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Nature restoration, rewilding and battery innovations: Positive environmental stories from 2024

Przewalski's horses being released in Kazakhstan.
Przewalski's horses being released in Kazakhstan. Copyright Copyright Miroslav Bobek/Prague Zoo
Copyright Copyright Miroslav Bobek/Prague Zoo
By Angela SymonsEuronews Green
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Climate anxiety is very real, but these good news stories from 2024 prove there is hope for our planet.


Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread - as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot - and often feel them ourselves.

While there's a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate and nature crises, we must not lose hope - because hopelessness breeds apathy.

The media has an important role to play in combatting climate doom. It's our job to be truthful and accurate in our reporting, not trying to downplay or greenwash the situation. But it's also our job to show that there is hope.

In 2023, as part of our ongoing effort to tackle eco-anxiety (both that of our readers and our own), we kept track of all the positive environmental news throughout the year. We racked up over 200 stories of eco-innovation, green breakthroughs and climate wins - more than double the number in 2022 and a sure sign of momentum.

In 2024, we're confident the good news will keep on coming, as renewable power soars, vulnerable ecosystems gain rights, and climate protocols start to pay dividends.

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.

If you come across a great, positive story that we haven't covered here - please reach out to us on Instagram or X to share your ideas.

Positive environmental stories from June 2024

Clean energy: Portugal will begin building its largest wind farm early next year

A new wind farm in Portugal has obtained environmental approval from the government - and once built it will become the country’s largest. 

Renewable energy company Iberdrola will integrate the plant into the Tâmega pumped-storage hydro complex in northern Portugal.

The new wind farm will have a capacity of 274 MW, able to support the annual consumption of 128,000 homes.

‘A momentous day for nature’: EU approves first-of-its-kind law that could bring back biodiversity

After months of deliberations, the EU’s Nature Restoration Law has finally been approved.

The first-of-its-kind regulation aims to restore Europe’s damaged ecosystems and boost biodiversity.

Its goal is to restore at least 20 per cent of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, and all degraded ecosystems by 2050.

Rare wild horses back on Kazakhstan’s Golden Steppe after being saved from extinction

For the first time in at least 200 years, wild Przewalski's horses have returned to Kazakhstan’s Golden Steppe.

These are the last truly wild horses left on Earth whose habitats were wiped out by farming and other human activity.


Now, Prague Zoo has restored them to their original home in the plains of Central Asia.

‘The time of the whole car city is over’: How is Paris encouraging walking and cycling?

From big picnics to car-free days and new cycle lanes, Paris is speeding ahead with sustainable transport initiatives.

Paris now boasts more than 1,300 kilometres of bicycle lanes, 500 kilometres of which were rolled out between 2014 to 2020. 30 km worth of new lanes have been added both in and outside the city centre for the Olympics.

‘Install and forget’ soil-powered batteries could bring cheap, clean energy to farms in Europe

Bacteria-powered batteries could soon supply farms with cheap, sustainable energy.


UK startup Bactery draws on the electrons produced by bacteria in soil to harvest clean electricity from the earth.

Its soil-rechargeable batteries have the potential to work around the clock - and around the world.

Better preparation is preventing deaths despite worsening climate disasters, UN says

Climate disasters are getting worse, but fewer people are dying thanks to better warning systems and planning, says a top UN official.

"Fewer people are dying of disasters and if you look at that as a proportion of total population, it's even fewer," the new United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Kamal Kishore, head the UN's office for disaster risk reduction, said.


Positive environmental stories from May 2024

This Spanish city plans to turn its cemeteries into the country’s largest urban solar farm

A city in Spain is starting to use its cemeteries to generate renewable power. 

Valencia, on the east coast, aims to install thousands of solar panels in graveyards around the city. 

The project has been dubbed RIP - standing for Requiem in Power - and was launched this month with the first photovoltaic panels installed. 

Czechia is making textile recycling compulsory

EU countries generated an estimated 6.95 million tonnes of textile waste in 2020 or around 16kg annually per person.


Now, Czechia is leading Europe in tackling rather than contributing to the problem. The Ministry of the Environment announced plans to enforce compulsory textile waste collection from 2025.

Young, green and European: Meet the new generation of eco-activists running in the EU elections

A generation of young Europeans that became activists while still at school is now of age to take up positions in political office.

They have launched campaigns across Europe in order to protect and further climate protection policies amid backlash from right-leaning parties. 

Climate action will boost energy security in Europe by 8% by 2030, IMF Says

Efforts to meet Europe’s emission reduction targets led by industry and citizens will pay off according to an analysis published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which estimates the continent could improve energy security by 8% by 2030.


Higher carbon prices, energy efficiency and accelerated permitting for renewables were key policy areas identified by the Washington DC- based IMF to improve Europe’s energy security.

Belgium to champion citizen energy at ministerial summit

Belgium's energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten has made moves to secure inter-governmental recognition of the benefits of local energy cooperatives.

Energy communities are voluntary, cooperative schemes offering a local alternative to commercial energy companies, for instance through shared ownership of a wind turbine or solar array, helping to decentralise electricity production - and, advocates argue, reduce costs, fossil fuel dependence, and increase security of supply.

Member states green light new rules to slash methane emissions

EU countries have adopted first-ever rules to measure, report and verify methane emissions in the energy sector in a bid to slash the volume of these short-lived air pollutants, known to be up to 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).


Following an almost unanimous vote, opposed by Hungary, energy operators will need to comply, as of 2025, with new requirements to ensure mitigation measures, such as detecting and repairing methane leaks, and measuring emissions at source level.

Inside Japan's cat island where felines are worshipped at an altar and said to bring good luck

Tashirojima, off Japan's northeastern coast, is home to more than 100 cats, leaving space for only 50 humans.

Everything is built around their comfort, so you won't find any car rental shops, petrol stations or public transportation here. Tourists are expected to walk up and down the island's hills while visiting.

Most Dutch people cycle every week. How did the low country make it a national pastime?

In the Netherlands, countless initiatives have been devised to make sure that cycling is inclusive, not just for young people who have grown up with it.


And given that 64 per cent of the entire population cycle at least once a week, something is clearly working.

Good news for chocolate lovers as Swiss scientists find way to make the treat more sustainable

Scientists in Switzerland have invented a way to make chocolate healthier and more sustainable.

Typically, only cocoa beans and pulp are extracted for our chocolate bars. But researchers at the ETH Zurich federal technology institute have discovered that the cocoa pod husk can be used too, as a replacement for granulated sugar.

UK drivers could save over €150 and win prizes for giving up their cars next month - here’s how

Drivers in the UK who give up their car next month could save around €150 for their effort and even win a prize.


The initiative comes from Possible, a climate action charity based in London, which is seeking to prise motorists away from their vehicles with its ‘Going Car Free Challenge’ in June.

International ocean tribunal delivers ‘historic legal victory’ for small island nations

An international ocean court has just delivered a “historic” legal opinion outlining countries’ obligations in the face of climate change.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) - a UN court on maritime law - found that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions can be considered a marine pollutant. It said countries have a legal obligation to implement measures mitigating their effect on oceans.

Rewilding: How a herd of bison reintroduced to Romania is helping ‘supercharge’ carbon removal

170 European Bison reintroduced to Romania’s Țarcu mountains could help capture and store the carbon released by up to 84,000 average US petrol cars each year.


New research from Yale University, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, suggests these massive herbivores could have a role to play in mitigating the impact of climate change.

Free public transport in Montpellier has led to 20 per cent more journeys

Montpellier’s experiment with free public transport has been a success in its first few months, new figures show.

Journeys by public transport have increased by more than 20 per cent since the French city made buses and trams free for all residents five months ago

European cities are becoming climate CHAMPs. You could be one, too

A new acronym in the climate space is getting its sea legs after the United Nations climate talks in Dubai last year, COP28. And if you, too, want to be a “champ” for climate action and policy, then this one’s for you.


It’s called CHAMP, and it stands for the Coalition for High Ambition Multilevel Partnerships, with the primary focus on all things multilevel.

Renewables are meeting 95% of Portugal’s electricity needs. How did it become a European leader?

Portugal generated an ‘historic’ 95 per cent of its electricity from renewables in April, according to the network operator REN.

Renewable energy generation averaged just below that for the first four months of the year, covering 91 per cent of the nation’s power needs.

Fossil fuels generated less than a quarter of the EU's electricity in April

Fossil fuels provided less than a quarter of the EU’s energy for the first time in April.


The good news comes from energy think tank Ember which found that the proportion of electricity generated by fossil fuels in the bloc fell to a record low of 23 per cent last month - a sharp drop of 22 per cent compared to April 2023 despite an increase in demand. It also surpasses the previous record low of 27 per cent from May 2023.

'We will feed the world in 50 years': Scientists behind giant seed vault win World Food Prize

Two men who were instrumental in creating a global seed vault designed to safeguard the world's agricultural diversity will be honoured as the 2024 World Food Prize laureates.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded them for their “critical role in preserving crop diversity" at seed banks around the world.

More than 30% of world’s electricity now comes from renewables, report reveals

More than 30 per cent of the world’s electricity is now generated using renewables and the European Union is well ahead of this global average, a new report has found.


Energy think tank Ember found that major growth in wind and solar helped push global electricity production past this milestone in 2023.

In the European Court of Human Rights, we won a victory for generations

Tuesday, 9 April will go down in history as a milestone in the fight for a liveable future for all.

On that day, the European Court of Human Rights recognised the climate crisis as an existential threat to us all and confirmed that our leaders must act immediately to protect people of all ages from accelerating harm.

This ruling will be a crucial tool to pressure governments to reduce emissions, and activists are already taking to the streets to demand much stronger government action.


‘An amazing discovery’: Scientists hit upon first nursery for hammerhead sharks in the Galápagos

Scientists have discovered what could be the first known smooth hammerhead shark nursery in the Galápagos.

The vulnerable shark species - so-called for its elongated head which forms a straighter curve than the scalloped hammerhead - is rarely spotted in the marine reserve.

Battery costs have dropped 90% in under 15 years giving renewables a boost, new IEA report reveals

Battery costs have dropped by more than 90 per cent in the last 15 years, a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) reveals.

It’s one of the fastest declines ever seen among clean energy technologies, and provides hope that batteries can carry the world to its renewable energy goals.


Are humans a ‘keystone species’? This captivating new book rethinks our role in rewilding

Rewilding is often attached to the idea of “letting nature take care of itself”, with minimal human interference.

But is less human intervention always better? Or the most realistic approach on a 21st-century planet, home to 8.1 billion people?

Not necessarily. In some cases, a human touch can not only be helpful in designing rewilded ecosystems but also remain a vital part of them.

‘Deliberately ambitious’: Eurostar promises to power its trains with 100% renewable energy by 2030

Eurostar has promised to power its trains with 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.


The plan was laid out in the company’s first sustainability report. It details plans to reduce energy use, source renewable power, minimise waste and promote train travel as a greener alternative to flying.

Positive environmental stories from April 2024

Shuttered coal power plants can find a second life as clean energy hubs

Sites once occupied by coal-fired power stations are ideal locations for renewable generation and energy storage. In fact, it’s already happening, Eric Dresselhuys writes.

Activist who led grassroots campaign to save Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon wins ‘Green Nobel’

Teresa Vicente, 61, led a grassroots campaign to save Spain's Mar Menor from ecological collapse. Her efforts helped a new law to be passed in 2022, giving the lagoon the legal right to conservation, protection and damage remediation.

Vicente is one of this year's seven winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize, known as the 'Green Nobel'.


MEPs approve law to reduce growing stream of packaging waste

MEPs have adopted a new Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) described as one of the most lobbied files to pass through the assembly in recent years.

The new law - backed by 476 lawmakers drawn from across the mainstream parties, with 129 voting against and 24 abstaining - stipulates that the annual average of nearly 190kg of wrappers, boxes, bottles, cartons and cans discarded generated annually by every EU citizen should be cut by 5 per cent to 2030.

High Seas Treaty: EU votes to ratify landmark international law to protect oceans

The European Union has voted in favour of ratifying the High Seas Treaty.

This treaty aims to protect marine life in areas that are outside of countries’ maritime borders including the high seas and the seabed.


The decision is a key step in the process of approving the ratification of the High Seas Treaty.

Low emissions traffic schemes linked to cleaner air

Cities introducing low emissions zones have cleaner air than those without, according to preliminary research by health insurers comparing Belgian cities Antwerp, Brussels and Ghent with other cities.

The findings were announced in Brussels on April 23 during an event on clean cities organised in association with Belgium's presidency of the EU Council ahead of a key vote at the European Parliament tomorrow on the Air and Ambient Quality Directive (AAQD).

Biden's Earth Day pledge: Rooftop solar grants could save US households over €300 million a year

President Joe Biden marked Earth Day by announcing $7 billion (€6.6 billion) in federal grants for residential solar projects serving 900,000-plus households in low- and middle-income communities.


Nature has become an official Spotify artist to raise money for conservation

You can now listen to ‘Nature’ on all major music streaming platforms.

From Pink Floyd to the Beatles, natural sounds have been enhancing music forever.

A new initiative will recognise nature as an official artist meaning singers, songwriters and bands who use these sounds can choose to add it as a featured artist. Some of their profits from streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music will then be shared with environmental causes.

Solar balconies are booming in Germany. Here’s what you need to know about the popular home tech

More than 400,000 plug-in solar systems have been installed in Germany, most of them taking up a seamless spot on people’s balconies.


New data shows at least 50,000 of the PV devices were added in the first quarter of 2024 alone. A boom born from Germany’s “very strong solar culture”, in the words of one expert.

Two countries in Europe are powered by 100% renewable energy as wind capacity soars

Last year was the best year on record for new wind energy installation.

The world installed 116 gigawatts of new wind power capacity in 2023, according to the latest Global Wind Report from industry trade association the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). That is a 50 per cent increase from 2022 making it the best year on record for new wind projects.

Greece becomes the first country in Europe to ban bottom trawling in marine protected areas

Greece will ban bottom trawling in all of its marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2030, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on 16 April.


The country also aims to create two large marine parks as part of a €780 million program to protect biodiversity and marine ecosystems

Cycling is now more popular than driving in the centre of Paris, study finds

More people now travel by bike than by car in the centre of Paris, according to a new report.

The study by urban planning agency Institut Paris Region (IPR) found that Parisians use bicycles for 11.2 per cent of their trips inside the city centre whereas people use cars for just 4.3 per cent of journeys.

New US limits on toxic forever chemicals in drinking water expected to save thousands of lives


The USA has placed the first ever federal limits on toxic 'forever chemicals' in drinking water.

The rule, finalised by the Biden administration on Wednesday 10 April, requires utilities to reduce the chemicals to the lowest level they can be reliably measured.

Officials say this will reduce exposure for 100 million people and help prevent thousands of illnesses, including cancers.

‘Historic’ European Court of Human Rights ruling backs Swiss women in climate change case

In a landmark decision, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has today ruled that government inaction on climate change violates fundamental human rights.


The right to respect for one’s private and family life is the main legal basis through which the court has previous ruled on environmental cases, but this decision is “historic” regarding the climate crisis, observers say.

The case was brought by an association of older Swiss women concerned about the impact of global warming on their health. They claimed that the Swiss government is not taking enough action.

How does subscription solar work? This Spanish company instals panels with no upfront investment

Born in New York and raised in Amsterdam, 29-year-old Wouter Draijer is CEO and co-founder of SolarMente - a company aiming to change the way people consume and distribute energy in Spain.

Its subscription service allows homeowners and businesses to install solar panels with no upfront cost - a model that has attracted investment from Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio and US technology startup accelerator Y Combinator.


Cycling Declaration hailed as ‘historic’ moment for Europe

Cycling is “one of the most sustainable, healthy and efficient” ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions, EU governments have agreed. They have committed to build more cycle lanes and secure parking places, improve safety for riders, and promote schemes to encourage a switch from four wheels to two.

Deutsche Bahn has stopped using domestic flights to send letters due to climate change

Domestic flights will no longer be used to transport letters by Germany’s national postal carrier.

The move from Deutsche Post reflects the declining significance of letter mail and allows it to improve its climate footprint.

Positive environmental stories from March 2024

‘I want to tackle it in a big way’: Meet the Nigerian women spearheading solar projects

More children die from air pollution - mainly inside the home - in Nigeria than in any other African country. 32-year-old green energy entrepreneur Yetunde Fadeyi made it her life’s calling to end the energy poverty causing such deaths.


After a childhood in Lagos plagued by intermittent electricity, a degree in chemistry and training in solar panel installation, Fadeyi started Renewable Energy and Environmental Sustainability (REES). The non-profit is dedicated to climate advocacy and providing clean energy to poor communities in rural Nigeria.

Meet the companies creating a ‘city of the future’ inside Berlin’s Tegel Airport

With companies starting to realise that climate change isn’t going away, more are working together to bring green solutions to the table

One such solution comes from Heat Storage Berlin, a German company that’s on a mission to store surplus renewable energy as heat. “This allows us to supply entire industries such as breweries or the paper industry with steam, using sustainable energies,” founder and CEO Ulrich Prochaska tells Euronews Green.

‘A minimally intrusive solution for urban cooling’: This paint could make cities feel 1.5C cooler

Cool paint coatings could help cities feel up to 1.5C cooler, a new study has found.


Using paint to counter the ‘urban heat island’ effect is nothing new, but this real-world experiment showed just how impactful it can be.

Building new wind and solar projects is getting harder but this German village could have the answer

Sprakebuell is something of a model village for the energy transition - with an above-average number of electric cars, a community wind farm and renewable heat from biogas.

Small as it is, the German town offers lessons that could resonate globally.

Coffee grounds might be the answer to agricultural contamination

An estimated six million tonnes of used coffee grounds are created annually. Most go to landfill, generating methane and CO2, or are incinerated for energy.


But a new study in the Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology suggests that used coffee could hold the key to a pressing environmental problem: agricultural contamination.

Over half of European voters think climate action is a priority, exclusive Euronews poll reveals

More than half of European voters believe the fight against climate change is a priority, according to an exclusive Euronews-Ipsos poll.

In the first pan-European survey of its kind ahead of the European elections in June, 25,916 people across 18 countries were interviewed about a range of issues. These countries together represent 96 per cent of the EU population.


Manchester City is planning to install almost 11,000 solar panels on the roof of its training ground

Manchester City is planning a solar project that it believes would make it one of the largest producers of renewable energy in world football.

The Premier League Champions are seeking planning permission from Manchester City Council to install 10,887 solar panels on their training facility and the Joie Stadium.

Danish company building massive solar farm in Arizona desert

Deep in the Arizona desert, a Danish company is building a massive solar farm that includes batteries that charge when the sun is shining and supply energy back to the electric grid when it's not.

“Solar farms only produce when the sun shines, and the turbines only produce when the wind blows,” said Ørsted CEO Mads Nipper. “For us to maximise the availability of the green power, 24-7, we have to store some of it too.”


Governments agree packaging waste law despite international trade concerns

Belgium, current holder of the rotating EU Council presidency, has forged agreement between governments over new rules to tackle the growing problem of discarded packaging materials, overcoming the European Commission's concerns over trade diplomacy.

National diplomats have endorsed a new European law on packaging waste, including provisions that would hold overseas producers to EU environmental standards on plastic recycling at the risk of losing market access.

Germany's emissions fell by record 10.1% in 2023

Germany's greenhouse gas emissions dropped by one-tenth last year, thanks to its investment in renewables and high energy prices which may have driven down demand.

Europe's biggest economy is trying to cut its emissions by 65 per cent, compared with 1990, by 2030. These latest stats put it on track to reach a cut of almost 64 per cent by that date.


From four walls to four wheels: How we live sustainably, from electricity use to food waste

After buying a second hand van last summer, we spent five months converting it into a cottage on wheels.

Doing van life sustainably started with our build, where we repurposed materials, opted for hemp insulation, and used reclaimed wood for interiors. Choosing solar power over gas, we designed the van for winters in southern Europe and summers in the north to minimise our environmental impact.

Some people are surprised to hear that our carbon footprint is now about a third lower than before.

Governments' climate policies tackling deforestation and nature double in 12 months, study finds

Nature-based policies from governments around the world have doubled over the last 12 months, a new study has found.


The report looked at 300 different policies around the world and found that around half of global emissions reductions by 2035 are likely to come from those aimed at ending deforestation, reducing food waste, restoring ecosystems, lowering agricultural emissions and rolling out nature-based climate solutions.

Staff at wildlife centre dress up as a mother fox to save abandoned cub

Employees of the Richmond Wildlife Center in Virginia are doing their best to act like mother foxes as they feed and care for an orphaned kit that found her way into their care.

In a bid to make this as natural as possible, they had to get a little bit creative.

Executive director Melissa Stanley took the unorthodox step of donning a hyper realistic fox mask while feeding the tiny kit from a syringe.


‘A beautiful idea’: This French town is making its cemetery a source of solar energy

A French town is installing a canopy of solar panels over its cemetery that will distribute energy to local residents.

In the town of around 4,000 people, some 420 residents have officially registered their interest in joining the project. For an entry fee of just €5, they will eventually have a share in the energy it produces.

MEPs back law aimed at restoring European soil to health

The European Parliament’s environment committee has backed a proposal for mandatory monitoring and remedial measures with a view to restoring an estimated two-thirds of soils that are in poor health, jeopardising biodiversity and future food production.

Polluting private jets could face a 400% fuel tax increase under new Biden proposal

US President Joe Biden is proposing a huge increase in fuel taxes for private jets. It is being pitched as a fairness issue compared with airline passengers, who pay special taxes on every ticket.


Raising fuel taxes for private jets could not only improve fairness in air travel, it could also discourage use of the polluting transport.

Can you fit a heat pump in an apartment? New York is testing new window-mounted tech for renters

For 27 years, the heat in Regina Fred's Queens apartment building came from a noisy steam radiator that she couldn't control.

Sometimes it didn't come on at all, leaving her shivering. Sometimes, the radiators ran so hot that residents had to keep their windows open in the middle of winter for relief.

That all changed a few months ago when she got a window-mounted heat pump as part of a pilot project by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) aimed at cutting energy costs and lowering emissions.


French bill proposes crackdown on throwaway culture of ultra fast fashion

Fast fashion adverts could soon be banned in France under a new proposal to crack down on the polluting industry.

The bill, tabled by MP Anne-Cécile Violland, also seeks to impose penalties on low-cost clothing to cover its environmental impact.

'A very special day’: Birds linked to Darwin’s theory of evolution reintroduced to Galapagos Islands

A flock of finches, the birds famously studied by Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution, have been reintroduced to an area of the Galapagos Islands.

Since 2023 experts have been working to eradicate introduced species which have caused the disappearance of numerous native species, paving the way for ecological restoration.


"This is a very special day,” says Eliécer Cruz, Spokesman for the Jocotoco Conservation Foundation.

Community wind turbines and heat pumps could be a win-win against fuel poverty and climate change

Wind power and heat pumps are obvious assets in the fight against fossil-fuelled climate change. But have you ever considered how well the two might work together?

A new report from UK climate action charity Possible has done exactly that - and found they’re not only a match, but one capable of cutting energy bills by a third.

Clean energy tech slowed down growth of global carbon emissions in 2023, IEA says


Without clean energy technology, global carbon emissions in the last five years would have been three times larger, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Global carbon dioxide emissions still reached a record high in 2023. But the new analysis found that growth in clean sources had led to a “structural slowdown” in energy-related emissions.

Even as energy demand increased, the expansion of solar, wind and nuclear power helped the world to avoid even greater use of fossil fuels last year.

The good foresters: Inside the Gabonese rainforest supplying Amsterdam’s lock gates

Lock gates have always been an essential part of Amsterdam. It only became liveable when the River Amstel was dammed to hold back the salty waters of the IJ.


Now the city has 200 sets of mainly wooden lock gates, offering an increasingly important defence as sea levels rise.

These fine pieces of woodwork come from a far more distant source than the 12th century fisherman who made Amsterdam’s first lock could have dreamed of: the Congo Basin.

Positive environmental stories from February 2024

‘Revolutionary’: EU Parliament votes to criminalise most serious cases of ecosystem destruction

The European Union has become the first international body to criminalise the most serious cases of environmental damage that are “comparable to ecocide”.


Ecosystem destruction, including habitat loss and illegal logging, will be punished with tougher penalties and prison sentences under the EU’s updated environmental crime directive.

Spain’s plan to ban domestic flights where you can take a train in under two and half hours

Spain is banning some short-haul domestic flights as part of its plan to reduce carbon emissions.

Flights with a rail alternative that takes less than two and a half hours will no longer be allowed, “except in cases of connection with hub airports that link with international routes”.

Cars powered by woodchips: Biographite makes EV batteries sustainable

A company in New Zealand is turning discarded woodchips into synthetic graphite that can be used in EV batteries.


CarbonScape makes ‘biographite’ by heating byproducts from the forestry industry using a process called thermo-catalytic graphitisation.

This produces charcoal, which can be catalysed and purified into battery anode-quality graphite.

Is green hydrogen the future of heating? Inside the first EU school with a clean hydrogen boiler

The public high school of Antonio Meucci in Carpi looks much like any other in Europe: a hub of students eagerly awaiting lunch breaks, professors navigating peaks of motivation and resignation, while janitors run the halls.

But tucked away in a distant corner of the schoolyard, a mysterious fenced structure emerges from the trees. Accessible only to specialised technicians, a panel on the structure hints at its purpose: H2 Hydrogen.


This building contains the first green-hydrogen-powered boiler to heat an EU educational site, and it has zero emissions potential.

India looks to rooftop solar to provide ‘free electricity’ for up to 10 million homes

Just a few years ago, someone who wanted to install a rooftop solar connection in India faced getting multiple approvals, finding a reliable company to install the panels and heavy expenses before seeing the first surge of clean energy.

But that's changing. The government has streamlined the approvals process, made it easier for people to claim subsidies and pushed mountains of cash - including $9 billion (€8.3 billion) announced this month - to encourage faster adoption of technology that's seen as critical for India to reach its clean-energy goals.

EU Parliament, member states clinch air pollution deal

Lawmakers reached a deal to further curtail air pollution across the EU and align air quality standards with the World Health Organization (WHO) in a bid to reach zero pollution by 2050, during inter-institutional negotiations in Brussels.


A 4,000-year-old olive and a weeping beech: The 2024 finalists for European Tree of the Year revealed

In a world full of division, anger and heartbreak it’s cathartic to have something uncontroversial that we can all sit back and admire.

That’s what the European Tree of the Year gives us.

Since 2011 the competition has brought together a selection of the most unique and beautiful trees from across the continent.

Barclays drops funding for new oil and gas fields. How do other big European banks compare?

Barclays has announced that it will no longer fund new oil and gas fields, in a “massive win” for the climate campaigners who have been urging it to stop for years.


The British bank is the second biggest funder of fossil fuels in Europe, having been overtaken by French-based multinational BNP Paribas in 2022.

European ‘Godfathers of wind’ jointly win the ‘Nobel prize’ of engineering

The winners of the “Nobel prize of engineering” have been announced - and they are two European pioneers of wind energy.

Danish Henrik Stiesdal and British Andrew Garrad - often referred to as the ‘Godfathers of wind’ - share this year’s Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, as a recognition of their critical contributions to the development of wind power.


New dinosaur-like reptile discovered in Scotland after bones found on field trip

A new dinosaur-like species has been uncovered in Scotland, giving palaeontologists a precious insight into animal life in the Middle Jurassic.

Researchers from the UK’s Natural History Museum first noticed a few bones sticking out of a boulder during a field trip to the Isle of Skye in 2006. That fossil has now been revealed as a new species of pterosaur, named ‘Ceoptera evansae’.

Let sleeping bears lie: Photo of snoozing polar bear wins prestigious wildlife photography award

A photo of a young polar bear napping on an iceberg has been handed the Wildlife Photographer of the Year People's Choice Award.

Nima Sarikhani's striking Ice Bed, captured off Norway's Svalbard archipelago, is a poignant visual reminder of how fast the ice caps are melting due to rising temperatures.


The winner said that while climate change is the “biggest challenge we face”, he hopes the photo inspires hope.

This disused mine in Finland is being turned into a gravity battery to store renewable energy

One of Europe’s deepest mines is being transformed into an underground energy store. It will use gravity to retain excess power for when it is needed.

The remote Finnish community of Pyhäjärvi is 450 kilometres north of Helsinki. Its more than 1,400-metre-deep zinc and copper Pyhäsalmi mine was decommissioned but is now being given a new lease of life by Scotland-based company Gravitricity.

Pedal power: This climate change play in Lithuania is activated using exercise bikes

Next time you hit the gym or jump on your exercise bike, take inspiration from the fact you could be powering a work of art.


While chances are you’re the only one feeling the fitness benefits, a new tech and theatre partnership is proving that anything is possible.

Two specially created exercise bikes powered an entire play in the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre last weekend.

Ireland on track for €225m climate finance target - what can other European countries learn?

Ireland is set to meet its pledge of providing €225 million in climate finance per year to poorer nations by 2025.

Tánaiste (deputy prime minister of the Republic) Micheál Martin shared the positive news with the publication of Ireland’s climate and environmental finance report for 2022.


Crabs turned this marshland into ‘Swiss cheese’ - until sea otters arrived to keep them in check

California's collapsing marshlands have found an unlikely saviour in hungry sea otters.

The return of otters and their voracious appetites could halt one of the biggest causes of erosion, a new study shows.

Sea otters eat constantly and one of their favourite snacks is the striped shore crab. These crabs dig burrows and also nibble away roots of the marsh grass pickleweed that holds dirt in place.

Positive environmental stories from January 2024

How green is Switzerland? From people power to water batteries, here’s how the Davos host levels up

Climate change was one of the issues at the top of the list for discussion during the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.


From climate referendums to renewable energy, we took a look at the green credentials of the country where the global get-together was held.

‘Enormous potential’: Inside Scotland’s green strategy to power the nation solely with renewables

Renewable power sources generated enough energy to meet 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2022, recently released government data shows.

Green energy such as wind and hydro generated the equivalent of 113 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption.

This was 26 per cent more than in 2021.


Denmark enlists 10 more in push for 'ambitious' climate target

Heavyweights Germany, France and Spain are among 10 member states that have joined Denmark in calling for a 2040 emissions reduction target. This is in line with the advice of EU scientists who say net greenhouse gas output must be slashed to no more than a tenth of 1990 levels.

Denmark is the only country so far to have explicitly endorsed a 90 per cent net reduction target, which equates to a seven-fold reduction from current levels over the next sixteen years.

Inside the Amazon’s tallest treehouse, where Peruvians are taught to combat deforestation with tech

From a classroom in the Amazon's tallest treehouse, young Peruvians are learning how to defend their rainforest home.

Nestled in the crown of a strangler fig tree, the rangers have a bird’s eye view over the canopy.


It’s an education in itself, says Juan Julio (JJ) Durand, vice president of Junglekeepers - a nonprofit which conserves threatened habitat in the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region of Peru’s Amazon.

First successful embryo transfer using IVF in rhinos could save species from extinction

Scientists hope that the first pregnancy of a rhinoceros after an embryo transfer could pave the way to save the nearly extinct northern white rhino subspecies.

The method was tested in another rhino subspecies, with researchers successfully creating a southern white rhino embryo in a lab.

Scientists and veterinarians transferred two southern white rhino embryos into a surrogate mother at a conservancy in Kenya and confirmed a pregnancy of 70 days.


New food labels to identify Belgian producers that ‘go the extra mile’ with animal welfare

An area of Belgium will soon have new animal-friendly labels on food products.

In Flanders, a Dutch-speaking area in the country's north, packaging will come with information about animal production standards.

The new label, called Beter voor Dieren (Better for Animals), will identify products whose companies have followed ethical procedures when raising animals used for human consumption.

Plastic bag bans work: New study finds they save 6 billion bags a year in some US states

Single-use plastic bag bans have successfully reduced plastic bag use and associated litter and pollution, a new study has found.


Bans in five US states and cities with a combined population of around 12 million people have cut single-use plastic bag consumption by about 6 billion bags per year, according to the research.

Adopting a ban that’s similar to the policies in these places could eliminate roughly 300 single-use plastic bags per person per year, according to the report.

High Seas Treaty: Palau and Chile first countries to ratify deal to protect international waters

Chile and Palau have become the first two countries to ratify a landmark UN treaty for the protection of the high seas.

The UN’s High Seas Treaty was adopted last year after almost 20 years of negotiations. More than 80 countries have so far signed it but need to ratify it to be bound by it.


The treaty would become the world’s first international law to mandate the conservation and management of marine life in areas beyond countries’ national jurisdictions.

‘Be an actionist’: An environmental trailblazer’s inspiring message to climate activists from Davos

From being a kid trapped in a storm to walking the halls of power, 31-year-old David Saddington’s life has been shaped by the course of climate change and climate action in the UK.

“It was already clear in 2005 that this issue of ‘climate change’ was going to affect my life and generations to come,” he tells Euronews Green from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos. “So I took it upon myself to make a noise in my school.”

But his fledgling climate activism took an unusual turn when he was invited to Downing Street at 14, to discuss the issue with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. He asked the PM to put climate change on the national curriculum - a measure adopted in 2007.


European Green Capital 2024: What does Valencia have planned for its year in the limelight?

The greenest city in Europe has officially upped sticks from the Baltic shores of Estonia to the Spanish Mediterranean.

Valencia took over as European Green Capital from Tallinn in a ceremony last week, kickstarting more than 400 sustainable events in 2024.

“Valencia has earned the Green Capital title because of its ambitious sustainability strategy, and it has learned from lessons in the past,” says EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.

‘Unique biodiversity’: Scientists discover four new species of octopus off the coast of Costa Rica

Scientists have discovered at least four new octopus species in a roughly 260-kilometre square area off the coast of Costa Rica.


“Through hard work, our team discovered new hydrothermal springs offshore [of] Costa Rica and confirmed that they host nurseries of deep-sea octopus and unique biodiversity,” says Dr Beth Orcutt from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences who co-led the expeditions on the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor (too).

Poland’s new government commits to join EU 'fight' against climate change

The return to power of Polish prime minister Donald Tusk could see one of Europe's least enthusiastic supporters of climate action in recent years throw its weight behind a radical new 2040 emissions reduction target.

Poland’s new government has promised a new coal phase-out date as it signalled support for a 90 per cent reduction in net greenhouse gas output across the EU by 2040.

Chicken bones ground into paste could help cut food waste and emissions

Food scientists have found a way to make chicken nuggets and fish cakes out of otherwise discarded bones and hard tissues.


The idea is to reduce food waste and carbon emissions from animal agriculture, by getting more mileage out of the meat, thereby requiring fewer animals to be farmed for the same output.

'Spectacular' growth in renewables in 2023 keeps COP28 pledge within reach, says IEA

Global renewable energy capacity grew by the fastest pace in the last 20 years in 2023, which could put the world within reach of meeting a key climate target by the end of the decade, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA).

The Paris-based agency said rapid growth of solar in China was the main driver as the world added nearly 510 gigawatts - enough to power nearly 51 million homes for a year - with Europe, the United States and Brazil also seeing record growth.

Indoor solar power: These cells can harvest energy from any light source for battery-free devices

Solar cells that work in low light could help your devices go battery-free.


California-based company Ambient Photonics has been working on indoor solar cells since 2019, improving the performance and price of this emerging technology.

The cells can be ‘printed’ in almost any size and shape for use on everyday devices such as remote controls and wireless keyboards, potentially removing the need for batteries and decreasing the size and weight of electronics.

'Historic win for animals': South Korea bans sale and production of dog meat

South Korea’s parliament has passed a landmark ban on the production and sale of dog meat.

Although only a small minority of people still consume dog meat in South Korea, the ancient practise has been the subject of sharp criticism from foreign media and animal rights advocates. In recent years, the country’s younger generations have joined calls to ban it.


On Tuesday 9 January, parliament heeded their calls.

Cigarette recycling: Slovakia is transforming filters into asphalt for roads

Bratislava is pioneering a new way to recycle cigarette butts.

The Slovakian capital’s municipal waste management company announced a new push to collect and reuse discarded cigarettes in 2024.

During the city’s Christmas markets, the group trialled special containers designed to collect both standard cigarette filters and those found in modern heated tobacco devices like vapes.


The city plans to use the discarded material to create asphalt for roads.

Heat pumps will be allowed on historic buildings under new UK rules

The UK government has announced it will relax planning rules on protected buildings in England to allow the installation of heat pumps and solar panels.

The measures are part of wider efforts to reach net zero targets.

France implements compulsory composting. Here’s how it will help slash emissions

As of 1 January 2024, organic waste recycling is mandatory in France under new 'compost obligatoire' rules.


With support from the government’s Green Fund, municipalities must provide residents with ways to sort bio-waste, which includes food scraps, vegetable peels, expired food and garden waste.

Food waste is responsible for about 16 per cent of the total emissions from the EU food system, according to the European Commission.

Our favourite positive environmental story from 2023

The richest country in Europe is celebrating three years of free public transport

If you've been living in the tiny EU state of Luxembourg you will already have had access to free public transport for the last three years.

Unsurprisingly on the anniversary of this novel and seemingly very expensive public initiative, almost everyone who uses trams, buses and trains in the tiny EU state says they're happy with it.


"Since it's free, it's easier to make a decision quickly, to choose between public transport or a private car. This means that it is very positive for the environment and practical," one man said whilst using the tram in Luxembourg City.

For more good news on the environment from last year, check out all of Euronews Green's positive environmental stories from 2023.

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