The Future of Climate Change: 5 Highlights in August 2021

Climate Change
August 12, 2021
Avely Pütsep

“Future of Climate Change” is a monthly series: we choose 5 beautiful things that shaped the future of climate action and ecosystem protection in the past month.

If it makes the world a better place, we want to talk about it.

News on halting biodiversity loss, reducing carbon footprints, becoming carbon neutral, cleantech innovations, climate change solutions, and everything in between. 🌿

Plus, there’s SO MUCH GOOD happening (you just have to notice it!), we just had to include a Biodiversity & Sustainability Bonus at the end.

Let’s get started!

IPCC came out with the sixth edition of the yearly climate report

IPCC came out with the sixth edition of the yearly climate report

Starting strong.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sixth edition didn’t hold back on how serious the situation is. For the whole world.

The IPCC climate change report has many names already: CNN said it was “the final warning”, the BBC called it “code red for humanity”, and The Atlantic just bluntly billed it “a catastrophe”.

However, it’s not all completely hopeless. Scientists are more optimistic than before that global warming can still stay within the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature rise from prehistoric times.

The climate change worst-case scenario is just that and not a prediction of what will happen. With carbon sequestration and efforts to halt habitat loss, we have the potential to drastically reduce our carbon emissions.

It is now more important than ever to make a joint effort to halt rapid climate change. (P.S. Single.Earth is hiring to save the natural world!)

Read our quick but thorough overview: “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Climate Change Update From IPCC”.

Rewilding: large-scale nature restoration project announced for England

Many parts of the UK are losing, or have already lost, a great deal of the natural richness they used to have. They’ve lost species and are now working hard to get them back into nature.

Hence why this rewilding news is so amazing: a large-scale nature restoration project was announced for England that promises an ‘alternative future’ for the UK’s uplands.

Red squirrels will be among the first to benefit from it.

The project is called Wild Ingleborough and its goal is to restore peatlands and woodlands, both of which act as vital carbon sinks. Many trees will be planted, but most of the woodland will be restored by “passive rewilding”: a method that simply gives nature space to reclaim ecosystems.

Just some perks of the project:

  • Carbon capture to reduce CO2 levels
  • Boosting biodiversity
  • Could prevent flooding
  • Likely to amplify tourism potential

Exciting rewilding times ahead!

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

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

After years of conservation efforts, giant pandas in China are no longer an endangered species.

Their status was updated to “vulnerable”!

All the devotion to helping pandas has paid off:

  • There are now 1800 giant pandas living in the wild
  • Nature reserves and other conservation initiatives are better maintained

As a result, other species are doing much better, too: there’s a rise in population numbers among Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, and others - just a few of the amazing animals saved from extinction!

The giant panda status has been “vulnerable” internationally for 5 years already - why didn’t China have it already?

"If we downgrade their conservation status, or neglect or relax our conservation work, the populations and habitats of giant pandas could still suffer irreversible loss and our achievements would be quickly lost," China's State Forestry Administration told The Associated Press at the time. "Therefore, we're not being alarmist by continuing to emphasize the panda species' endangered status."

But the fact China has now joined in provides hope for a better future with more pandas safe in the wild.

Greenland suspends oil exploration because of the climate crisis

Greenland could be sitting on vast amounts of oil.

But the Greenland Government has decided to suspend all oil exploration.

"The future does not lie in oil. The future belongs to renewable energy, and in that respect, we have much more to gain," the Greenland government said in a statement.

Very good news for nature and those adamant to halt the rapid climate change brought about by humans.

The decision was made on June 24 already but made public in mid-July.

The US Geological Survey estimates there could be crazy amounts of undiscovered barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas but the island's remote location and harsh weather have limited exploration.

It seems that - at least for now - Greenland’s nature is safe from oil exploration. 🌿🌲

Greenland suspends oil exploration because of climate change

Canada officially declares plastic as toxic

The new declaration paves way for plastic restrictions.

Plastic is now considered toxic under Canada’s primary environmental law: the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA).

The decision, which comes despite months of lobbying by Canada’s $28 billion plastics industry, pushes for a proposed ban on some single-use items.

About 3.3 million metric tons of plastic are discarded in Canada each year, and less than 10%(about 305,000 metric tons) are recycled. The remainder goes to landfills, incineration, or leaks into rivers, lakes, and oceans, according to a 2019 study commissioned by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC).

Go on, Canada!

Biodiversity Bonus

  • A rare ‘magic rabbit’ spotted for the first time in 20 years. However, it’s in danger as species number declined by almost 70% since the early 80s, with less than 1,000 individuals left in the wild. 
  • Leicester, UK, is turning all of its bus stop roofs into pollinator gardens for bees.
  • The Finnish Reindeer Herders Association is trying to protect reindeers with an innovative idea: covering reindeer antlers with reflective paint to prevent car accidents. It’s hoped this will save some of the 4,000 who die yearly in car accidents.
  • A shark in Greenland who has been around a whopping 512 years may be the oldest vertebrate on Earth.
  • Biden Administration moves to restore protections for endangered wildlife that were loosened under former President Trump.
  • New South Wales buys 60,000 hectares of land which makes it an Outback Nature Reserve with at least 14 endangered species.
A rare ‘magic rabbit’ spotted for the first time in 20 years

Picture from

Sustainability Bonus

  • Steve Wozniak backs the right-to-repair movement. He supports it even though it affects the products of a company he helped to build: Apple. The movement means technology must last a decade and was voted for European Parliament in March 2021. 
  • Right to repair came into effect in the UK on the 8th of July (although it’s already received backlash and needs improvements).
  • Maine becomes the first US state to divest from fossil fuels.
  • Facebook joins European Climate Pact and pledges action to build a greener Europe.
  • New Zealand will ban single-use plastic by 2025. It builds on the 2019 decision to phase out plastic bags and includes everything from disposable cutlery to earbuds and fruit labels.
  • Colorado cuts plastic bags and Styrofoam usage by applying fees for single-use plastic and banning styrofoam.
  • A giant new offshore wind project is set to power 10 million US homes and if everything goes according to the plan, thousands of offshore wind turbines will be built by 2030.

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?

Oh also, did you see the 5 climate change highlights from June?

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