A Sustainability Haka, a Tale of Two Cities and more in This Week in Sustainability


We have much to applaud This Week in Sustainability.

The Kiwis set the bar for industrialized nations to go carbon neutral, while the high courts in the UK say its not ok to ban the Extinction Rebellion.  

The English city of Bristol banned diesel vehicles, Ann Arbor sticks it to Trump with a commitment to addressing the #ClimateCrisis, IKEA’s Christmas menu goes vegan, and, after years of dedicated service, the amazing Elizabeth May steps down as leader of the Green Party in Canada.

This, and more, in This Week in Sustainability

New Zealand to go carbon neutral by 2050

This week, the fine folks of New Zealand cheered as their wonderous Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern and her government declared the country will become carbon neutral by 2050.

Is it me, or is it’s like the Kiwis are just sitting around figuring out how to be the best at all things sustainable?

Don’t believe me?

In the sustainability equivalent of an All Blacks Haka (aka laying down the challenge albeit more happily delivered than in the ruby version), check out Ardern as she lists her government’s accomplishments in just two minutes.

Note for any conservative readers who think all this great policy may be economically troubling, there are a couple things you need to know about this amazing little country.

Sustainability makes happier economic sense

New Zealand has enjoyed better GDP growth than the US this year and in many other years in previous decades.

The median Kiwi income is about the same as for Americans (though the average is much less because they have better income distribution).  

The national government has a much lower debt and deficit per capita than most countries, including the USA.  And the Kiwis are demonstrably happier than most in the world, including again, the folks in the USA.

Fracking banned in UK

In one of the single biggest news items this week, fracking for natural gas was halted in the UK.

This, proclaimed the Guardian, is a watershed moment for environmentalists and community activists.

#ClimateCrisis an existential threat? UK Government: Not yet

Who wasn’t thrilled to read the government’s announcement that after a new scientific study, ‘it was not possible to rule out the “unacceptable” consequences’ of fracking.”

Yes! The UK government is getting it climate right, finally.

But then I finished reading the announcement.

The ban was being put in place, not because unearthing more carbon is bad, but because, “It was not possible to predict the magnitude of earthquakes fracking might trigger.”


Fracking is being banned, it would seem, because a bit of china shaking from a few selves is a more acceptable reason to leave fossil fuels in the ground than the world being on fire. We wouldnt want to admit such a thing now would we?

But never mind. I am not so cynical to say cheering is not in order. We need to take the wins where we can get them.

So let’s give a long and loud shout out to the Brit communities, activists, and environmentalists who have been campaigning valiantly to stop fracking for many years.

Celebratory pints all around.

Extinction Rebellion ban reversed in high courts

Also this week in the UK, the high courts ruled that the unprecedented London-wide ban on Extinction Rebellion protests last month was unlawful.

The ban was imposed October 14 as the non-violent Extinction Rebellion movement’s two-week international action to block traffic and otherwise bring attention to government inaction on the #ClimateCrisis began to take hold.

The police, the finding reads, can limit how and sometimes where protestors can protest, but cannot ban them altogether.

For more information on the @ExtinctionRebellion you can listen to a Sustainable Century Podcast featuring Dr. Gail Bradbrook one of the movement’s co-founders. She is outstanding!

The good news bad news, new climate study

A group of 11,000 scientists worldwide created a stir this week by endorsing research reaffirming what we have known all along: the world is facing a climate emergency.

That is the continuing bad news.

The good news is how this study differs from the other nightmarish reports.

The researchers not only present all those ‘keep-you-up-late-at-night’ graphics. They also show six areas where we can plausibly make a difference, and maybe, just maybe limit climate damage to something less than entirely insufferable for human life.

Six ways to combat the #ClimateCrisis…..

The (clearly editorialized) actions include:

Energy: Tax/ price fossil fuels so hard Exxon and friends noses’ bleed. Subsidize the hell out of renewables.

Short-lived pollutants:  Ban use of methane, hydrofluorocarbons and etc. by 50%, yesterday.

Nature: Conserve/ restore forests, grasslands, and mangroves. They suck up CO2 like nothing else. Force car companies who always seem to run their adverts in glorious natural settings to pay for it. The want it, they should pay for it.

Food: Tax meat consumption to pay for restoration of forests and grasslands. They caused most of the problems there so why not? Also, fine sinners who waste food (that’s you chain restaurants and food stores).

Economy:  Shame consumerism, promote naturalism in religion/ spirituality, make billionaires (figuratively) go extinct. Forget their arguments: we don’t need even a tenth of the garbage they generate in the name of social and economic value creation.

Population: Incentivize very, very small families, and allow immigration to flow to developing countries where we old folks are starting to retire in droves.

For the more academic and diplomatic rendition of this list, see the full study at BioScience.

Elizabeth May leader of Canada’s Greens calls it quits

Just as the Green Party finally got a toe into the Canadian parliamentry door, its leader, Elizabeth May calls it quits.

She has been leader of the Greens since 2006 and was the very first Green elected to the national parliament in 2011.

In the October 21st national election this year, May was reelected and the party won two other seats for its first multiple seat election win.

As past director of the Sierra Club of Canada, May has been an officer of the Order of Canada since 2005, was named by the United Nations as one of the leading women environmentalists worldwide, and in 2010, Newsweek named her one of the world’s most influential women.

What No Turkey? Ikea UK’s Christmas menu goes vegan

On the heels of this year’s meatless market splash by Impossible Foods, Ikea UK has decided to go veagn for its traditional Christmas menu this year.

In its stead, the company will offer a vegetarian brie and cranberry tart, as well as a vegan root vegetable tart tatin. I am not sure exactly what that is, but it sounds tasty and the picture below looks great!

The move to celebrate meat-free says the company, ‘aims to offer more planet-friendly and sustainable meals, at a low price.’

IKEA’s decision also reflects trends across the chain restaurant scene, where vegetarian and vegan menu offers are growing. Check out PETA’s top ten chains with notable vegan options.

Don’t like chains but don’t know where to go for great vegan/veg options?  

@ChooseVeg has a good and recent review of vegan restaurant locator apps.

I’ve used one, @HappyCow, and have never been dissatisfied, even in places as distant as Ha Giang in northern Vietnam (where I was introduced to the app!).

PS….Want some context on meatless meat? Check out a great Vox article calling out the myths of plant-based meat as hyper-processed junk food. Or go to @VegNews for all the vegan news your heart desires.

Stand and applaud Bristol: it banned a fossil fuel

The south western English city of Bristol, was once known as Brycgstow or “the place at the bridge” , banned diesel cars on its streets this week.

Its the first city to do so in England. This is a great thing.

But like the UK government halt on fracking, the reason for the ban is a bit of a let-down. It’s not, it turns out, about the use of fossil fuel per se.

Its all about the stuff you can see

Rather, it’s all about particulate matter, or pollution you can see.

Diesel’s sin: it has higher NOx and particulate matter emissions than gas. Gas apparently pollutes more, but you can’t see it.

This proves once again the old adage, you can’t ban what you can’t see.

Add red dye to gas, and see what happenes then

Ok, I just made that adage up. But it seems to be true.

So why not mandate putting non-toxic, non-polluting red dye in diesel and gas? Who wants to see blood in the streets?

Anyhow, good on you Bristolians, your precedent is like your name, a bridge other cities can cross to justify banning nasty fuels for themselves.

PS – Diesel, it turns out, has more energy per liter than gas. This makes diesel cars more ‘efficient.’ It also contains no lead, and emissions of regulated pollutants (carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides) are lower than gas (at least for those cars without a catalyst).

My question: why ban diesel and not gas? I think we all know the answer to that.

The City of Ann Arbor declares a climate emergency

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ever warmer, plastic-choked pond, the City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan voted unanimously to declare a climate emergency, laying out a series of carbon-reduction measures to 2030. 

This on its own is fantastic news. Congrats Ann Arborites.

But wait there is more…..

In a wonderful twist of satirical irony, Ann Arbor is the home of the Environmental Protection Agency vehicle emissions lab, which, as with all things EPA including vehicle emision standards, is under attack from Trump.

I am definitively sure, EPA employees and not just Ann Arborites are cheering the news. They are ture winners in the fight against the #ClimateCrisis!

Courage and love to the Anne Arbor City Council! @A2GOV

Pass the rollies, this smoke is on Delhi

Each day breathing in Delhi’s air this past week has the health impacts equivalent of smoking  25 cigarettes.

Cars and the burning of the dry remains of last year’s crops in the areas surrounding the city are said to be at fault.

Outstanding and not in a good way…

Said one public health official, We’re exceeding the measurement capabilities” of some of our pollution particle sensors. 

Authorities have declared a public-health emergency, ordering the closure of schools. At least five million masks have been distributed to protect the young and old.

And up go the costs of #ClimateCrisis.

The Last Word in Sustainability This Week

One more lane will change it….

Signs of Change

A shout out to the Chicago Teachers’ Union (@CTULocal1) who love their students, educators, and the environment.

This week they announced a settlement negotiated with the mayor and school authorities to help Friday for Future kids and educators make up for time on the streets.  

A true sign of change.

Let us know what’s news….

As always, if you want something noticed or think we have forgotten something newsworthy, just let us know in the comment section or by writing us at info@esglobal.com

Thanks, and love to all This Week in Sustainability unwitting contributors:

@CTULocal1 – @HOPE4THE_FUTURE – @A2GOV – @AndreaLearned – @Raffi_RC – @Greenpeace – @PEspinosaC – @VegNews

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