10 Good Things That Came Out of 2017
2017 has given us all enough negative material to satisfy our hunger for dwelling and feeling resolutely defeated over, but come on, it’s the holidays and we’re not about that.
In fact, we’re on a evangelistic style mission to bring you into the light. It’s nice here, honestly! We’ve got the good guys on our side: optimism, hope, and a drive to bring about real, lasting change. Sounds like we’ve let all the twinkling fairy lights and general holiday cheer get to our heads doesn’t it? While that might be a little bit true, it’s also true that some pretty rad stuff happened this year. So sit back, grab a glass of vegan eggnog, and let us convince you of some reasons to celebrate with this collection of the best moments of 2017 for Mother Earth.
Each year, the United Nations gather to discuss how to address climate change at an event called ‘COP.’ This year was the first year gender was officially included as part of the discussions. This is super important because there’s a clear gender differentiation when it comes to the impact of environmental degradation on people, with women being the most vulnerable. Bringing gender into the discussions means the entire population is accounted for in the impactful decisions world leaders and influencers present at COP make.
Felda Global Ventures (FGV), one of the world's LARGEST palm oil growers, buckled this year under the pressure of civil society (folks like us). As a result, FGV have promised to restore over 1,000 hectares of precious peat forest in Indonesia. Bagus Kusuma, who works with Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said, "It sends a serious warning that other destructive palm oil companies should heed: deforestation has consequences.” Not only that, but this move is good news for our beloved orangutans who have been decreasing in numbers in this part of the world as a result of the destruction of their habitats by companies like FGV.
Grubhub reported that this year they’ve seen take-out orders for vegan food rise by 19%, and that was only in October. Not only that, but the UK published a study this year that showed veganism up by 350% since the same estimate 10 years ago. Meanwhile, here in the U.S., a study showed veganism was up by 500% since 2014. Whatever the reason for the vegan uptake, we like those kind of numbers.
The U.S., Canada, Russia, Norway, Greenland/Denmark, China, Japan, Iceland, South Korea, and the European Union agreed in November to protect an area of the Arctic Ocean that’s the size of the Mediterranean Sea against all commercial (and destructive) fishing for the next 16 years while scientists study the impact on the precious wildlife that inhabits the Arctic landscape.
2017 saw a global effort to crack down on single use plastic with countries from the UK to Morocco and Kenya to Canada enacting either high tax rates or comprehensive bans on both the production and use of items like the dreaded plastic bag.
We saw game-changing climate announcements made in 2017 by some of the big dogs in the world’s financial community. To this point, the wealth funds and investors of the world have placed a vast majority of their money in fossil fuel companies, but now many are considering divesting. The World Bank even said it would end all financial support for oil and gas exploration by 2019! FYI, these companies are the sort that might be looking after your pension or your own investments, so always ask what it is your money is being invested in. It’s your right to know and it’s these sorts of questions that have been part of the new wave of decision-making to invest in renewable energy.
The mind blowing series, Blue Planet 2, hosted by environmental icon, David Attenborough, aired this year with a focus on the impact of human activity on the world's oceans and the life that inhabits them. As a result, people around the world who would have otherwise not considered the connection between their lifestyle habits and the planet have been inspired to take a fresh and meaningful look at their relationship with the earth.
A full blown alliance committed to moving the world from burning coal to cleaner power sources was formed in November of this year at the United Nations climate talks. The alliance was well-timed, as lots of countries announced this year that they will be phasing out coal in the next couple of decades (The UK, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, and Finland). The biggest high five goes to Italy, which, after a decade of people-powered activism, responded and announced that they will be phasing out coal by 2025.
Countries in Europe made a cracking move on banning harmful pesticides this year after discovering the link between the use of ‘neonicotinoids’ and the decline of bees. This is super important because bees and other pollinators are keystone species when it comes to biodiversity and sustaining our food crops. They’ve been on the decline for decades because of such pesticide use, as well as habitat loss, but hopefully not for long.
China, which carries the title of the worlds biggest auto market, is joining France and the UK in announcing plans to end sales of petrol and diesel cars. It’s a big move, and while China hasn’t set a date like France and the UK (2040), any attempt to reduce the harmful and polluting carbon emissions made by traditional petrol and diesel cars is welcome here!
I’ll just leave you a sec to let all those good vibes settle.