Go you good things! Aussies install solar panels at record rate; plus 3 other stories to make you smile – including comedy animals

Earth News|Collected: Your weekly round-up of positive news for the planet

UK announces support for new global agreement to tackle the plastic pollution crisis

After seeming to drag its heels on the matter earlier in the week, Britain has now confirmed its support for a new global agreement to tackle the plastic pollution crisis.

More than two-thirds of UN member states had already declared being open to the option of a new agreement, following a virtual UN working group on marine litter and microplastics, held earlier this month. Now Britain, the second biggest per capita producer of plastic waste, has announced it could play a leading role in tackling the crisis.

Speaking via Zoom at a virtual World Trade Organisation event, hosted by the UK in collaboration with the Global Plastic Action Partnership, Lord Goldsmith, Minister of State (Minister for Pacific and the Environment), said:

“Plastic in the ocean is set to treble by 2025. The challenge we face is immense and urgent. We believe it’s time to negotiate a new global agreement to coordinate action on marine plastic litter and microplastic, one that goes far beyond the existing frameworks. With two-thirds of UN member states already on board we have a chance now to create an unstoppable momentum to tackle plastic pollution in a way that the Paris agreement has done for climate change and the Montreal protocol has done for ozone depletion. I hope many, many other nations will join us as well.”

Source/read more at The Guardian.

Go you good things! Aussies are installing rooftop solar panels at a record rate

Despite the PM’s love-affair with coal, Australia is on track to add a record 2.9 gigawatts of small-scale solar capacity in 2020, with modelling suggesting that installations may double over the next four years.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, holds a lump of coal in parliament . Source: greenleft.org
Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, holds a lump of coal in parliament . Source: greenleft.org

With around 29% of households already drawing power from the sun and challenging daytime demand for traditional electricity models, such as coal, Australia is already among the world’s strongest adopters of rooftop panels.

“Australian families and businesses are adopting new energy technologies like rooftop solar at record-breaking rates, and we expect this trend will continue for the foreseeable future,” Energy Minister Angus Taylor said in a media release.

According to the Clean Energy Regulator’s latest quarterly report, investment in large scale renewable energy and rooftop solar has not been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and corresponding lockdowns – something the regulator’s general manager, Mark Williams, put down to the increased return on investment of rooftop solar, particularly when working from home and using more power.

Investment in large-scale renewables has also been resilient during the pandemic, with 2.5 gigawatts worth of new projects financed in the first nine months of the year, almost 9% more than in the whole of 2019. The regulator noted a trend toward ever-larger developments, with three projects of more than 500 megawatts winning first stage approval.

Sources/read more at Sydney Morning Herald, BNN Bloomberg.

Restoring degraded grasslands can mitigate the impacts of climate change, new study finds

A team of Kenyan and Swiss scientists investigating how grasslands are affected by restoration, has found the process can mitigate the impacts of climate change, replenish soil organic carbon and increase biodiversity.

The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that the degradation of grasslands in Baringo County, Kenya, led to the loss of approximately 40 per cent of soil organic carbon, significantly contributing to the release of greenhouse gasses. However, three decades of grassland restoration has replenished soil organic carbon to a depth of one metre, at a rate of 1.4 per cent.

Grasslands make up 40 per cent of the Earth’s natural vegetation and contain a substantial amount of the world’s soil organic carbon. They support the livelihoods of over one billion people worldwide and are home to a large variety of plants and animals. Despite this, they are under threat from degradation, development and invasive species.

Ms.Purity Rima Mbaabu, the report’s lead author, who is affiliated to Kenya Forestry Research Institute, Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation of University of Nairobi and Chuka University, said:

“The importance of managing grasslands to optimise carbon sequestration for climate change mitigation is widely recognised. Soils are the largest terrestrial carbon reservoir containing more carbon than the vegetation and the atmosphere combined. Yet, soil organic carbon, which makes up about two thirds of global soil carbon, is sensitive to land degradation with significant negative consequences for soil quality and productivity and an exacerbation of greenhouse gas emissions.”

Sources/read more at Phys.org, Earth.com.

And finally, please enjoy the winners of the 2020 Comedy Pet Photo Awards, in support of the Blue Cross

Ok, it’s not really positive news for the planet… but, it is Friday. And it is animals… comedy animals. And you deserve the smiles. Here are some of our favourite fluffer faces from the competition. You can see the rest here. You’re welcome. Have a lovely weekend!

A golden retriever looks longingly into a jar of cooking. This is Bear, taken by Candice Sedighan for the Comedy Pet Photo Awards
‘Bear’ by Candice Sedighan. Credit: Comedy Pet Photo Awards
A cat hangs off a wooden fence, looking inquisitively at the camera. This is Basil taken by Gosia Russell for the Comedy Pet Photo Awards
‘Basil’ by Gosia Russell. Credit: Comedy Pet Photo Awards
A dog looks like he is smiling. This is 'Noodles' by Elke Vogelsang for the Comedy Pet Photo Awards
‘Noodles’ by Elke Vogelsang. Credit: Comedy Pet Photo Awards

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Charli Ferrand Higgins

After a decade working for global and boutique PR and Marketing agencies in Sydney, with clients that included some of the biggest consumer brands in the world, Charli returned to her homeland of the UK in 2017 and decided the time had come to use her professional skills and experience for good. She has since split her time between supporting passionate, purpose-driven small and medium-sized businesses to grow through conscious content marketing, managing and editing the planet-positive content hub Earth Collective (weareearthcollective.com), and hosting the podcast Easy Being Green? Lessons in sustainable business for SMEs.

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