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Reasons for optimism

When it comes to the climate crisis, it can feel like wave after wave of bad news, making the situation feel hopeless which is not likely to change behaviour.

The truth is, if you look for it, there is some positive news on the climate front. People are changing their habits at an individual, corporate, national and international level and this is having an effect.

Here are some reasons to feel positive when it comes to climate change…

Emissions are falling in China

The world’s biggest polluter, China, recorded a drop of 8% of carbon emissions in the June quarter and a 3% drop year on year.

There were a number of factors behind this including a slump in real estate, Covid-related restrictions and the expansion of renewable energy.

This could be the start of permanent decrease, or it could be short lived, but it did mark the fourth consecutive quarter which saw pollution fall in the country.

China has committed to the UN that its emissions will peak before 2030.

Renewable energy is on the up

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), more people are now employed by the clean energy industry than fossil fuels.

Investment in clean energy (defined as renewable energy, electric vehicles (EVs), energy efficiency measures and nuclear power) has grown by 12% per year since 2020. More than 80% of investment in the power sector is being spent on renewable energy, new grids and energy storage.

Spending on solar power is particular is cause for optimism. The IEA estimates that spending on solar, batteries and EVs is currently growing at a rate that would mean reaching global net zero emissions by 2050. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has seen European countries shift towards renewable energy and a record northern summer of solar generation avoided spending €29bn on gas. Thirty five per cent of electricity used by the EU27 countries came from renewable energy, compared to 16% from coal.

Climate change legislation passed in US

Historically the biggest emitter in the world, the US has finally passed a piece of major climate change legislation through Congress. The Inflation Reduction Act could see a 43% cut in emissions by 2030.

This legislation will lead to $370bn being spent on clean solutions with the majority of it available only to goods manufactured in the US. As well as the environmental impact, it could have the additional benefit of increasing competition and lowering costs on the international market.

Australia is upping its game

It’s not just the US - Australia has also passed an important piece of climate change legislation which will also see a reduction in emissions of 43% by 2030. Australia had been seen as lagging behind on climate change so this legislation is significant.

Obviously there’s still so much more to do but if the constant bad news stories are starting to drag you down, don’t forget there are reasons for hope, too.

John Martin