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🌱 The Grumpy Optimists #114
Can a state sue a company for pollution? New York thinks so.
Happy Monday. 👋
Welcome back to another week of The Grumpy Optimists and your recap of all the positive climate news from last week.
This week we’re looking at the US and China getting on the same page on climate, tackling plastic waste in the US and the EU and Kenya announcing a national holiday for tree planting (jealous).
Let’s dig in, shall we?
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👀 Articles to read
🇨🇳 US and China progress in climate talks. The US and China have agreed to cooperate on tackling climate change, focusing on methane reduction and supporting a global push for more renewable energy by 2030. Leaders from both countries met in San Francisco this week with the agreement seen as an important step from the two largest polluters in the world. However, the statement does not explicitly address ending the use of fossil fuels or limiting coal consumption, but we can’t let progress get in the way of perfection (well, not for a tiny bit longer before we’re really f*cked.)
🐋 Dominica creates the world's first protected area for sperm whales. The Caribbean island of Dominica has created a 300 sq mile reserve to act as key nursing and feeding grounds for the endangered sperm whale. Interesting fact, sperm whales have the largest brain of any species in the world.
🚍 Hitachi and FirstGroup deliver 1,000 new bus batteries. Hitachi will supply over 1,000 batteries for the UK’s bus company FirstGroup to get them closer to their 1,500 electric bus goal. That will save around 84,675 tCO2e per year – 677,400 tCO2e over eight years compared with diesel buses.
🇪🇺 EU agrees law to limit methane emissions. Last Wednesday, the EU reached a deal on a law to place methane emission limits on Europe’s oil and gas imports from 2030. Methane stands as the second most significant driver of climate change behind carbon dioxide and in the short term has a higher warming effect. This law is powerful in that it will not just affect EU countries, but major gas suppliers around the world, often with issues related to methane release.
🌳 Kenya announces a country-wide holiday to plant trees. As part of its drive to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years, Kenya is providing a national holiday for its population to get involved in climate action. Each Kenyan is being encouraged to plant at least two seedlings with a 100-million target. The seedlings will be provided for free to plant in specific areas. An app will be used to help people plant the right trees in the right places (we love non-invasive planting). This is a pretty cool initiative to get people engaging in nature and to take ownership of a small piece of climate action.
🧴New York sues PepsiCo for threatening health with plastic pollution. New York's attorney general has sued PepsiCo, alleging that the company is endangering health and the environment with pollution from its single-use plastic products and making misleading statements about reducing single-use plastic. A study from Buffalo found that 17% of plastic waste collected on a litter pick was produced by PepsiCo. Similarly, in the UK, the great people at Surfers Against Sewage found PepsiCo to be the third largest polluter behind Coca-Cola and McDonald’s.
🥤EU bans export of plastic waste to poor countries. In 2020, the EU exported 32.7 million tonnes of plastic waste to non-EU countries, this is often sent abroad to be processed, landfilled and burnt. But, from mid-2026, EU countries are banned from exporting plastic waste to none OECD countries, aiming to prevent plastic waste from being shipped at low cost to developing countries. While the deal doesn’t cover all plastic, it’s a significant step for an industry and society so used to externalising our problems.
🛰️ Satellite to monitor Earth’s biggest polluters goes live. The launch of the GHGSat's "Vanguard" satellite will enable high-resolution tracking of carbon dioxide emissions, right down to the power plant level. No longer can countries and companies get away with incorrectly reporting their emissions, instead, they’ll be tracked from the sky. Huge!
This week’s episode was written after a great Sunday lunch, my first mince pie of the year and some great music from Paolo Nutini. If you would be so kind as to share this with one of your colleagues, a friend or heck, even an enemy, it all counts for me.
George, the Grumpy Optimist 💚