Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread - as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot - and often feel them ourselves.
There's a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate and nature crises, but when a sense of hopelessness becomes the overarching emotion, apathy begins to creep in too. Last year three environmental educators, all part of EcoTok, penned this excellent piece for us about dealing with eco-anxiety and the need to remain hopeful - or "stubbornly optimistic", as Christiana Figueres puts it.
The media has a huge part to play in combatting climate doom. It's our job to be truthful and accurate in our reporting, not trying to downplay the severity of the situation or greenwash reality. But it's also our job to show that there is hope!
So, for 2022, as part of our ongoing effort to tackle eco-anxiety (both that of our readers and our own), we are going to be keeping track of all the positive environmental stories from this year.
This article will be regularly updated with the latest good news. It may be something small and local, something silly that made us smile, or something enormous and potentially world-changing.
Positive environmental stories from August 2022
In an unprecedented show of solidarity, communities in the Amazon, NGOs and local governments are teaming up to protect Ecuador's rainforest.
Named the Amazonian Platform for Forests, Climate and Human Wellbeing, the collective aims to combat climate change, and protect critical ecosystems and threatened species, while incorporating the vision of the Indigenous nationalities who live in the region.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA) have developed a paper battery with a water switch that could be used to power single-use disposable electronics.
Once they iron out some kinks in the development, it could be used for smart labels to track objects like packages. Other applications include environmental sensors or even medical devices, the researchers say.
Because paper and zinc are biodegradable, they believe the battery could help reduce the environmental impact of single-use electronics.
The world’s fastest electric ship will set sail in Stockholm next year, slashing environmental impacts and commuter time.
The Candela P-12 is a 30-passenger “flying ferry” that will reach speeds of 30 knots. Even better, the ship is said to be the most energy-efficient yet.
The P-12’s flying ability and subsequent lack of wake prevent wave damage to sensitive shorelines and nature caused by conventional passenger ships.
In India, cheetahs have been extinct for over half a century. In August 2022, however, the big cats will finally return to the country.
An ambitious conservation project aims to relocate a group of cheetahs from South Africa and Namibia to India. It marks the first attempt to move a large carnivore across continents with the aim of reintroducing it into the wild.
Over the next few years, India hopes to bring cheetahs back to several of its national parks and reserves.
Two-thirds of Australia's Great Barrier Reef showed the largest amount of coral cover in 36 years.
"What we're seeing is that the Great Barrier Reef is still a resilient system. It still maintains that ability to recover from disturbances," says the Australian Institute of Marine Sciences monitoring programme leader, Mike Emslie.
The reef still remains vulnerable to increasingly frequent mass bleaching, however, according to an official long-term monitoring programme report.
A lost species of iguana has been ‘born again’ on the Galápagos Islands for the first time in nearly 200 years.
The Galápagos Island land iguana was last spotted on Santiago Island more than 187 years ago. Ecologists determined that the reptiles were locally extinct.
But three years ago, thousands of the creatures were reintroduced to the islands - and new images prove that the lizard is breeding once again.
Canada is set to impose a new ‘luxury tax’ on the sale and importation of high-value cars, planes and boats. Coming into effect on 1 September 2022, the Select Luxury Items Tax Act is billed as part of the government’s commitment to a fairer tax system.
It will ensure that “those Canadians who can afford to buy luxury goods are contributing a little more,” according to a statement on the Government of Canada’s website.
Positive environmental stories from July 2022
Eco-conscious German property hunters now have the chance to make Berlin’s former airport-turned-residential community their home.
The ambitious 5-million sqm ‘Tegel Projekt’ renovation will transform the disused Tegel airport into a 10,000-person, 5,000-apartment community with shops, restaurants, schools and parks.
Vertical gardens will keep the apartment blocks cool without the need for energy-guzzling air conditioning, while the largely-pedestrianised community will put bikes before cars. Electric buses and a tramway are slated as future developments.
An unexpected deal reached by Senate Democrats would be the most ambitious action ever taken by the United States to address global warming.
The massive bill, which revives action on climate change, could help President Joe Biden come close to meeting his pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
It proposes nearly $370 billion (€362 billion) of spending over 10 years to boost electric vehicles, jump-start renewable energy such as solar and wind power and develop alternative energy sources like hydrogen.
Environmentalists who took legal action to prevent a toxic waste dump in an ancient pocket of Tasmania’s Tarkine rainforest are celebrating a federal court win.
Chinese mining company MMG gained approval to open a tailings dam near the town of Rosebery on the island's west coast.
In July, federal court justice Mark Moshinsky upheld a Tasmanian NGO’s objection to the project on the grounds that the endangered Tasmanian masked owl was not properly considered before approval was granted. A new assessment is now set to take place, effectively halting MMG’s plans for the dam.
Using cooking oil being to power diesel engines has been illegal in France - until now.
In July, France's parliament voted on a €20 billion package in response to rising inflation and potential energy shortages this winter. Although the bills still need to pass through the Senate, one of them will allow and endorse the possible usage of frying oil as fuel for vehicles.
Not only could this provide relief for French wallets amid rising fuel prices, it could help limit pollution from diesel engines.
As urban planners grapple with Rotterdam's space problem, one company, Wikkelboat, has an idea: tiny floating homes made from cardboard.
Protected with a waterproof coating, these small buildings are insulated, durable, and have low production emissions.
The floating mini-buildings have a variety of uses such as hotels, event spaces, offices and temporary accommodation. And it’s hoped they could be part of a solution to develop Dutch cities on the water.
Rising energy costs are plaguing homes across Europe but in the UK, there could be some good news.
In July, the government invested record-breaking amounts into renewables with the capacity to generate up to 11 gigawatts of energy. That's enough to power 12 million homes at once.
It could help generate electricity at prices around four times less than the current cost of gas.
World famous toy company Mattel has launched a doll of renowned conservationist Jane Goodall.
It comes with all the accessories any aspiring naturalist could need including a model of David Greybeard, the first chimp to trust Jane when she was carrying out her groundbreaking research on these animals. It is also made from 75 per cent recycled plastic.
The primatologist said that she hopes it will provide a positive female role model for young girls.
Solar energy stored in ‘sand batteries’ could help get Finns through the long cold winter, which is set to be even tougher after Russia stopped its gas and electricity supplies.
The new technology has been devised by young Finnish engineers Tommi Eronen and Markku Ylönen, founders of Polar Night Energy, but could be used worldwide.
Though a number of other research groups are testing the limits of sand as green energy storage, the pair are the first ones to successfully rig it to a commercial power station.
Dolphin poo could be the key to saving the world’s coral reefs, according to a new study.
Spinner dolphins, famous for their acrobatic marina displays, have some very special excrement. Their poo has “reef-enhancing nutrients” which are not to be underestimated, a report by Zoological Society London (ZSL) finds.
The dolphins are giving threatened coral reefs in the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago a helping hand by pooing in the shallow lagoons. Published this week, the study shows that the amount of nitrogen absorbed by spinner dolphins during their daily commute can improve coral reef productivity and resilience.
Forget fossil fuel travel - airplanes could one day run on sugar-munching bacteria.
Conventional jet fuel is created by burning fossil fuels like oil and gas, generating a mammoth carbon footprint. But a tiny common soil bacteria could change all this.
The ‘streptomyces’ bacteria creates an ‘explosive’ molecule when it eats sugar and researchers claim it could be used as alternative plane fuel.
“If we can make this fuel with biology there’s no excuses to make it with oil,” says Pablo Cruz-Morales, a microbiologist at the Technical University of Denmark.
A research team at US and Chinese universities say they have discovered a way to help plants survive extreme heat.
With agricultural crops around the world threatened by rising temperatures, this research could help plants resist climate change.
If the findings can be applied to commonly grown crops, it could be vital for protecting food supplies during heatwaves.
One afternoon in Mupindi Village, Gokwe South, more than 400 kilometres from Zimbabwe’s capital Harare, a smallholder farmer called Bernard Mupindi is pruning the rough, hairy triangular leaves that grow around the stem of a sunflower.
The blooming yellow sunflowers in this 3.5-hectare piece of land are less than a month away from harvest. Mupindi still recalls growing sunflowers for his family to eat around a decade ago, but he had no idea how quickly that would change.
Little did he know, growing sunflowers would soon serve to counter the effects of climate change.
A water battery capable of storing electricity equivalent to 400,000 electric car batteries will begin operating in Switzerland next week.
The pumped storage power plant was built into a subterranean cavern in the Swiss canton of Valais.
With the ability to store and generate vast quantities of hydroelectric energy, the battery will play an important role in stabilising power supplies in Switzerland and Europe.
Positive environmental stories from June 2022
Our very own Green deputy editor, Maeve Campbell, meets Henry Emson from 'One Life, One Tree' to plant a giant sequoia in the British countryside.
So why are sequoias so special? Watch the video to see what happened.
'Stop suffocating your vagina': Reusable period pad launches to help women have plastic-free periods
A Danish startup is pioneering reusable menstrual products to help women go plastic-free on their period.
The company's latest product, LastPad, launched this week - after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised more than 20 times its initial fundraising goal back in 2021.
LastPad is a reusable menstrual pad for planet-friendly periods that "doesn't compromise on comfort and protection." It comes in three sizes (from pantyliners to overnight pads) and is made with three layers.
Christians in the Oxford district of England are being asked to take a very specific pledge to protect the environment.
From now on, those who undertake confirmation or baptism ceremonies at the large Church of England diocese - which spans the counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire - will also have to commit to climate action.
The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, recently approved a revision to the formal liturgy which includes the following lines,
‘Will you strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth? With the help of God I will.’
Millions of tonnes of plastic wind up in the ocean every year, killing plants and animals. That’s why companies around the world have developed novel devices to help reduce the ocean plastic problem.
Dutch company RanMarine has deployed several 157-centimetre wide aquatic drones called WasteSharks that capture rubbish and bring it back to land.
The drones can hold 160 litres of trash, floating plants and algae, according to RanMarine Technology.
This species was thought to have been extinct for more than a century, the only known specimen discovered in 1906. A lone female tortoise was discovered in 2019 on Fernandina island in the Galápagos, providing a hint that the species may still be alive.
Now scientists have proved that the two individuals are in fact related, opening up further mysteries about the species' survival.
In 2020, Leuven in Belgium was named the European Capital of Innovation. It invested its €1 million prize money wisely, striving to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Leuven has become a cycling paradise with cars taking a back seat on its roads. It is now the only city in Belgium where bikes are actually the preferred mode of transport. Thanks to a strong green mobility plan, cycling has increased by an astounding 40 per cent.
In Langholm, near Gretna Green on the English border, the community raised €4.5 million last year. They wanted to buy 2,100 hectares of land from the Duke of Buccleuch, one of the UK’s most powerful landowners.
The villagers were successful and have already seen results from their protection of this land. Now they are fundraising again to double the size of this community takeover.
The UK is heavily dependent on imported foods - especially when it comes to fruit and veg. Nearly half of all food eaten in the country comes from overseas.
But one company is hoping to solve this problem by building what will be the world's largest vertical farm in Lincolnshire, England. It is set to open in autumn this year.
With a lower environmental impact than traditional agriculture, they hope that this innovative solution will produce certain crops 365 days a year without increasing our air miles. We could see British-grown strawberries at Christmas before we know it.
It has been 20 years since this small blue parrot has been seen in the wild. Illegal trade, hunting, and destruction of its habitat led to its disappearance.
But one of the rarest birds in the world could soon be set for a comeback. A German NGO is working hard to breed a new population of Spix's Macaws, bringing their number up to 180 healthy individuals.
This seagrass covers an area roughly three times the size of Manhattan. It was discovered by scientists at the University of Western Australia and Flinders University.
Initially, they thought it was a meadow of different grasses but have discovered that the incredibly long plant is just one seagrass. They believe it has survived the impact of climate change thanks to one special trait - it has been reproducing asexually.
Finland will become the first European country to reach net zero if it meets ambitious climate targets passed into law by the government. But it wants to go one step further than that by becoming carbon negative by 2040.
The country is still having issues with deforestation but is currently working on a plan to improve the carbon emissions of the land-use sector. It also has a wealth of natural resources it can rely on to help reach its carbon negative target.
Positive environmental stories from May 2022
The plight of vaquitas has only worsened in recent years, but scientists have some relatively good news about the little porpoise.
Despite only around 10 individuals still existing in Mexico, a team of biologists have found that the species remains healthy and can survive - so long as illegal fishing in their waters stops.
Vaquitas, which belong to the cetacean family of dolphins and whales, are the world’s rarest marine mammals. With large dark rings around their eyes and dark patches on their lips resembling smiles, they’ve long been a poster child of conservation groups.
But despite their endearing appearance to humans, there’s a sad probability they’ll disappear in our lifetime unless quick action is taken.
The European Commission is hoping to jumpstart a large-scale rollout of solar energy and rebuild Europe's solar manufacturing industry.
The plan is part of its bid to wean countries off Russian fossil fuels.
"Solar electricity and heat are key for phasing out EU's dependence on Russian natural gas," the Commission said in the draft, due to be published next week in a package of proposals to end the European Union's reliance on Russian oil and gas.
In a gripping underwater rescue, Spanish divers have freed a 12-metre long humpback whale entangled in an illegal drift net off the Balearic island of Mallorca.
One of the divers was 32-year-old marine biologist Gigi Torras.
Torras said last Friday that the rescue was a great birthday present for her - the 'best ever' in her words. She also felt that she received a little gesture of appreciation from the giant mammal itself.
"It was like out of this world, it was incredible, just incredible," she said.
The world’s first ‘net-zero’ operation has been performed in the UK, paving the way for more sustainable practices in healthcare.
Doctors at Solihull Hospital in the West Midlands carried out a five-hour bowel cancer surgery that was completely carbon neutral.
Though patients’ health is of course the priority, hospitals have a surprisingly large carbon footprint. The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) accounts for around 6 per cent of the country’s total CO2 emissions.
Which makes last month’s operation all the more significant. Consultant colorectal surgeon Aneel Bhangu says that - as a high emitter - the NHS will have an impact on people’s health in the medium and longer term.
It might sound disgusting, but scientists are pretty confident this unique natural solution could be a good alternative to chemical fertilisers.
Urine is not normally a major carrier of disease and doesn't have to be heavily processed before it can be used on crops.
It would mean completely rethinking toilets to capture the urine before it ends up in the sewers. Prototypes were first tested in Swedish ecovillages in the 1990s but now experiments are being carried out around the world.
Positive environmental stories from April 2022
We love this story simply because it shows how brilliant people can be.
The winner wrote an open letter, while keeping his anonymity, to explain why he has made the excellent decision.
Can't recommend reading this piece enough, especially if you're feeling down about the world.
Did you know that sloths are one of the most endangered mammals on the planet?
The issues begin young in Costa Rica, with many cubs found orphaned.
But this rehabilitation centre is doing amazing work with these mammals and helping the population survive.
This was one of our top-performing articles this month - it seems our readers just can't get enough content about solar power!
And this was some particularly good news to receive.
As the IPCC report calls for us to completely leave fossil fuels behind, it's always nice when we see that put in action.
With the tragic war in Ukraine as a catalyst behind this decision, it's hard to feel entirely positive about this news - but it's undoubtedly a step in the right direction from a climate perspective.
Okay, hear us out. This doesn't sound like a positive story...and it's not - for the most part.
But there is some hope at the end, and it's a portion of environmental history everyone should know more about.
Specially designed panels could help solve the current problems with solar energy, by generating power once the sun has gone down.
The panels were discovered in 2020, when scientists at the University of California Davis, US, hit the mainstream.
Created by Professor Jeremy Munday and coined ‘anti-solar cells’, the solution allows us to harvest electricity from the night sky. Research conducted this year now confirms these nighttime solar panels produce enough energy to charge a mobile phone.
Positive environmental stories from March 2022
This is an extra brilliant story, because it also is helping save an endangered species too - the Andean huemul deer.
There are only 1,500 of them left in the world, and the Cerro Castillo National Park in Patagonia, Chile is home to many of these remaining deer.
This region has been protected by US billionaire Douglas Tompkins, also the founder of The North Face, who dedicated his fortune to conservation.
Solar and wind power can grow enough to limit global warming to 1.5C if the 10-year average growth rate of 20 per cent can be maintained to 2030, according to a new report.
Solar generation rose 23 per cent globally in 2021, while wind supply gained 14 per cent over the same period. Together, both renewable sources accounted for 10.3 per cent of total global electricity generation, up 1 per cent from 2020.
The Netherlands, Australia and Vietnam had the fastest growth rates for renewable sources.
"If these trends can be replicated globally, and sustained, the power sector would be on track for 1.5 degree goal," thinktank Ember said in its report.
With the largest percentage of forestland in Europe, Sweden is looking at new ways to incorporate trees into its architecture.
This wooden skyscraper in the city of Skelleftea is constructed from over 12,000 cubic metres of wood - and is capable of sequestering nine million kilograms of carbon dioxide throughout its lifetime.
Could this be 2022's greenest innovation yet?
Paulo Fanciulli has been fishing on the wild expanses of the Maremma coastline for over 40 years. In the late 1980s, he started to notice the signs of illegal trawling and decided to act.
So, the 'House of Fish' sculpture park was born with 39 sculptures made of local Carrera marble currently sunk to the bottom of the sea. They snag on the heavy nets used by illegal fishermen and encourage marine life back into the waters.
Abandoned by the circus, a family of four tigers spent years living in a cramped train carriage in Argentina. They'd never felt grass under their paws or walked on the earth.
After being discovered by authorities in 2021, a team of veterinarians and wildlife experts from Four Paws International spent months working to relocate them.
Now, after a 70 hour journey, they have arrived at their new home, LIONSROCK Big Cat Sanctuary in South Africa. Here they'll be the closest to their natural habitat they have been in years - maybe even for the first time.
Groundbreaking new legislation in Panama has granted nature the "right to exist, persist and regenerate its life cycles. It means parliament will now have to consider the impact of its laws and policies on the natural world.
The country now joins Colombia, New Zealand, Chile and Mexico which have granted nature legal protection, either through their constitutions or the court system.
Billionaires often have quite a bad reputation when it comes to climate change. But Mike Cannon-Brookes, the third richest person in Australia is trying to change that.
Frustrated with the Australian government's disregard for the climate, he is trying to buy three of the country's coal power plants. The aim is to do what the government won't by shutting them down for good and replacing them with renewable energy.
In what the UN Environment Agency has called "the most significant environmental deal since the Paris accord," government officials punched the air after they agreed to create the first global plastic pollution treaty.
The details of the final, legally binding pact are still being worked out but it could have big ripple effects on businesses and economies around the world. It is due to be finalised by 2024.
Positive environmental stories from February 2022
We're huge fans of Italian architect Stefano Boeri, and his latest project in China is yet another example of biophilic design at work.
The forest city will absorb around 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, while emitting approximately 10 tonnes of oxygen.
And the buildings are just stunning.
It's a lengthy headline, but bear with us. It turns out that if we zap banana peels with a powerful lamp, renewable energy is instantly generated.
This is a weird and wonderful discovery - our favourite kind at Euronews Green - and it can also be done with corn cobs, coffee beans and coconut shells.
The actor, former Republican politician and environmentalist has pledged to "terminate pollution."
While the green movement isn't short of celebrity backers, it's good to see support from both sides of the American political spectrum.
Positive environmental stories from January 2022
Although coral reefs all over the world have been damaged by rising sea temperatures, leading to wide-scale bleaching - it turns out these ghostly white tropical reefs seem to still remain rich sources of micronutrients.
This doesn't mean we should stop trying to prevent coral bleaching events, but it does mean that where the damage has been done, there is still some hope. This is particularly good news for the many coastal communities that rely on reefs for food.
There's a lot we can learn from Tallinn it turns out. The Estonian capital is set to be the European Green Capital for 2023, due to its innovative and modern approach to sustainability.
What's particularly impressive about Tallinn is that it used to be home to a number of heavily polluting industries. It's a shining example of how change is always possible, and hopefully a blueprint for other cities in Europe and beyond.
This is a good example of crisis leading to innovation. While the reason for the invention is still deeply troubling, the students behind this project have created something truly brilliant.
Their design is able to provide shelter for at least six weeks, and could be used as storage for food, water, medicine and sanitation products as part of resilience programmes.
There's something really compelling about any story to do with a species returning from the brink of extinction. While it's of course terrible that things reached a tipping point like this, it also goes to show that there is always hope - even when the worst possible outcome seems inevitable.
This particular case is fascinating. The tiny tequila splitfin disappeared from the wild in 2003 due to human activity, but thanks to the efforts of conservation centres, colonies of this little freshwater species are thriving once again.
While the climate crisis gets the most attention, the biodiversity crisis is something we should all be paying a lot more attention to. That's why this company's project, combining AI with drones, is so fantastic. It's a faster, cheaper way to tackle deforestation.
At the same time, however, it doesn't cause the issues often found with tree-planting schemes. The method is designed to boost the health of the surrounding ecosystem, while being careful to avoid monocrops and non-native species.
We were shocked to learn that (pre-pandemic) the global conference industry produced as much greenhouse gas emissions as the entirety of the United States. It's a seriously polluting sector, but a recent study has found that moving to more online-only and hybrid events could majorly benefit the planet.
According to the 2021 IPCC report, we have 8.3-9.7 years before we exceed the 1.5℃ global warming limit. But researchers say that moving conferences online could extend that deadline by around 1.5 years.
Diving in the waters off of Tahiti’s tropical coastline, marine researchers uncovered one of the largest coral reefs ever found. And, unlike many of its counterparts, it appears to be completely unaffected by human activity.
Although they occupy just 0.1 per cent of the ocean floor, coral reefs are home to a quarter of all marine life.
So it's easy to see why this is such excellent news.
This fantastic story fuses together two areas of interest for many of us in the climate movement: protecting nature and clean energy.
Our journalist Rosie Frost spoke with the amazing Swedish company behind the initiative to find out more.
We will be updating this article regularly, with the latest positive environmental stories and breakthroughs from around the world. If you spot a great idea we haven't covered, please let us know on Twitter or Instagram.