Let’s begin 2018 by looking back at what went right for the environment in 2017.
Bye bye, diesel
Countries such as India, France, and the United Kingdom have pledged to move away from gas and diesel cars in favor of less-polluting options, such as electric vehicles. Even China, the world’s largest car market, is developing a plan to ban the production and sale of vehicles that rely purely on fossil fuels. 2018 could be an important year in the shift toward cleaner transportation.
Hope for bees
Bees are among the world’s greatest pollinators and help plants to reproduce. They play a vital role for the Earth’s ecosystem — but they’re struggling to survive. Insecticides called neonicotinoids have been identified as a major threat, but the European Commission has proposed a complete ban of three of the most harmful neonicotinoids. There is still much work to do, but it’s a first step.
A decarbonized future
The move to phase out coal has been at the forefront of environmental protests this year in countries that still largely rely on the fuel, like Germany. Several EU members have pledged to eliminate the use of coal for power by 2030 at the latest. All of the EU national energy companies — except for Poland and Greece — have agreed that no new coal-fired plants will be built in the EU after 2020.
In 2017, more than 200 countries promised to join their efforts to end marine plastic pollution, one of the world’s biggest environmental problems. UN member states have pledged to take action to prevent the spread of marine litter and microplastics. At the same time, the EU has agreed on stricter regulations regarding e-waste and planned obsolescence.
Millions of people are making positive changes in their daily lives that never make the headlines. These small actions lead to bigger ones — and can lead to significant progress. A few examples: on Fiji’s Mamanuca Islands, a coral growing project is improving the health of coral reefs, while conservation groups in Niger are pushing to establish a protected area for endangered giraffes.
Optimism for our planet
The first Conservation Optimism Summit, held in the UK in April, celebrated success stories. Participants were reminded, for instance, that lynxes are successfully being reintroduced in Central Europe, or that the tiger population has increased in India for the first time in a century. Faced with global challenges, the summit’s goal is to “create a positive vision for the future.”