first nine months of 2023, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (EAMA). However, car dealers have warned that sales are slowing as consumers wait for cheaper models, expected in two to three years.
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