Climate anxiety is very real, but these good news stories from 2024 prove there is hope for our planet.
Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread – as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot – and often feel them ourselves.
While there’s a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate and nature crises, we must not lose hope – because hopelessness breeds apathy.
The media has an important role to play in combatting climate doom. It’s our job to be truthful and accurate in our reporting, not trying to downplay or greenwash the situation. But it’s also our job to show that there is hope.
In 2023, as part of our ongoing effort to tackle eco-anxiety (both that of our readers and our own), we kept track of all the positive environmental news throughout the year. We racked up over 200 stories of eco-innovation, green breakthroughs and climate wins – more than double the number in 2022 and a sure sign of momentum.
In 2024, we’re confident the good news will keep on coming, as renewable power soars, vulnerable ecosystems gain rights, and climate protocols start to pay dividends.
This article will be regularly updated with the latest good news. It may be something small and local, something silly that made us smile, or something enormous and potentially world-changing.
Positive environmental stories from February 2024
The winners of the “Nobel prize of engineering” have been announced – and they are two European pioneers of wind energy.
Danish Henrik Stiesdal and British Andrew Garrad – often referred to as the ‘Godfathers of wind’ – share this year’s Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, as a recognition of their critical contributions to the development of wind power.
A new dinosaur-like species has been uncovered in Scotland, giving palaeontologists a precious insight into animal life in the Middle Jurassic.
Researchers from the UK’s Natural History Museum first noticed a few bones sticking out of a boulder during a field trip to the Isle of Skye in 2006. That fossil has now been revealed as a new species of pterosaur, named ‘Ceoptera evansae’.
A photo of a young polar bear napping on an iceberg has been handed the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People’s Choice Award.
Nima Sarikhani’s striking Ice Bed, captured off Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, is a poignant visual reminder of how fast the ice caps are melting due to rising temperatures.
The winner said that while climate change is the “biggest challenge we face”, he hopes the photo inspires hope.
One of Europe’s deepest mines is being transformed into an underground energy store. It will use gravity to retain excess power for when it is needed.
The remote Finnish community of Pyhäjärvi is 450 kilometres north of Helsinki. Its more than 1,400-metre-deep zinc and copper Pyhäsalmi mine was decommissioned but is now being given a new lease of life by Scotland-based company Gravitricity.
Next time you hit the gym or jump on your exercise bike, take inspiration from the fact you could be powering a work of art.
While chances are you’re the only one feeling the fitness benefits, a new tech and theatre partnership is proving that anything is possible.
Two specially created exercise bikes powered an entire play in the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre last weekend.
Ireland is set to meet its pledge of providing €225 million in climate finance per year to poorer nations by 2025.
Tánaiste (deputy prime minister of the Republic) Micheál Martin shared the positive news with the publication of Ireland’s climate and environmental finance report for 2022.
California’s collapsing marshlands have found an unlikely saviour in hungry sea otters.
The return of otters and their voracious appetites could halt one of the biggest causes of erosion, a new study shows.
Sea otters eat constantly and one of their favourite snacks is the striped shore crab. These crabs dig burrows and also nibble away roots of the marsh grass pickleweed that holds dirt in place.
Positive environmental stories from January 2024
Climate change was one of the issues at the top of the list for discussion during the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.
From climate referendums to renewable energy, we took a look at the green credentials of the country where the global get-together was held.
Renewable power sources generated enough energy to meet 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2022, recently released government data shows.
Green energy such as wind and hydro generated the equivalent of 113 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption.
This was 26 per cent more than in 2021.
Heavyweights Germany, France and Spain are among 10 member states that have joined Denmark in calling for a 2040 emissions reduction target. This is in line with the advice of EU scientists who say net greenhouse gas output must be slashed to no more than a tenth of 1990 levels.
Denmark is the only country so far to have explicitly endorsed a 90 per cent net reduction target, which equates to a seven-fold reduction from current levels over the next sixteen years.
From a classroom in the Amazon’s tallest treehouse, young Peruvians are learning how to defend their rainforest home.
Nestled in the crown of a strangler fig tree, the rangers have a bird’s eye view over the canopy.
It’s an education in itself, says Juan Julio (JJ) Durand, vice president of Junglekeepers – a nonprofit which conserves threatened habitat in the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region of Peru’s Amazon.
Scientists hope that the first pregnancy of a rhinoceros after an embryo transfer could pave the way to save the nearly extinct northern white rhino subspecies.
The method was tested in another rhino subspecies, with researchers successfully creating a southern white rhino embryo in a lab.
Scientists and veterinarians transferred two southern white rhino embryos into a surrogate mother at a conservancy in Kenya and confirmed a pregnancy of 70 days.
An area of Belgium will soon have new animal-friendly labels on food products.
In Flanders, a Dutch-speaking area in the country’s north, packaging will come with information about animal production standards.
The new label, called Beter voor Dieren (Better for Animals), will identify products whose companies have followed ethical procedures when raising animals used for human consumption.
Single-use plastic bag bans have successfully reduced plastic bag use and associated litter and pollution, a new study has found.
Bans in five US states and cities with a combined population of around 12 million people have cut single-use plastic bag consumption by about 6 billion bags per year, according to the research.
Adopting a ban that’s similar to the policies in these places could eliminate roughly 300 single-use plastic bags per person per year, according to the report.
Chile and Palau have become the first two countries to ratify a landmark UN treaty for the protection of the high seas.
The UN’s High Seas Treaty was adopted last year after almost 20 years of negotiations. More than 80 countries have so far signed it but need to ratify it to be bound by it.
The treaty would become the world’s first international law to mandate the conservation and management of marine life in areas beyond countries’ national jurisdictions.
From being a kid trapped in a storm to walking the halls of power, 31-year-old David Saddington’s life has been shaped by the course of climate change and climate action in the UK.
“It was already clear in 2005 that this issue of ‘climate change’ was going to affect my life and generations to come,” he tells Euronews Green from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. “So I took it upon myself to make a noise in my school.”
But his fledgling climate activism took an unusual turn when he was invited to Downing Street at 14, to discuss the issue with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. He asked the PM to put climate change on the national curriculum – a measure adopted in 2007.
The greenest city in Europe has officially upped sticks from the Baltic shores of Estonia to the Spanish Mediterranean.
Valencia took over as European Green Capital from Tallinn in a ceremony last week, kickstarting more than 400 sustainable events in 2024.
“Valencia has earned the Green Capital title because of its ambitious sustainability strategy, and it has learned from lessons in the past,” says EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.
Scientists have discovered at least four new octopus species in a roughly 260-kilometre square area off the coast of Costa Rica.
“Through hard work, our team discovered new hydrothermal springs offshore [of] Costa Rica and confirmed that they host nurseries of deep-sea octopus and unique biodiversity,” says Dr Beth Orcutt from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences who co-led the expeditions on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor (too).
The return to power of Polish prime minister Donald Tusk could see one of Europe’s least enthusiastic supporters of climate action in recent years throw its weight behind a radical new 2040 emissions reduction target.
Poland’s new government has promised a new coal phase-out date as it signalled support for a 90 per cent reduction in net greenhouse gas output across the EU by 2040.
Food scientists have found a way to make chicken nuggets and fish cakes out of otherwise discarded bones and hard tissues.
The idea is to reduce food waste and carbon emissions from animal agriculture, by getting more mileage out of the meat, thereby requiring fewer animals to be farmed for the same output.
Global renewable energy capacity grew by the fastest pace in the last 20 years in 2023, which could put the world within reach of meeting a key climate target by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The Paris-based agency said rapid growth of solar in China was the main driver as the world added nearly 510 gigawatts – enough to power nearly 51 million homes for a year – with Europe, the United States and Brazil also seeing record growth.
Solar cells that work in low light could help your devices go battery-free.
California-based company Ambient Photonics has been working on indoor solar cells since 2019, improving the performance and price of this emerging technology.
The cells can be ‘printed’ in almost any size and shape for use on everyday devices such as remote controls and wireless keyboards, potentially removing the need for batteries and decreasing the size and weight of electronics.
South Korea’s parliament has passed a landmark ban on the production and sale of dog meat.
Although only a small minority of people still consume dog meat in South Korea, the ancient practise has been the subject of sharp criticism from foreign media and animal rights advocates. In recent years, the country’s younger generations have joined calls to ban it.
On Tuesday 9 January, parliament heeded their calls.
Bratislava is pioneering a new way to recycle cigarette butts.
The Slovakian capital’s municipal waste management company announced a new push to collect and reuse discarded cigarettes in 2024.
During the city’s Christmas markets, the group trialled special containers designed to collect both standard cigarette filters and those found in modern heated tobacco devices like vapes.
The city plans to use the discarded material to create asphalt for roads.
The UK government has announced it will relax planning rules on protected buildings in England to allow the installation of heat pumps and solar panels.
The measures are part of wider efforts to reach net zero targets.
As of 1 January 2024, organic waste recycling is mandatory in France under new ‘compost obligatoire’ rules.
With support from the government’s Green Fund, municipalities must provide residents with ways to sort bio-waste, which includes food scraps, vegetable peels, expired food and garden waste.
Food waste is responsible for about 16 per cent of the total emissions from the EU food system, according to the European Commission.
Our favourite positive environmental story from 2023
If you’ve been living in the tiny EU state of Luxembourg you will already have had access to free public transport for the last three years.
Unsurprisingly on the anniversary of this novel and seemingly very expensive public initiative, almost everyone who uses trams, buses and trains in the tiny EU state says they’re happy with it.
“Since it’s free, it’s easier to make a decision quickly, to choose between public transport or a private car. This means that it is very positive for the environment and practical,” one man said whilst using the tram in Luxembourg City.
For more good news on the environment from last year, check out all of Euronews Green’s positive environmental stories from 2023.