With more frequent and extreme weather events, melting glaciers, and rising sea levels, there is no question that the climate crisis is here now and the impacts are felt by humans and nature alike. But there is good news: every day we see more individuals, organizations, businesses, and governments responding to the crisis. People are coming together to take concrete steps to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change.

As the decade winds down, we are shedding some light on the good news to give us all hope to keep fighting this state of emergency.

More people care about climate change 

Reports show that climate change has been one of the main topics of election issues in many countries this year like Canada and the UK. According to YouGov, in the lead up to the 2017 general election, only 8% of the British public considered the environment one of the top three important issues. Crucially, the environment is now tied with the economy as Britain’s fourth most important issue, with 25% of Brits placing it in one of their top three. 

The last white rhino died but there is some hope

The world’s oldest captive white rhino, South African-born Sana, died at the age of 55. No other northern white rhinos are left in the wild. However, in September, conservationists created two northern white rhino embryos from the two last females and sperm from deceased males to one day implant into a surrogate mother in the hope of reviving the line.

Sales of single-use bags by big supermarkets fell 90% since the 5p charge introduced in England

The average consumer in England now buys just 10 bags a year from the main supermarket retailers, according to the new data from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), down from 140 bags in 2014 before the charge came into force.

India planted over 200 million trees in one day

In just one day, more than a million people in India planted 220 million trees. It’s all thanks to a government campaign to combat climate change and improve the environment. The saplings were all planted in northern Uttar Pradesh, which has a population of more than 200 million people.

Forest official Bivhas Ranjan said students, lawmakers, officials and other residents planted dozens of species of saplings along roads, railroad tracks and in forests. The goals are to increase forest cover and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. 

Italy made learning about climate change in school mandatory

The lessons will take up to 33 hours a year, nearly an hour a week of courses that incorporate climate change, sustainability, and environmental footprints. Educators will take different age-appropriate approaches to teach students about the threats of climate change. The lessons might come in the form of fairy-tale-like stories that illustrate the role of the environment for the younger elementary school students, while older students will study areas like the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The country is the first to make climate change a mandatory part of the education system.

More than 60 countries say they’ll zero out carbon emissions by 2050

Britain is among the few that have codified the net-zero goal into law. Chile is working on a law that would make its net-zero goal mandatory. Finland has said it will aim for carbon neutrality by 2035, while Norway is aiming for neutrality by 2030. 

New Zealand recently committed to the pledge. The bill passed in parliament with historic cross-party support. The bill commits the country to new climate change laws and to reduce its carbon emission to zero by 2050 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement.

The population of humpback whales is on the rise

A new study has revealed that a key population of humpback whales are in recovery after falling victim to commercial hunting – known as whaling – during the 20th century. The South Atlantic humpbacks once totalled around 27,000 but were diminished to just a few hundred by the 1950s. However, a study published by Royal Society disclosed that the number of humpbacks has reached 25,000, achieving 93% of their pre-exploitation levels.

Researchers turned plastic water bottles into prosthetic limbs

An expert at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) successfully manufactured the first-of-its-kind prosthetic limb socket made from recycled plastic bottles. The cost of producing a prosthetic socket this way is just £10, compared to the current industry average of around £5,000 each.

Dr Kandan, who is also associate director of the Institute of Engineering Sciences at DMU, said this breakthrough could address the gap between high-performance prosthesis that cost thousands of pounds and affordable prostheses that lack quality and durability – as well as helping to solve the problem of plastic pollution.

A gigantic ocean cleanup device is taking on the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’

Dutch non-profit The Ocean Cleanup launched the Interceptor, an autonomous system for collecting plastic pollution from rivers before it reaches the sea. The 600m-long device has managed to successfully capture larger pieces of debris and small microplastics for the first time.

The garbage patch, discovered in 1997, is a growing cluster of human waste and pollution three times the size of France. It’s one of several patches out in the ocean causing significant harm to marine life as it continues to grow. The Ocean Cleanup Foundation said: ‘We project 50 tons of plastic to be extracted per year.’

The kids are in on it

On Sept. 22, 2019, an estimated 6 million people around the world joined the global climate strike making it likely the largest climate rally ever. While the protests were led by younger people, the event brought together individuals of every age, every walk of life, across cultures, and even party lines. It showed that everyone has a voice in our efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

Zahra Khozema