Climate action + impacts around the world
Climate news around the world and a guide to electrify your life
The news these days is full of innovative climate solutions from every corner of the globe. From groundbreaking renewable energy records in Texas and China to Hawai’i's renewable paradise, it’s clear the tide is turning. Here are six examples of change that's happening.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, nearly half of the city’s heavy vehicles — including garbage trucks and sweet sweepers — are now fueled by vegetable oil rather than gasoline or diesel. The city hopes to convert all its vehicles to sustainable fuels by 2031.
In Nigeria, the new president Bola Tinubu announced in his inaugural address he was phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. The subsidies amounted to nearly $500 million a month. Tinubu is “re-channeling the funds into better investment in public infrastructure, education, health care and jobs that will materially improve the lives of millions.”
The other weekend, Texas set a new record with 36 percent of the energy on its grid being generated by solar. That’s in addition to the third that’s already coming from wind. Meanwhile in China, it’s estimated that carbon emissions peaked in 2023 and are now on the decline, thanks to a record renewable energy installation. This past year alone, China installed more new solar energy than the U.S. has in its entire history. I think it’s time for Texas to catch up, don’t you?
Then there’s Hawai’i, where 33 percent of people already have rooftop solar panels, 15 percent of new cars sold are electric, and the state just replaced their last coal-fired power plant with a giant 185 MW battery that can release the same amount of electricity as the coal plant, but much faster.
As climate impacts intensify, there’s no shortage of not-so-good news around the world, either. Climate change is loading the weather dice against us, making many weather extremes stronger and more dangerous.
In California, climate-fueled atmospheric rivers are becoming stronger and more frequent. Thousands remain without power as a state of emergency has been declared in 8 counties so far. In Chile, hundreds of people are still missing as record wildfires have swept through the central and northern parts of the country. As I explain here, climate change doesn't usually start wildfires; rather, it creates the unusually warm, dry conditions that allow fires to spread out of control.
In Colombia, El Niño is driving the dry conditions that are leading to raging wildfires that currently threaten about half the cities in the country. It’s clear that climate change is playing a role here too, though. Not only is it warmer than it would be otherwise but a recent study has determined that climate change, not El Niño, is the primary driver for the drought currently impacting the Amazon river basin, including the southeastern part of Colombia as well as regions of Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.
In Sierra Leone, climate change has exacerbated recent flooding and mudslides, leading to an uptick in human trafficking as people try to flee increasingly difficult circumstances at home. Many people have been lured to jobs abroad that turned out to be exploitative and not what they were promised. In the past three years, ”there has been an increase [in the number of people] and the vulnerability has increased too,” Christos Christodoulides, head of the UN Migration Agency in Sierra Leone, told Al Jazeera Media Network.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Every day, we’re exposed to toxic fumes from the fossil fuels we use in our everyday lives. Electrifying our homes and appliances is a great way to improve our health, save money, and cut carbon pollution at the same time.
Rewiring America just came out with a handy Personal Electrification Planner that guides you through options tailored to your specific situation, whether you rent or own. The planner allows you to create a personalized electrification plan that aligns with your home, lifestyle, and budget, and it's designed to be quick and user-friendly. If you live in the US, they also provide access to rebates offered under the Inflation Reduction Act, making the shift to electric more affordable.
Check it out and, as always, share what you learn with others around you! Talking about climate solutions is a good way to make them contagious.
Tues., Feb. 6th at 2:45pm ET - John Ray Initiative's 25th Anniversary Celebration - webinar, registration required
Tues., Feb 13th at 7pm CT - Finding Hope Amid Climate Change with Samford University - in person at The Wright Center in Homewood, AL