Happy Monday. 👋
Welcome back to another Grumpy Optimists newsletter. For those of you who are new and subscribed this week, welcome, thank you for being here and I’m glad I can make your Monday morning a little bit more optimistic. To those of you who shared the blog last week, you’re amazing and I love you, it’s genuinely very cool when I get random messages from people telling me how much they love the blog (not just my mum), it makes me really enjoy writing them.
This week, we’re looking at a whole host of positive stories, but I’m also giving you a little garden tour, don’t say I don’t treat you. Without further ado, let’s dig in, shall we?
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👀 Articles to read
💨 Wind turbines were the biggest source of electricity in the UK for the first quarter of the UK. This is one to blow the cobwebs away from any eco-anxiety. Wind turbines were the UK's biggest source of energy for the first time, overtaking natural gas in the first three months of the year and accounting for 32.4% of the total electricity production during this period. Imagine what we could do if we allowed onshore wind and unlocked the biggest opportunity to decarbonise UK energy!
🚌 12,000 electric buses for Nigeria. Yuton, a Chinese electric vehicle company, will help roll out over 12,000 electric buses on Nigerian roads over the next 7 years. A clean energy company will help provide the infrastructure to charge the vehicles too. To put these numbers into context, this is more than the entire fleet of electric buses across Europe. However, Nigeria's national grid currently relies on a lot of gas and oil so for this to help reduce emissions, more renewable energy needs to be added to the grid.
🏦 BNP Paribas to stop financing new oil and gas fields. BNP Paribas is one of the largest banks in the world and has now committed to stop directly financing new oil and gas fields, joining HSBC as the second-largest global bank to do so. BNP Paribas' updated policy also includes commitments to reduce financing for oil extraction and production by over 80% and for gas extraction and production by more than 30% by 2030, while transitioning 80% of its energy financing activities to low-carbon energies by 2030. Hopefully, this will push more banks to stop financing new oil and gas.
♻️ EU votes to clamp down on greenwashing. The European Parliament voted to improve product durability and combat misleading greenwashing this week and is looking to ban ‘carbon neutral’ products. Terms like ‘eco’, ‘natural’, or ‘biodegradable’ will also be banned, with companies only able to use labels in line with official certification schemes or ones established by public authorities. As somebody who runs a carbon accounting company that cares about accuracy above all else, I fully support this decision.
🔋 Microsoft to source electricity from the world’s first fusion plant. In a world first, Microsoft will procure energy from the nuclear fusion company, Helion, in 2028. Fusion is nuclear energy that has no bi-products and could well be a game changer for decarbonising electricity.
🐑 Sheep are really great urban lawnmowers. Back in 2021, the University of California Davis, put some sheep to work to keep the grass short and provide a boost to students, it turns out, they’re quite good at it. By eating the grass and pooing it out, the sheep help enrich soils and offer a welcome sight and quietness, especially compared to noisy lawnmowers. Kinda random, really fun.
😠 Renewable energy projects worth billion are on hold due to grid capacity. Last week I wrote about how Octopus Energy is calling to make it easier and quicker to connect renewable energy projects to the UK national grid, this week, the scale of the problem was made clear, £200bn in projects are sitting in the connection queue. This makes the connection to the grid one of the longest in Europe and a key blocker in decarbonising electricity in the UK.
⛪ The Church of England is taking on Shell. With BP weakening its climate targets and Shell signalling an intent to do the same, the Church of England Pensions Board is calling for Shell to stop their short-term thinking and minimise long-term risk to shareholders. The board will be voting against Shell’s ‘transition plan’ and instead call for more ambitious targets.
🗺️ Google Maps make climate and environmental data cool. A new tool from Google called the Environmental Insights Explorer (EIE) uses the power of data, machine learning and mapping tools to create an ex-geography student’s dream. The tool helps you see things like building emissions, transport data, tree canopy cover and the potential for rooftop solar. Google hope the project can enable change-makers around the world to create more sustainable places. Have a dig around, it’s really quite fun.
📔 Why we need new stories about climate. This Guardian long read is the exact reason I started writing The Grumpy Optimists, the climate crisis is a storytelling crisis and the narrative needs to be firmly set on telling a story of hope, optimism and collective power. We need to present climate action in a way that people can believe in a better world, and importantly, act on this. A long, but worthwhile read - recommended action point number one? Share The Grumpy Optimists with a friend, think of it as good karma.
👨🏻 The rise of the climate Dad. Despite the common stereotype of American dads dismissing climate change, recent data from the Heatmap Climate Poll suggests otherwise. Dads are now actively embracing climate-friendly practices, showing greater interest in electric vehicles, heat pumps and solar as well as adopting plant-based diets. I for one, while not being a dad (thankfully for now), can very much get behind the idea of a stereotypical man loving a bit of tofu and wanting decarbonisation.
🪴 A garden update
Last year I think I made my grandad more proud than he ever has been by growing some potatoes, tomatoes and courgettes, but this year I've upped my game and thought I’d share with you.
From scrap wood in a neighbour's front garden, £6 on some screws and a lot more on compost, I’ve been able to create what is now a pretty good-looking allotment in my back garden. My courgettes are being ravaged by slugs, and my carrots don’t seem overly hopeful, but I am. I’m also very grateful for the opportunity to grow my own veg and have a space I can enjoy the outdoors and recognise the beauty of growth and the summer sun.
I’ll probably continue to give garden updates every now and then, preferably with things growing (I had my first radish of the year this weekend). If this doesn’t interest you and you only came for the news, that’s fine, but consider this the end of any friendship we may have had.
This week’s blog was written after spending the afternoon in the above garden, getting dirt under my nails and the sun on my back. I’ve been listening to this throwback banger all week to hype me up for my 7am cycle to work. Have a good week all, go get some vitamin D in you and get your exercise in.
Climate storytelling is my pet project - working in climate policy for my day job. Telling the story of the positives of decarbonisation is key and I think we still by and large think of decarbonisation as a process of shrinking choices rather than improving lives.