🌱 The Grumpy Optimists #119
Who's actually behind The Grumpy Optimists? A brief hello to who I am.
Hello to all of you Grumpy Optimists, and happy Monday. 👋
I hope you had a fantastic weekend and are ready for another week of positive climate news, action and my thoughts. This week, I’ve picked up Hannah Ritchie’s Not the End of the World and look forward to giving you a review soon. To get a great summary of the introduction, you can just watch this Hans Rosling video, a gateway drug to being an optimist.
For those of you who are new to the newsletter or you just read it and don’t know who’s behind it, I thought I’d take a second to introduce myself. I’m George, an ardent climate optimist who’s a big fan of running long distances, eating great food and trying to help companies reduce their impact on the planet. Nearly three years ago, I co-founded Zevero, a carbon management platform to help businesses measure, reduce and report their carbon emissions, and it’s a joy to wake up every day feeling like I’m making a difference. Here’s me looking as white British as one can be running in the Alps this summer to make you realise I’m a real human behind these words.
Anyway, enough of all that. Let’s dig into this week’s newsletter, shall we?
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👀 Articles to read
🌳 Deforestation in Brazil falls 50% in 2023. Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon fell nearly 50% in 2023, the lowest in five years, yet still six times larger than New York City. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva vows to end deforestation by 2030, with efforts against illegal practices continuing. The decline is credited to increased inspections by Ibama.
💭 Major changes we can expect to see from 2024-2030. One of my favourite optimists is Tony Seba, a man known for his bold predictions, which tend to be correct. In this article, Tony outlines his insights into the next six years. To me, the biggest takeaway from this article and some of the books I’ve been reading is the role of precision fermentation and how it can create a second domestication of our food system. I recommend a read and also check out this video from 2019 to see how his once bold predictions don’t seem so bold anymore.
🍃 Uruguay’s rise to energy independence from renewables. Back in the 2000s, Uruguay faced energy challenges due to its reliance on imports and high energy prices, but over the last 15 years, it’s looked to transition towards renewable energy and, in particular, wind. Now? 98% of the energy in Uruguay is powered by renewables. The country's biggest challenge was to change the narrative around renewables, framing them not as good for climate change but as the cheapest and most secure option. A cool case study for what’s possible.
👟 Quechua launches a one-material hiking shoe. In partnership with Decathlon, the outdoor brand Quechua has launched a hiking shoe made from just one material instead of the six its predecessor was made of. That makes it easier to recycle and creates a more circular system for textiles. Decathlon is helping roll out the first 3,000 pairs for testing to ensure the product is built for its purpose.
📈 The IEA raises their renewable energy forecast AGAIN. A surge in Chinese solar power fueled a record-breaking year of renewables in 2023, contributing to a 49% increase in renewable capacity additions globally. That led to the International Energy Agency (IEA) significantly upgrading its renewables forecast for 2023 and 2023. Solar is the real winner, too. Over the next five years, 73% of the 3,174GW of new capacity is projected to be solar-driven. The tide is changing, and renewables are exceeding expectations.
🔌 BT turn 60,000 retiring street cabinets into EV charging points. BT Group are planning to convert up to 60,000 of its old cabinets, previously used for storing broadband and phone cabling, into charging points for Electric Vehicles. There are currently 50,000 EV chargers in the UK, with a 300,000 charger target set for 2030. Interestingly, around 1/3 of the chargers are currently in London. With the growth in EV car sales in the UK actually flatlining at roughly 16% of all new vehicles, ensuring we have the infrastructure to support people making the switch is crucial. I also love that an almost iconic part of UK streets can be repurposed for the future.
🚗 France introduces EV leasing from €54 for low income households. France's government-backed "social leasing" initiative allows low-income families to lease the new Citroen e-C3 for as little as €54 per month without a down payment. The program aims to make electric mobility more accessible. Eligibility requires residency in France, an annual income of up to €15,400, travelling more than 8,000 km per year, and living at least 15 km away from the workplace. While this is great, it’s not a replacement for creating public transport systems that work.
💩 Turning poo into jet fuel. A new aviation company has developed a type of jet fuel made entirely from human sewage. The fuel, created by chemists at a lab in Gloucestershire, was found to be nearly identical to standard fossil jet fuel by international aviation regulators. The fuel's life cycle carbon impact was examined, and it was concluded that it has a 90% lower carbon footprint than standard jet fuel. The company is now raising funds to build a full-scale demonstrator factory in the UK.
💡 Should storms be named after fossil fuel companies? John Uden, a reader of the Guardian, recently wrote about how the UK should name its storms after fossil fuel companies rather than the names we typically give them. Instead of naming them things like ‘Storm Gloria’, we should be naming them ‘Storm Esso’ to show the driving force behind the rise in severe weather. I LOVE IT.
🐝 MelBio make honey without the bees. A California startup is launching its plant-based bee-free honey products in the UK, Switzerland, and Austria, with the bee-free product sold at ALDI under the label ‘Just Veg’. The company looks to solve the challenge of the falling honeybee population and a rise in consumer demand.
🔋 Google Maps integrates EV battery range. One of the biggest challenges with helping people switch to EVs is the fear of a battery running out of charge. That’s why the fact that Google Maps can now integrate with some car batteries and display what your battery will be when you arrive at your destination.
This week’s episode was written after copious amounts of exercise and some great unreleased Fred Again. I’m grateful for everyone who continues to subscribe to this newsletter and for the positive comments, DMs and likes that you leave. You’re all appreciated. Go have a great week.
George, the Grumpy Optimist. 💚