Scientists said the climate could stabilise with decisive action, Norway pulled ahead in the race to drive combustion engines off the road and the US state of Georgia elected its first black senator – plus the week’s other positive news
Mankind has already emitted enough carbon dioxide to blow past internationally agreed limits on warming – that’s the bad news. The good news is that this baked-in heating could take longer than previously thought to take effect, buying us time to adapt and develop technological climate fixes – but only if we reduce emissions fast.
Those are the conclusions of a report, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, which estimates that baked-in heating (heating we have already committed to through historical CO2 emissions) will push global temperatures to 2.3C above pre-industrial levels. But not, potentially, for centuries.
“The good news is [the emergence of] this committed warming is a very slow process,” said study co-author Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University. “That means if we can get emissions to net zero soon, we can stay below 2C for a very long time, giving us more time to adapt. Our work emphasises the need to reduce emissions as quickly as possible in order to avoid large near-term warming.”
Image: Esse Chua
The pastor of a church that was at the heart of the civil rights movement has become the first black senator to represent Georgia, a former confederate state that fought for slavery during the American civil war.
Rev Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, beat his Republican rival, Kelly Loeffler, in one of the state’s two runoff elections on Thursday, a day that was overshadowed by the storming of Washington’s Capitol building by Trump supporters.
In his victory speech, Warnock acknowledged the social progress that had been made in Georgia, where his mother worked many years ago as a cotton-picker. “The 82-year-old hands that used to pick somebody else’s cotton went to the polls and picked her youngest son to be a United States senator,” he said.
Image: Raphael Warnock/Creative Commons
Norway is leading the race to drive carbon-belching combustion engines off the roads, it emerged this week. Car sales data revealed that in 2020 it became the first country to sell more electric vehicles (EVs) than petrol or diesel cars.
Of all new cars sold in Norway last year, 54.3 per cent were electric, like the one pictured. The rising popularity of EVs there is thanks to generous tax breaks for zero-emission cars, introduced to help the country achieve its ambitious goal of ending the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025.
With road transport accounting for around 21 per cent of the EU’s total emissions, driving combustion engines off the road is vital to tackle the climate crisis. However, EVs come with their own environmental problems, chiefly the sourcing of minerals to make their batteries.
Image: Remy Lovesy
For decades, banks have been able to use their depositors’ money to invest in the fossil fuel industry without having to worry too much about their customers walking away in protest.
However, a survey of 1,250 UK adults by Deloitte suggests that depositors are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about what banks are doing with their money – with seven in 10 claiming they are more likely to choose a bank that has a positive environmental and social impact.
“Issues such as climate change and sustainability are playing a more prominent role in customers’ behaviour,” said Deloitte’s Richard Hammell. “Now more than ever, they have access to information about the impact that businesses have on society and the environment, and they’re using that to select the financial products they want.”
Image: Micheile Henderson
If 2020 showed us anything, it’s that things can fall apart unexpectedly. But the pandemic has also shown us that, even when life is turned upside down, people are capable of the most extraordinary things.
Enter the new edition of Positive News magazine, which is packed with stories of hope and inspiration, offering respite in these challenging times.
“This issue shows that, as well as the opportunity to get in touch with our own greatness when things fall apart, there are also people near and far to help us rebuild,” wrote editor, Lucy Purdy. “I hope that theme shines through and inspires you into the year that awaits.”
Image: Positive News magazine
A record half a million people have signed up to take part in the 31-day Veganuary challenge this year – a further sign that plant-based diets are breaking into the mainstream.
According to the organisers behind Veganuary, supermarkets in the UK are helping enlist new recruits by launching new plant-based products and creating dedicated Veganuary pages on their websites.
“The way British supermarkets have embraced Veganuary this year is truly gamechanging,” said Veganuary’s Toni Vernelli. Read the full story here.
Image: Ralph Ravi Kayden
As millions of elderly and vulnerable people in the UK face yet more time stuck inside with limited social contact, a new archive service is offering them a valuable lockdown lifeline.
The Living Memories portal contains more than 2,000 archive films and newsreels from the 1930s to the 1970s. The idea of the service is to encourage older people, including those with dementia, to reminisce with families, friends and carers about the ‘good old days’.
“Archive films are a wonderful way of prompting older people to share memories and life experiences,” said founder Brian Norris. “This is important in combating isolation, especially now that Covid-19 means many elderly people are unable to access community groups or even see their own families.” Read more here.
Image: Museums Victoria
Main image: Ian Parker