Meet the inaugural Earthshot Prize winners; Morrison government held to account by young Australians and island communities

Your latest round-up of planet-positive news

Five young Aussies lodge human rights complaints with the UN over the Morrison government’s inaction on climate

It is the youngest generations that will arguably be the most effected by inaction on climate change. Now, five Australians, aged between 14-24 years old, are asking for an explanation from the Australian government on how its alleged current inaction on climate change is consistent with its human rights obligations to young people.

Represented by lawyers from Environmental Justice Australia, the group has lodged three human rights complaints with the United Nations, arguing that the Australian government’s 2030 emissions reduction target fails to uphold the rights of every young person in Australia, and is putting young First Nations people, and people with disabilities, at risk of acute harm from climate change.

Senior climate specialist lawyer at Environmental Justice Australia, Hollie Kerwin, told the Guardian that the move is significant, because UN special rapporteurs – to whom the complaints have been filed – have the power to investigate a breach of human rights, and report these breaches to the Australian representative to the United Nations, and the UN Human Rights Council.

The complaint comes just days before the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Read more at the Guardian.

Island communities are also taking the Australian government to court over climate failures

Sea levels in the Torres Strait have risen 6cm in the last decade and are rising at twice the global average, putting its islands at immense risk from climate change.

Now, the island communities have filed a class action and are taking the Morrison government to court over its failure to act on climate.

The class action is supported by the Grata Fund and the Urgenda Foundation and argues that Australia must cut emissions by 74 percent by 2030 (from 2005 levels) in order to save the Torres Strait Islands from sea level incursion, erosion, storm surge damage and inhabitability.

Without these urgent cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, projections forecast rises of up to a metre by the end of the century, bringing more extreme weather, erosion and inundation, and threatening fresh water supplies.

Read more in the Guardian.

The winners of the inaugural Earthshot Prize have been announced

Last year, our fave Sir David Attenborough teamed up with Price William in a bid to repair our planet within 10 years by launching the Earthshot Prize – heralded as the most prestigious global environment prize in history, designed to incentivise change, and turn the current pessimism surrounding environmental issues into optimism, by highlighting the ability of human ingenuity to bring about change, and inspiring collective action (sounds a bit like what we try to do here at Earth Collective, but without the million pound prize money!!).

The awards were held earlier this month and the five prize winners were announced, each receiving £1million prize money and a global network of professional and technical support to scale their remarkable environmental solutions to repair our planet and accelerate their impact.

The five winners were selected by The Earthshot Prize Council and were chosen for their ground-breaking solutions to the greatest environmental challenges facing our planet and their ability to scale their impact globally in response to the urgent challenges we face. They are:

  • Protect & Restore Nature Winner: Republic of Costa Rica, for the reforestation of the country, thanks to programmes that paid citizens to protect forests, plant trees, and restore ecosystems, resulting in Costa Rica’s forests doubling in size and leading to a boom in ecotourism. Now, the government is taking the same approach to urban areas, and the Earthshot Prize will help it share knowledge and practices globally in a bit to protest 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans in the same way.
  • Clean Our Air Winner: Takachar, which has developed a cheap, small-scale, portable technology that attaches to tractors in remote farms and can convert crop residues into sellable bio-products like fuel and fertiliser. Takachar’s technology reduces smoke emissions by up to 98 percent, which will help improve the air quality that currently reduces the affected population’s life expectancy by up to 5 years. If scaled, it could cut a billion tonnes of carbon dioxide a year.
  • Revive Our Oceans Winner: Coral Vita, which grows coral on land to replant in oceans, giving new life to dying ecosystems. Its methods grow coral up to 50 times faster than traditional methods and improves resilience to the impact of climate change. As well as restoring reefs, Coral Vita’s founders Sam Teicher and Gator Halpern work with local communities, public officials, and private companies to improve education, create new job prospects, and build a model to inject more funding into environmental protection. Coral Vita gives new life not just to the ocean, but to coastal economies as well. With Coral Vita’s methods, a single farm could potentially supply coral for an entire nation, and they ultimately envision a network of such farms in every nation with reefs, kickstarting a restoration economy to preserve the ecosystems that sustain us all. Winning the prize will help them make that vision a reality.
  • Build A Waste Free World Winner: The City of Milan Food Waste Hubs, which were launched in 2019 and are tackling two problems in one. The hubs aimed to halve waste by 2030, each one recovering food mainly from supermarkets and companies’ canteens, and giving it to NGOs to distribute it to the neediest citizens. Today, the city has three Food Waste Hub, each recovering about 130 tonnes of food per year or 350kg per day, an estimated 260,000 meals equivalent. Milan has created a blueprint that can be scaled throughout the world. If more follow Milan’s lead, cities may become one of our greatest assets in humanity’s progress toward a waste free world.
  • Fix Our Climate Winner: AEM Electrolyser by Enapter, which provides a clean power alternative. Co-founded by Vaitea Cowan three years ago, Enapter’s green hydrogen technology could change the way we power our world. Its AEM Electrolyser technology turns renewable electricity into emission-free hydrogen gas. Developed quicker and cheaper than once thought possible, the technology already fuels cars and planes, powers industry and heats homes. Funding from winning The Earthshot Prize would help scale mass production, which is planned to begin in 2022, while growing the team faster and funding further research and development. By 2050, Enapter’s vision is to account for 10 percent of the world’s hydrogen generation.

Huge congratulations to all the winners and nominees in this year’s Earthshot Prize.

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Charli Ferrand

Charli wrote her first novel at the tender age of 9, then dabbled in the idea of becoming a professional ballerina for a few years, before returning to her love of writing, acquiring a BA (Hons) in Journalism, Film & Broadcast from Cardiff University in the UK. A three-month holiday in Australia turned into a 11 year residency, during which Charli cemented her career in PR & Marketing Communications working with some of the biggest brands in the world. She also gained her citizenship, discovered her passion for sustainability and eventually ended up coming full circle, combining her professional skills with her love of the planet and oceans into her role as Editor-in-Chief of Earth Collective. A trained journalist, experienced communications professional and qualified Mental Health First Aider, Charli has her finger on the pulse of the latest political and environmental developments around the world. You can find her writing about current affairs, political activism and mental health.

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