Youth climate activism and spectacular new species: Positive environmental stories from 2024

Youth climate activism and spectacular new species: Positive environmental stories from 2024

Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread — as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot — and often feel them ourselves.

While there’s a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate and nature crises, we must not lose hope — because hopelessness breeds apathy.

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The media has an important role to play in combatting climate doom. It’s our job to be truthful and accurate in our reporting, not trying to downplay or greenwash the situation. But it’s also our job to show that there is hope.

In 2023, as part of our ongoing effort to tackle eco-anxiety (both that of our readers and our own), we kept track of all the positive environmental news throughout the year. We racked up over 200 stories of eco-innovation, green breakthroughs and climate wins — more than double the number in 2022 and a sure sign of momentum.

In 2024, we’re confident the good news will keep on coming, as renewable power soars, vulnerable ecosystems gain rights, and climate protocols start to pay dividends.

This article will be regularly updated with the latest good news. It may be something small and local, something silly that made us smile, or something enormous and potentially world-changing.

If you come across a great, positive story that we haven’t covered here — please reach out to us on Instagram or X to share your ideas.

Positive environmental stories from January 2024

‘Be an actionist’: An environmental trailblazer’s inspiring message to climate activists from Davos

From being a kid trapped in a storm to walking the halls of power, 31-year-old David Saddington’s life has been shaped by the course of climate change and climate action in the UK.

“It was already clear in 2005 that this issue of ‘climate change’ was going to affect my life and generations to come,” he tells Euronews Green from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. “So I took it upon myself to make a noise in my school.”

But his fledgling climate activism took an unusual turn when he was invited to Downing Street at 14, to discuss the issue with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. He asked the PM to put climate change on the national curriculum — a measure adopted in 2007.

European Green Capital 2024: What does Valencia have planned for its year in the limelight?

The greenest city in Europe has officially upped sticks from the Baltic shores of Estonia to the Spanish Mediterranean.

Valencia took over as European Green Capital from Tallinn in a ceremony last week, kickstarting more than 400 sustainable events in 2024.

“Valencia has earned the Green Capital title because of its ambitious sustainability strategy, and it has learned from lessons in the past,” says EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.

‘Unique biodiversity’: Scientists discover four new species of octopus off the coast of Costa Rica

Scientists have discovered at least four new octopus species in a roughly 260-kilometre square area off the coast of Costa Rica.

“Through hard work, our team discovered new hydrothermal springs offshore [of] Costa Rica and confirmed that they host nurseries of deep-sea octopus and unique biodiversity,” says Dr Beth Orcutt from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences who co-led the expeditions on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor (too).

Poland’s new government commits to join EU ‘fight’ against climate change

The return to power of Polish prime minister Donald Tusk could see one of Europe’s least enthusiastic supporters of climate action in recent years throw its weight behind a radical new 2040 emissions reduction target.

Poland’s new government has promised a new coal phase-out date as it signalled support for a 90 per cent reduction in net greenhouse gas output across the EU by 2040.

Chicken bones ground into paste could help cut food waste and emissions

Food scientists have found a way to make chicken nuggets and fish cakes out of otherwise discarded bones and hard tissues.

The idea is to reduce food waste and carbon emissions from animal agriculture, by getting more mileage out of the meat, thereby requiring fewer animals to be farmed for the same output.

‘Spectacular’ growth in renewables in 2023 keeps COP28 pledge within reach, says IEA

Global renewable energy capacity grew by the fastest pace in the last 20 years in 2023, which could put the world within reach of meeting a key climate target by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Paris-based agency said rapid growth of solar in China was the main driver as the world added nearly 510 gigawatts — enough to power nearly 51 million homes for a year — with Europe, the United States and Brazil also seeing record growth.

Indoor solar power: These cells can harvest energy from any light source for battery-free devices

Solar cells that work in low light could help your devices go battery-free.

California-based company Ambient Photonics has been working on indoor solar cells since 2019, improving the performance and price of this emerging technology.

The cells can be ‘printed’ in almost any size and shape for use on everyday devices such as remote controls and wireless keyboards, potentially removing the need for batteries and decreasing the size and weight of electronics.

‘Historic win for animals’: South Korea bans sale and production of dog meat

South Korea’s parliament has passed a landmark ban on the production and sale of dog meat.

Although only a small minority of people still consume dog meat in South Korea, the ancient practise has been the subject of sharp criticism from foreign media and animal rights advocates. In recent years, the country’s younger generations have joined calls to ban it.

On Tuesday 9 January, parliament heeded their calls. 

Cigarette recycling: Slovakia is transforming filters into asphalt for roads

Bratislava is pioneering a new way to recycle cigarette butts.

The Slovakian capital’s municipal waste management company announced a new push to collect and reuse discarded cigarettes in 2024.

During the city’s Christmas markets, the group trialled special containers designed to collect both standard cigarette filters and those found in modern heated tobacco devices like vapes.

The city plans to use the discarded material to create asphalt for roads.

Heat pumps will be allowed on historic buildings under new UK rules

The UK government has announced it will relax planning rules on protected buildings in England to allow the installation of heat pumps and solar panels.

The measures are part of wider efforts to reach net zero targets.

France implements compulsory composting. Here’s how it will help slash emissions

As of 1 January 2024, organic waste recycling is mandatory in France under new ‘compost obligatoire’ rules.

With support from the government’s Green Fund, municipalities must provide residents with ways to sort bio-waste, which includes food scraps, vegetable peels, expired food and garden waste.

Food waste is responsible for about 16 per cent of the total emissions from the EU food system, according to the European Commission.

Our favourite positive environmental story from 2023

The richest country in Europe is celebrating three years of free public transport

If you’ve been living in the tiny EU state of Luxembourg you will already have had access to free public transport for the last three years.

Unsurprisingly on the anniversary of this novel and seemingly very expensive public initiative, almost everyone who uses trams, buses and trains in the tiny EU state says they’re happy with it.

«Since it’s free, it’s easier to make a decision quickly, to choose between public transport or a private car. This means that it is very positive for the environment and practical,» one man said whilst using the tram in Luxembourg City.

For more good news on the environment from last year, check out all of Euronews Green’s positive environmental stories from 2023.


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