LINKS OF THE WEEK: Nov 30, 2023
Transmission grids, ocean energy, car-restricted cities, doughnut economics (yum) – and EV batteries made from old tires??
Hello, awesomeness! Here are some of the most interesting stories I’ve read recently about the latest developments in sustainability and the green-energy transition.
We’ve got some fun stuff about transmission grids, EV batteries made from used tires (say what??), successful “people first” green transportation initiatives, ocean energy, and doughnut economics, which is ss sweet as it sounds – but not in the way you might think 😁🍩.
Let’s start things off with a local story about a British Columbia First Nation that recently declared a huge protected area on BC’s remote coast. A huge YES to protecting our local watersheds and reversing biodiversity loss!
The Ḵwiḵwa̱sut'inux̱w Ha̱xwa’mis First Nation has declared 41,000 hectares of British Columbia’s remote mid-coast region to be an Indigenous Protected and Conserved Area (IPCA). According to this Narwhal article, the declaration invoked the nation’s inherent rights to protect its traditional territory “from mountaintop to seafloor” and said the nation’s stewardship will “focus on culture and language, protecting habitat and archaeological resources, food security and generating a sustainable economy.”
Yes! I love this so much – especially the plans the Ḵwiḵwa̱sut'inux̱w Ha̱xwa’mis First Nation have for protecting watersheds, building back salmon stocks, monitoring development, and reversing biodiversity loss.
TransitionZero has just published a detailed report that claims building out transmission grids could save $3 trillion in the global transition to a green energy future. The report calls transmission grids "net-zero lifelines" and points out that many countries could leverage their "vast wind and solar resources" to become net exporters of energy to other countries.
I like what the report says about creating “corridors of clean energy flow” and the regional maps showing where these corridors could be developed.
I also appreciated this Foreign Policy article that talks about how the green transition will mean LESS mining, not more. Though I wouldn't call the argument that renewables require an unacceptable amount of mining an "emerging narrative" – seems like people have been making that claim for years now.
The International Energy Agency has released a new roadmap outlining a comprehensive strategy to drive the development of 300 GW of ocean energy by 2050 – creating 680,000 jobs, contributing $340 billion to the global economy and preventing over 500 million tonnes of carbon emissions in the process. As someone who lives in a coastal community, I say this with my whole chest: good news if true!
Climate Action Network International has created a new renewable energy transition tracker that rates countries according to their progress toward 100% renewable energy. The list held some surprises for me but I wasn’t even remotely shocked to see that Canada is one of the five G20 countries ranked as a “trailer” or “slow-starter.” We’re going to be playing catch-up for a while, I’m guessing... 🤷♀️
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation has just released a study on reusable packaging and how “unlocking a reuse revolution” could drastically reduce waste and greenhouse emissions from plastic by up to 69% – AND use up to 70% less water. Yes, please!
Here’s a great interview with Hoboken mayor Ravi Bhalla who has spearheaded the city’s “Vision Zero” plan to end traffic deaths and injuries in the city by 2030. Since he became mayor in 2017 the city has introduced bicycle fleets, lowered driving speeds, and made incremental changes to infrastructure to make it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to get around. The result is zero pedestrian fatalities and a 41% drop in injuries over six years. Impressive!
On the topic of making cities safer for people…
Ponteverde is a city of 84,000 that launched a “Fewer cars, more city” campaign to improve quality of life that’s still going strong 24 years later. The city removed on-street parking, limited car access in different areas of the city, and widened sidewalks to prioritize pedestrians over cars – and according to this Fast Company article, car trips have fallen 97% since 1999 in Ponteverde’s historic city center and 53% across the entire city. Sweet!
Love this NY Times opinion piece from environmental scientist Kate Marvel, who was a lead author on the Fifth National Climate Assessment, which was released last week. Despite the dire warnings and reasons to despair, she was surprised to also find that genuine progress has been made. “For the first time in my career,” she writes, “I felt something strange: optimism.”
Finally, for anyone who enjoys geeking out over Doughnut Economics initiatives, I saw a couple of interesting stories recently about what the city of Glasgow in Scotland is doing to become more circular and sustainable. Check out their Thriving Glasgow Doughnut initiative and be sure to download the report outlining everything the city is doing to become a “Green Wellbeing Economy” (love this term) and achieve net-zero by 2030. I also appreciated this article on the myths and misconceptions around doughnut economics.
That’s it for this week – keep on being awesome and stay tuned for more interesting stories in the days to come!