Positive change is coming (it’s really here already).
When the biggest investment companies in the world start removing fossil fuels from their list of acceptable investments, you know there is big change on the horizon.
The European Investment Bank recently announced it would be shifting away from funding of fossil fuel based projects as investments. Highly risk averse, these large institutional investors simply see the writing on the wall: the ongoing use of fossil fuel is coming to an end. Smart money is looking at clean energy as the new path forward to the large profits traditionally associated with fossil fuel projects. With production costs at increasing rates, they fear weak markets, increasingly stringent regulation on emissions and the subsequent very real potential for stranded assets like pipelines and other infrastructure.
“The Bank will phase out support to energy projects reliant on fossil fuels: oil and gas production, infrastructure primarily dedicated to natural gas, power generation or heat based on fossil fuels. These types of projects will not be presented for approval to the EIB Board beyond the end of 2020.” Said the EIB.
This truly comes as no surprise to me; having worked in the clean energy sector for a decade, I have seen capital cost of solar, wind and energy storage plummet while efficiency increases at a rapid rate, further boosting returns. These industries are comparatively unsubsidized, which requires the installed systems to produce better ROI (in order to justify their existence). On the other hand, oil, gas and coal are ever more costly to produce, and even with government subsidies at record high levels, still lose out to their renewable counterparts in sheer economics.
The list of organizations that have cut ties with fossil fuels includes some of the largest and most influential. Religious institutions; philanthropic foundations and colleges and universities from around the world have all pledged to divest. Dozens Catholic institutions have already divested; now a campaign is urging the Vatican bank itself to follow suit. The list includes the Nobel Foundation, the world’s great art museums, and virtually every institution that works for a better world.
This makes me believe that we are well under way for some really strong, positive changes.
In other top happy eco news stories, 3M has developed a new packaging method they say will reduce the size and weight of shipped parcels to increase the efficiency of the mail order sector, United States space agency NASA has published a list of indoor plants to help purify the air of your home, an online store start-up is looking for funding to create a completely plastic free product line (packaging is completely biodegradable), and a study of the world’s smart cities finds they are in fact smart, but look nothing like we might have expected.
Getting things delivered has never been more convenient. With just a few clicks, you can have a new bottle of shampoo sitting outside your door the next day, or that cool T-shirt you’ve been eyeing on Etsy. But when those items arrive at your door, there’s a good chance they’ll be in a too-big box, stuffed with lots of wasteful packaging filler. That’s why the Minnesota-based materials company 3M is releasing a new type of packaging that requires no tape and no filler, and it can be customized to fit any object under 3 pounds—which 3M says accounts for about 60% of all items that are bought online and shipped. 3M claims that the material, called the Flex & Seal Shipping Roll , can reduce time spent packing, the amount of packaging materials, and the space needed to ship packages. [Image: 3M] The roll is made out of three layers of different plastics that 3M developed, including a gray, internal adhesive layer that sticks to itself (you’ll see why in a moment). There’s also a middle cushioning layer that seems similar to bubble wrap to protect items during shipping, and a tougher outside layer that is tear- and water-resistant.
One of the biggest good news stories of recent days, which went largely under the radar, was an announcement on Friday by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to ditch the funding of fossil infrastructure projects by the end of next year. As heat records are broken across the continent, and alarm bells are rung by EU scientists about the dangers of the climate emergency, one might think this move could have already been done, especially considering the mission of the EIB is “to make a difference to the future of Europe and its partners by supporting sound investments which further EU policy goals”. But let’s not quibble—this is to be welcomed. In December 2018, the bank had launched a public consultation on its energy lending policy, days after announcing, alongside the other multilateral development banks, that they intended to make their investment portfolios consistent with the 1.5ºC climate target enshrined in the Paris Agreement. Friday was the big day that the results of the consultation and the Bank’s draft energy lending policy were published.
We spend most of our free time in our homes, and having high-quality air and clean living space is a must. The world is too polluted for you do expect miracles, but NASA has provided a list of indoor air-purifiers. We bet you already have these at home. Toxins enter your body through air, water, cosmetics and food. Constant exposure to toxins may result in serious health conditions. Do you know that the US has approved the use of eighty-four thousand chemicals? In 2011, chemicals provided about $763 billion in revenue. Manufacturers get $8 billion from the production of BPA. Things get worse in winter months. We’re stuck at home, and the air doesn’t circulate. Let’s not forget all the cleaning products we use to keep our home clean. Well, these chemicals end up in your body. That’s why you should keep a few air-purifying plants in your home. Here are some suggestions: Azaleas Azaleas filter air in kitchens which makes them a good option for those who use toxic detergents. English Ivy (Hedera Helix) Plant your English Ivy, because it’s invasive and may choke your plants. It removes airborne fecal-matter particles and cigarette smoke.
When an order shows up at your door from the new online grocery service Rise Mrkt, you won’t end up with any trash: All of the food comes in compostable packages. The startup, which says it will launch the service in early 2020 if a current crowdfunding campaign succeeds, wanted to eliminate plastic. “I think it’s the brand’s responsibility to worry about the life cycle of the packaging, and to actually be in charge of that and take responsibility for it,” says founder Jordyn Gatti. That meant not only shipping food in compostable pouches but helping consumers take the final step to compost the packaging; if someone lives in a city that doesn’t offer composting, and if they also don’t have the ability to compost in their backyard, the company will pay to send the pouches to the closest facility. “We just send you a prepaid label, and all you have to do is take one of the pouches, open it up, stuff the other ones inside, and attach this prepaid label. . . . If you can return an Amazon package, you can compost,” he says.
An abandoned mine shaft beneath the town of Mansfield, England, is an unlikely place to shape the future of cities. But here, researchers from the nearby University of Nottingham are planning to launch a “ deep farm ” that could produce 10 times as much food as farms aboveground. Deep farms are an example of what the latest wave of smart cities looks like: putting people first by focusing on solving urban problems and improving existing infrastructure, rather than opening shiny new buildings. These smart cities look nothing like science fiction. In fact, the sleek, futuristic visions often used to promote smart cities tend to alienate residents . Isolated high-tech buildings, streets, or cities can foster social inequality , and even free WiFi and bike-sharing schemes mainly benefit the affluent . So, instead of chasing ribbon-cutting opportunities in city centers, planners, community leaders, and researchers are coming together to tackle mundane but serious issues, such as improving poor-quality housing, safeguarding local food supplies, and transitioning to renewable energy.