The Future of Climate Change: 12 Positive Climate Stories from 2021

December 27, 2021
Avely Pütsep

Let’s be honest, 2021 was… an interesting year. Covid is still very much around and climate change is very real, not to mention the other horrible things that happened.

But 2021 actually had a lot of beauty in it, too! And that’s what this post is about: let’s acknowledge the beautiful climate change halting actions happening around us.

Here is news on halting biodiversity loss, reducing carbon footprints, becoming carbon neutral, cleantech innovations, climate change solutions, and everything in between from the whole of 2021. 🌿

Ready to look back?

January: Biggest ever survey on climate change finds 66% of people demand change

The year started out strong – people demanded change! 1.2 million respondents made the Peoples' Climate Vote the biggest ever survey of public opinion on climate change. A new approach meant a whopping 56% of the world’s population was covered.

The benefits? … are mind-blowing. For some countries, it’s the first time they’ve had access to systematically-gathered and analyzed information on what people actually think about climate change policy. This is a vital insight for countries to act on what people demand.

The results? … are also mind-blowing. Two-thirds of people around the globe said climate change is a global emergency. People demand protection and restoration of forests, but also renewable energy and climate-friendly farming, and promotion of plant-based diets. 🌿

The voice of the mass is clear: people want action ASAP.

February: Renewables Pulled Ahead of Coal

Let’s start with a bang: renewable energy passed coal in electricity generation in the US!

What bought it on? The low cost of wind and solar power combined with the steady performance of hydroelectric power!

Renewables have been on the rise since 2019, but 2020 was the first year renewables came out ahead in seven of 12 months. They also passed nuclear, although nuclear plant output has been fairly steady in recent years.

It’s important to note that gas still remains the leader leaving renewables behind. Natural gas consumption rose again in 2020 and is now far ahead of all other energy sources.

Nevertheless, renewables leaving coal behind give hope for a better and greener future.

March: United Nations adds natural resources to economic reporting

Single.Earth has been envisioning a future where wealth is tied to the health of the ecosystem. What seemed like a utopian fantasy to some and a brave new world for others is coming to life in front of our eyes with the UN’s historic decision.

The UN adopted a landmark framework to integrate natural capital in economic reporting.

What does this breakthrough decision mean?

  • The UN is making considerable effort to put the economy and environment into the same equation.
  • Ecosystem Accounting was brought to life. This takes into account the value of forestry projects and sustainable wood sources.
  • For the first time since World War II, GDP - which historically governs economic accounting -  has received a counterpart to reflect the economy’s impact on nature.
  • Single.Earth’s digital carbon and biodiversity instruments are in perfect sync with the UN’s EA monetary assets.

April: France bans domestic flights under a 2.5-hour train ride

French lawmakers have approved a ban on short domestic flights to reduce air traffic pollution.

If a plane journey could be done with a 2.5-hour train ride, then the plane ride is history!

The French government seeks to reduce carbon emissions from the aviation industry. This plan is part of a bigger climate bill that aims to cut French carbon emissions by 40% before 2030.

There’s been some backlash about whether now is the right time for this ban as the economy is still recovering from the COVID-19 crisis. But when it comes to halting climate change, there’s no time to wait. Some environmental campaigners have even said the bill doesn’t go far enough.

May: New report shows a direct link between human health and ocean health

A new report demonstrates that ocean health is “intricately linked” to human health.

The ocean has faced unprecedented challenges due to human action and it seems like we haven’t done ourselves any favors.

Just two examples of the direct link between ocean health and humans:

  • Swimming among pollution in the ocean is linked to over 250 million cases of respiratory illness and gastroenteritis each year.
  • Coastal communities are exposed to indirect damage to their health when fish stocks collapse. This restricts their access to food, severely reducing their livelihoods.

These examples are obviously not good news, but we should learn from it: we know now more than ever how important it is to protect the ocean and, ultimately, humankind.

Therefore, restoring the health of oceans shouldn’t only be a priority for marine scientists saving endangered species, but also the entire public and medical community.

June: New study reveals how much trees actually cool down cities

A new study is the first to calculate exactly how much the shaded areas from trees and buildings lower temperatures.

The results showed:

  • the importance of green spaces and water for lowering the average global temperature
  • that grassy areas, both shaded and exposed, provide significant heat-reducing effects
  • the more trees an area has, the lower the temperature

"We've long known that the shade of trees and buildings can provide cooling, but now we can more precisely measure exactly what that effect will be in specific instances, which can help us make better design choices," said the co-author of the study.

Beyond carbon sequestration and reducing carbon emissions, trees also keep spaces cool. Yet another reason why it’s so crucial to protect the greenery we have left, both in nature and cities. 🌱

July: Giant pandas are moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in China

In the last decade, the giant panda population increased by 17%.  

They’re still in danger, though, with human action being the biggest threat. But giant pandas have now moved from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

Why is it important?

  1. Giant pandas are no longer on the endangered list.
  2. It’s a clear indication that conservation actions really make a difference.

Let’s hope conservation efforts continue at full speed to help save more species from extinction.

August: Mallorca marine reserve boosts wildlife and business

A marine protection area off the coast of Mallorca is proving beneficial to wildlife and nature.

Moreover, a study now finds it’s beneficial for business, too: the protected area delivered a big return on investment!

The Marilles study showed that the overall value of tourism, diving, and boating was high, not to mention the impact on biodiversity and habitat protection.

The results of the study show the numerous social and economic benefits that come from protecting the sea,” said Aniol Esteban, the Marilles director. “Healthy seas and coasts are essential for a country’s prosperity. Spain is committed to declaring 30% of its waters as marine protected areas by 2030.”

🌊 It’s amazing to see more and more waters getting protected!

September: Reforestation could help save coral reefs from a catastrophe

Increasing reforestation efforts in coastal regions could substantially improve coral reefs’ ability to stay alive.

A study was conducted in Australia to figure out how reforestation may affect the health of coral reefs.

The University of Queensland-led study analyzed more than 5,500 coastal areas from around the world.

The result? 85% of the areas have sediment that poses a serious threat to reefs. Reforestation may be the answer to stop the runoff from land to sea.

Yet another clear sign of how everything in nature is connected and why we should protect it.

October: Language used to describe climate change is becoming more urgent

It seems like people are waking up. Climate change is increasingly being described as urgent.

The Oxford English Dictionary found that between 2018 and 2020, the use of ‘climate crisis’ and ‘climate emergency’ increased dramatically.

Fun fact: the term “climate change” was first used in 1854 when a US magazine article questioned whether human actions could alter the climate.

And the rest is history. It’s not a question anymore; it’s a fact.

November: A payment card for the environmentally conscious - Merit Pay

Single.Earth announced that it’s working on a solution for making a positive climate impact with every transaction by financing nature protection.

Merit Pay:

🌿 100% nature backed

🌿 Each purchase with Merit Pay directly finances land protection

🌿 Pay anywhere: shops, cafes, and other sellers around the world could effortlessly accept the card

December: Illegal timber schemes shut down in Amazon

Hundreds of companies have covered up illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest. They’ve now been exposed by Brazilian environmental agents.

This is a rare glimpse into how illegally-cut Amazon wood is inserted into the legal timber supply chain.

More than 220 companies and 21 logging concessions were involved in the schemes, which means this is a huge win for the protection of the Amazon forest.

Because the Amazon forest has so much impact on the environment of the whole world, stopping these schemes is a win for literally every person on Earth.


Author note about the “Future of Climate Change” series: The climate crisis has become an inevitable part of our everyday lives, making it easy to get lost in Doomsday thoughts. In reality, attempts to halt climate change are happening all the time. The key is to notice them. That's what this series is about. Will you come back next month to read the new one?

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