This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.
Earth Day is next week, and with it comes good news on the climate front. US President Joe Biden plans to host world leaders on April 22 — Earth Day itself — to motivate US allies to plan big in advance of the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow this October. The New York Times reported this week that Biden’s meeting looks to draw some big announcements, including from Japan, which plans to cut emissions 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030; South Korea, which will announce an overseas coal moratorium; and Canada, which also promises a big statement.
High-level announcements like these are encouraging, but for the average person, they tend to get lost in translation, partly because realizing these announcements is often years away and because they’re so high-level that it’s tough for you and me to feel like we’re playing a part. In honor of the feel-good nature of Earth Day, The Climate Win is taking this week to highlight another form of global sustainability initiatives: lower-level achievements that everyday travelers cannot only appreciate, but participate in as travel comes back.
Our Earth Day tour starts down under, in Australia. The city of Adelaide, South Australia, is now officially home to the world’s first solar-powered public transportation system, the Tindo Electric Bus, a free bus that shuttles passengers through the city’s center using solar-charged voltaic batteries. Farther east in Victoria, the city of Melbourne is pioneering a rooftop honey program called, appropriately, Rooftop Honey, to reclaim unused rooftops and balconies as a habitat for honey bees to help them survive and thrive in an urban environment. And finally, a new koala hospital will open this year at the Werribee Open Range Zoo in the state of Victoria to house koalas impacted by last year’s bush fires.
Moving north to East Asia, Intrepid Travel has launched two “decarbonized” tour itineraries. The first, a 12-day tour from Beijing to Hong Kong, swaps out internal flights for high-speed rail travel across China to complement a number of foot-powered adventures on the daily itinerary. The second, Premium Cambodia, will now shuttle passengers by ferry up the Tonle Sap River between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in place of the domestic flight used previously.
In Europe, the French parliament voted Sunday to approve a ban on short-haul domestic flights. Yes, technically, this is news you officially can’t participate in, but what you can do is hop on a train when traveling in France, which is both more sustainable and more enjoyable, anyhow.
And here on the homefront in the United States, Las Vegas — the beacon of excess and consumerism — is in the process of banning “ornamental grass.” Up to eight square miles of grassed area across the metro area could be headed for fresh landscaping, following a two-decade push to get residents off the water-sucking green, The Associated Press reported.
More climate wins
The transition to electric vehicles in the United States took a step forward this week as two giant battery makers settled a trade dispute that will allow a battery factory in Georgia to proceed, NPR. The factory will employ Americans to build and power American-made cars to run green on American streets, a modern take on the classic dream.
Facebook announced on its website this week that its entire global operation is now powered by 100 percent renewable energy. In celebration of Earth Day, the social media giant plans to highlight “creators, small businesses and educational resources” leading the fight against climate change via its various accounts: @Instagram, @Creators, @InstagramforBusiness, and @Shop.
The Navajo Nation has finalized two massive solar leases on its land. The Cameron Solar Generation Plant will provide power to one of Arizona’s largest utilities, while the Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Generation Plant will provide power to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. Both plants will create hundreds of jobs during construction, The Associated Press reported.