Why we are optimists


It has been a rough year. We’d like to brighten up your thoughts by sharing a few things that made us optimistic in 2022.

Most important is that the serious financial media are saying that renewable electricity is cheaper than fossil fuels electricity While replacing the old infrastructure which delivers electricity generated by fossil fuels is the hurdle, and while the switch may be too little too late to halt global warning, it is a start.

The argument has gone from “is a switch to renewables the right thing to do?” to “how much will it cost?”.

The most recently published World Energy Outlook found that global fossil fuel combustion CO2 emissions rose by just under one per cent last year. This was due to growth in renewable energy and electric vehicles. In 2021, post pandemic, the increase was much larger. Solar and wind are replacing much of the gas withheld by Russia, “with the uptick in coal appearing to be relatively small and temporary,” says Faith Birol head of IEA.

Our World in Data identifies 26 countries including China, that not only pulled off the emissions drop, but grew their economies simultaneously.

For the first time, the IEA says global fossil fuel use could peak over the next decade thanks to stronger global emissions policies. We would add “and relative price changes”.

On other topics:

Despite the pandemic, the global economy has not collapsed, we survived and medicine has made advances in vaccines that would not have happened otherwise. The American government has maintained the ability of citizens to vote, to criticize the government, and to change unjust laws. And “we are not living through World War III”.

nother threat to humanity is bio-degradation. In New Shoots, we discussed a number of snapshots of people acting to reverse the biodegradation of our planet. On 19 December 2022, during Cop15, a historic deal was struck to halt biodiversity loss by 2030.

Indonesia plans to protect 10 per cent of its seas by 2030, and 30 per cent by 2045. The Global Mangrove Alliance has reported a decline in the overall rate of mangrove loss. More than 42 per cent of the world’s mangroves are now protected, an increase of 17 per cent since 2012.

The Sea Women of Melanesia has more than 40 members and protects 43 marine areas. “It is a team of women who are passionate about marine conservation and who are willing to go back to their community to set up marine reserves”, says team leader Naomi Longa.

Local women learn essential skills such as snorkeling and underwater photography, and take classes in marine science. They help monitor the health of coral reefs in protected marine areas and assess the effects of coral bleaching on underwater life.

Langholm in Scotland was in decline as mills closed and the local landowner reduced his estate shooting business. The community bought some of his land and created the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, to regenerate the community and the land, via ecotourism, environmental study centres and landscape restoration.

Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools, one of Africa’s most renowned game-viewing destinations, has maintained a zero elephant poaching rate for the third year in a row – a staggering achievement given 12,000 were poached in the area in the past ten years. More funding for local rangers along with the introduction of tracking technology and smartphones has driven the change..

Children in Brazil are breeding mosquitoes at home as part of a life-saving health initiative[13]. These mosquitos are infected with Wolbachia bacteria under a pioneering initiative from the World Mosquito Programme.

Wolbachia cripples the insects’ ability to transmit blood-borne viruses like dengue, Zika, chikungunya and yellow fever. It is spread by releasing captive mosquitoes to breed with wild populations.

We hope these examples help you discover some optimism too.

A longer version of this blog was first published as a Z/Yen Long Finance Pamphleteers on 20 December 2022

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Radix is the radical centre think tank. We welcome all contributions which promote system change, challenge established notions and re-imagine our societies. The views expressed here are those of the individual contributor and not necessarily shared by Radix.

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