News about the escalating climate crisis can feel overwhelming, making it hard to spot the incredible progress that has been made to protect the planet, work towards a greener, fairer future for all, and restore our world’s wild spaces.

In this article, we share some good climate news from 2023 – including technological advancements, animal species rebounding and successful international co-operation.

Deforestation in Brazil is at a six year low

The Amazon rainforest is crucial to the planet’s fight against climate change. Back in office for less than a year, Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has managed to reduce deforestation to a six year low. In fact, rates were down by 66% in August 2023 (the start of the logging season) compared with the same month in 2022.

Lula da Silva became president of Brazil again in January 2023, defeating far right Bolsonaro. He pledges to end deforestation by 2030, protecting the Amazon’s ability to act as a carbon sink, not a carbon source.

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The rapid growth of renewable energy keeps the goal of 1.5 degrees alive

According to the IEA, the rapid growth of renewable energy capacity could keep the world’s chances of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees alive. There has been a record amount of new renewable energy capacity installed this year – adding a huge 440 GW of global power capacity.

For context, the UK’s peak winter demand, when we all have our lights, ovens and devices on, is about 48GW.  

As well as limiting global warming, harnessing nature is the cheapest way to generate power, and it increases energy security too.

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Climate lawsuits are helping to fight climate change

Around the world, people are taking governments and corporations to court due to their lack of action on fighting climate change.

The first climate lawsuit was raised in 2015. Now, there are more than 2,500 such lawsuits worldwide – forcing a welcome shift in policies to better protect the environment and causing fossil fuel share prices to drop.

Some of the most successful climate lawsuits include:

  • Dutch environmental organisation Milieudefensie taking fossil fuel giant, Shell, to court demanding them to cut their carbon emissions by 45%.
  • The Good Law project taking our government to court over its inadequate net zero strategy
  • A group of 16 campaigners taking the state of Montana to court over it violating their rights to a “clean and healthful environment.”

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An abandoned coal mine provides a renewable heating source

Since March 2023, the water that’s flooded an abandoned coal mine has been used as a renewable heat source in north-eastern town, Gateshead.

Warmed by natural geothermal processes, and then passed through heat pumps to raise its temperature further, this renewable energy source now provides heating for over 350 homes and businesses in the town. 

25% of UK homes and businesses are situated above old coal mines. Creating renewable heat networks is an exciting opportunity that could be replicated across the country – fighting climate change and creating jobs in areas previously disadvantaged by mine closures.

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Glastonbury festival shows that event transport can be low carbon

Glastonbury Festival has around 200,000 visitors each year – that’s about the same as the population of Bristol. And for a festival first, tens of thousands of revellers travelled to 2023’s event via the UK’s first electric shuttle bus service.

A partnership between EV company Zenobe and National Express, the zero-emission shuttle service between Bristol and Glastonbury saved around 350kg of emissions for each journey compared to diesel alternatives.

This is a great example to other festivals and events that travel doesn’t need to come with a huge carbon footprint.  

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Humpback whales are making an impressive comeback

Humpback whales were hunted to near extinction for their blubber. Now, they are making an impressive comeback, with sightings in the northwest Pacific increasing every year since 2011.

Commercial whaling has been banned internationally since the 1980s, and many still get entangled in commercial fishing nets to this day. With humpback whales only producing one calf every two to three years, it has taken a long time for numbers to recover.

In the 1990s and 2000s, there were less than 50 humpback whales spotted in the northwest Pacific every year – now there are more than 800.

As well as this being brilliant news for marine eco-systems, it is also good news for the climate. During each great whale’s lifetime, they are thought to sequester the same amount of carbon as 30,000 trees.

This is because their faeces acts as a rich fertiliser, boosting phytoplankton and drawing carbon from the atmosphere.

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World leaders have agreed to transition away from fossil fuels for the first time

Leaders from nearly 200 countries have agreed to transition away from fossil fuels at COP28 – a historic first for the international climate change conference. A pledge to triple renewable energy capacity by 2030 has also been made.

There are still lots of grey areas. There’s been no mention of finance to support developing countries to move away from fossil fuels. Loopholes in the system remain. And there are no ambitious target dates to force developed countries to move as quickly as our planet needs.

But we think this historic deal should be celebrated as a big step forward. A transition away from fossil fuels has been agreed, worldwide, for the first time – something that will undoubtedly trigger positive changes around the world.

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Have any other climate news stories from 2023 made you feel hopeful?
Let us know and we can share them next time.