An Earth Prize for Youth and Forests Bounce Back – Top 5 Happy Eco News – 2021-06-21

Thanks for reading the Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5 newsletter! This week we have a blog post from Rachel Womack who tells us about the Earth Prize – a global sustainability competition for youth to be involved in projects that are eco-centered. We also have stories about the sizable growth of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, a new UK law recognizing animals as sentient beings, the growth of the renewable energy industry, the economic opportunity for clean energy jobs in the US, and the United States’ first offshore wind farm.

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The Earth Prize – A Global Sustainability Competition for Youths

Guest post by: Rachel Womack from the Education World Forum

Lesein Mutunkei had a simple idea that turned into a nation-wide movement. Now he wants other young people to join the fight for the environment as part of The Earth Prize; a global sustainability competition for 13- to 19-year-olds with $200,000 in prize money. 

Lesein’s activism story started in 2017 after he heard Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Wangari Maathai’s Story of the Hummingbird; a tale of how even a small creature can create change. Concerned about the impact of severe deforestation in Kenya, Lesein made a commitment to himself; for each goal he scored for his school’s football team, he would plant a tree.

He soon found that he was scoring more goals than usual, and his teammates noticed too. He told them what he was doing and, inspired, they joined in. A short time later, the Trees4Goals initiative had spread nationwide, and over 1000 trees had been planted by Lesein and over 5000 other young people across Kenya.

“I thought to myself, we will have to solve this problem. It’s my generation and the children younger than me that will see the worst effects of climate change, and we need to take action… [read more].

The Happy Eco News Weekly Top 5

  1. Forests as big as France have grown back since 2000, research shows

The study found the Atlantic Forest in Brazil regained an estimated 4.2 million hectares — an area roughly the size of the Netherlands — since 2000, something it described as a success story. From Mongolia to southern Brazil, forests big enough to cover France have grown back during the last 20 years, but the gains did not make up for losses elsewhere, a report showed on Tuesday. An analysis of satellite data by a team of researchers led by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) revealed that almost 59 million hectares (146 million acres) of forests have regenerated since 2000. That much forest has the potential to absorb 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) — more than the annual emissions of the United States, according to the study. “The data show the enormous potential of natural habitats to recover when given the chance to do so,” said John Lotspeich, executive director of Trillion Trees, the coalition of environmental groups behind the study. “But … [read more].

  1. Animals to be formally recognised as sentient beings in UK law

Animals are to be formally recognised as sentient beings in UK law for the first time, in a victory for animal welfare campaigners, as the government set out a suite of animal welfare measures including halting most live animal exports and banning the import of hunting trophies. The reforms will be introduced through a series of bills, including an animal sentience bill, and will cover farm animals and pets in the UK, and include protections for animals abroad, through bans on ivory and shark fins, and a potential ban on foie gras. Some of the measures – including microchipping cats and stopping people keeping primates as pets – have been several years in preparation, and others – such as the restriction of live animal exports – have been the subject of decades-long campaigns. George Eustice, the environment secretary, said: “We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws. Our action plan for animal welfare will deliver on our manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibit keeping primates as pets, and bring in new laws to tackle puppy… [read more].

  1. Global renewable energy industry grew at fastest rate since 1999 last year

The world’s renewable energy industry grew at its fastest pace since 1999 last year, despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and may have established a standard for growth in the future, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The global energy watchdog revealed that the delivery of renewable energy projects, including windfarms and solar power projects, grew by 45% last year in a step change for the global industry. Wind power capacity doubled over the last year, while solar power grew by almost 50% more than its growth before the pandemic, due to the growing appetite for clean energy from governments and corporations. The clean energy boom has prompted the IEA to revise its renewable energy forecasts for the coming years up by about 25% from its previous growth estimates due to the faster than expected expansion of renewables in China, Europe and the US. Fatih Birol, the executive director of the IEA, said governments need to “build on this promising momentum” by putting in place policies that “encourage greater investment in solar and wind, in the additional grid infrastructure they will require, and in other key renewable technologies such as hydropower, bioenergy and geothermal”. “A … [read more].

  1. This is where U.S. clean energy jobs can make the biggest difference

Green energy could provide a boost for America’s rural communities. Clean energy is a growing economic source for rural communities across the U.S. The sector has employed around 360,000 workers in rural counties as of 2019, accounting for up to 10% of total employment in some counties. Rural areas represent 86% of persistent poverty counties in the U.S. Creating clean energy jobs in these areas provides an opportune solution to combat poverty and deliver a U.S. green recovery after the pandemic. Clean energy is a growing economic engine for rural communities across the United States. The sector—which includes jobs in renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, advanced electric grid development, clean fuels and clean vehicles —employed approximately 360,000 workers in rural counties as of 2019, accounting for as much as 10% of total employment or more in some counties. The sector has also experienced rapid growth in recent years, and with federal investment, can deliver greater benefits still despite industry losses weathered during the coronavirus pandemic. In many regions, clean energy jobs are diversifying the rural economy and helping to transform areas that may otherwise struggle to attract jobs and investments or have been facing years of economic stagnation. With… [read more].

  1. First large-scale US offshore wind farm receives federal approval

United States President Joe Biden’s administration announced final federal approval for an ambitious, first of its kind offshore wind energy project on Tuesday that would create enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. The 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project, south of Martha’s Vineyard near Cape Cod, Massachusetts, would be the first utility-scale wind power development in federal waters. The nearly $3bn project is a critical part of the Biden administration’s plan to develop renewable energy in the US. The federal approval allows Vineyard Wind to install 84 or fewer turbines off the Massachusetts coast. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said the approval of the largescale renewable energy project will create thousands of jobs and is a step towards Biden’s plan for 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. “A clean energy future is within our grasp in the United States. The approval of this project is an important step toward advancing the Administration’s goals to create good-paying union jobs while combatting climate change and powering our nation,” Haaland said in a… [read more].

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