Here are all the positive environmental stories from 2023 so far

Here are all the positive environmental stories from 2023 so far

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 2022, 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 - racking up over 100 stories of eco-innovation, green breakthroughs and climate wins.

In 2023, 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 Twitter to share your ideas.

Positive environmental stories from February 2023

Installing solar panels on these family homes led to spare cash and more free time

Back in 2014, seven households of UK social housing tenants were surprised to be offered PV panels by their local authority.

Despite their initial scepticism, the families took ownership of the opportunity to become prosumers - both producing and consuming rooftop solar energy - gaining cheaper access to electricity and sharing it with their communities.

Watch the hunt for an elusive grey wolf once thought to be extinct in France

The European grey wolf was once widespread across the French countryside. By the 19th century, it only occupied half of its historical territory. Humans reduced their habitat and hunted the species almost to extinction. Then it disappeared entirely in 1937.

But now the number of wolves is growing again in France with its population on the verge of exceeding 1,000 individuals.

World’s oldest dog narrowly escaped death as a puppy, owner reveals

A Portuguese pup has smashed the record for the oldest dog ever.

30-year-old Bobi has lived his entire life in the rural village of Conqueiros, in Leiria, western Portugal, according to Guinness World Records.

Owner Leonel Costa has revealed Bobi's rocky start to life and his secret to longevity.

From a beef farm gone vegan to Scottish seaweed: All the winners of PETA’s new Farming Awards

Agriculture is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. To help UK consumers in their search for climate and animal-friendly foods, rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has launched its first ever Farming Awards.

Focusing on ethical, animal-free farming, the awards spotlight producers for their eco-friendly practices and products, from a seaweed farm in Scotland to a beef farmer who recently moved all his cows to a sanctuary.

This French village enjoys ‘no bills’ after building wind turbines and solar panels

Electricity bills rose across France on 1 February and steadily over the past year. But in tiny Muttersholtz - a French village with just 2,200 inhabitants - the price-hike was greeted with some nonchalance.

Their municipal bills were already near zero thanks to pioneering use of solar power and hydropower.

Positive environmental stories from January 2023

Major milestone for EU energy: Wind and solar produced more electricity than gas in 2022

Wind and solar power produced more of the EU’s electricity than fossil gas for the first time last year.

The renewable energies were responsible for a record fifth (22 per cent) of the bloc’s electricity, a new report from clean energy think tank Ember shows.

Portugal is trading Cape Verde’s national debt for climate investments

Portugal has signed an agreement to swap Cape Verde's debt for environmental investments.

Such 'debt-for-nature' deals are emerging in other countries as a way to reduce the impact of climate change. They also touch on the dilemma of who should foot the bill for climate change mitigation.

Cape Verde owes around €140 million to the Portuguese state and over €400 million to its banks and other entities. Ultimately, this will now end up in an environmental and climate fund established by Cape Verde.

Bees could be ensured safe flight around Europe via ‘buzz lines’

Creating a network of ecological corridors is one of a number of measures in the European Commission’s ‘New Deal for Pollinators’.

One in three bee, butterfly and hoverfly species are currently disappearing in the EU, so we urgently need to reverse their decline by 2030.

The deal aims to do that by targeting their key adversaries: pesticides, pollution, invasive alien species, changing land use and climate change.

Bill Gates is taking on cow burps by backing an Australian climate tech start-up

Bill Gates is funding an Australian start-up that hopes to combat methane-emitting cow burps.

Agriculture is the main culprit for human-caused methane emissions, one of the biggest drivers of global warming.

Australian climate technology start-up Rumin8 wants to tackle this issue by feeding cows seaweed.

Designer pets that suffer ‘miserable’ health problems could soon be banned in the Netherlands

The breeding of designer pets was banned in the Netherlands in 2014. Now the government is looking to close a loophole to stop the import and trade of these breeds.

“Today we are taking the big step towards a Netherlands where no pet has to suffer from his or her appearance,” the country’s Minister of Culture, Nature and Food Quality, Piet Adema, said in a statement.

The Minister said he is looking to ban the ownership of designer breeds as well as photos of them in advertising and on social media.

More than a fifth of energy used in the European Union in 2021 came from renewables

New Eurostat data shows that solar, wind and other ‘green’ sources contributed 21.8 per cent to the EU’s total energy consumption.

Although this was a 0.3 per cent drop on 2020, the report shows that Europe’s energy infrastructure is still heading in the right direction, spurred on by recent global events.

Last month, the International Energy Agency revealed that the world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the last 20.

Scientists name three easy and cheap solutions that could drastically cut emissions

New research has named three small interventions that could trigger a cascade of decarbonisation and may be the fastest way to drive global action.

These positive tipping points could have a snowball effect in a good way, drastically cutting carbon emissions in some of the world’s most polluting sectors and giving us "plausible grounds" for hope.

Paris makes headway on net zero as commuters cycle to work

Paris commuters took advantage of the capital's newly expanded network of bicycle lanes to bypass public transport disruptions resulting from a nationwide strike.

Bike lane traffic has often surged during recent strikes. The last Paris metro strike on 10 November boosted bike lane usage by 80 per cent from average daily use that month.

In a bid to make Paris a 'cycling city' and move towards carbon neutrality, Socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo has invested more than €150 million into new bike infrastructure in recent years.

France votes to ban deep-sea mining in its waters

The French Parliament has voted in favour of banning deep-sea mining in its waters, in an emphatic move against the controversial practice.

Deep-sea mining would see heavy machinery being used on the ocean floor to suck up small rocks containing rare metals. Though it’s still at an exploratory stage, companies are very interested in the cobalt, nickel and manganese which could be extracted for car batteries.

But scientists are concerned about the potentially devastating impact on marine ecosystems. As well as the climate, given the vast amounts of CO2 stored at these depths.

Nicholas Thierry, the Green MP who tabled the motion, welcomed the vote as a “victory for the seabed and environmentalists.”

Edinburgh has endorsed the Plant Based Treaty to combat climate change

Edinburgh has become the first European capital to endorse a plant-based diet to tackle the climate emergency.

The city council has signed on to the Plant Based Treaty, an initiative which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from animal agriculture.

The treaty could eventually see the council introduce some carbon labelling on menus and transition to more plant based meals in schools and council buildings.

Regular trips to the park could reduce people's reliance on antidepressants

Visiting green spaces can dramatically lower mental health drug use, research has found.

Dropping into a park, community garden or other urban green space between three and four times a week can cut people’s chances of taking medication for anxiety or depression by a third.

The positive impact - documented by researchers at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare - also extends to physical health. Visiting green spaces reduces the chances of a city resident having to take asthma or high blood pressure medication by a third and a quarter, respectively.

Companies will soon have to prove that they really are taking climate action, under draft EU law

A draft European Union law will require companies to back up green claims with evidence.

The proposal will clamp down on companies promoting their products as 'climate neutral' or 'containing recycled materials' if such labels are not substantiated. It aims to fight misleading environmental advertisements.

"By fighting greenwashing, the proposal will ensure a level playing field for businesses when marketing their greenness," the draft document states.

German solar power firm sees soaring demand as homeowners seek to cut energy bills

Soaring demand for home solar power systems in Germany could boost revenues at Solarwatt by more than 50 per cent this year to €500 million.

By installing solar panels, batteries and heat pumps, homeowners are seeking to cut their energy bills after huge price hikes last year when Russia cut fossil fuel exports to the West.

"We are a life-long supplier to people who want to become self-reliant on renewable energy," says solarwatt chief executive Detlef Neuhaus. The company should reach profitability this year.

Finland: Wind power increased by 75% last year, boosting energy security and climate goals

Finland’s wind power capacity increased by 75 per cent last year, according to the Finnish Wind Energy Association (FWPA).

With almost half of Finland’s wind power domestically owned, the renewable energy source is providing a significant lifeline during the current energy crisis.

The growth in renewables is also helping Finland achieve its ambitious climate goals. The country hopes to be one of the first in Europe to reach net zero, setting a 2035 target - well ahead of the EU’s 2050 goal.

'Love Island': Hit UK TV show to promote sustainable fashion in latest series

Hit UK reality TV show ‘Love Island’ is back on 16 January - and pre-loved fashion is set to steal the show once again.

In 2022, the series ditched its fast fashion image by partnering with eBay - the first ever pre-loved fashion partnership on a TV show. Clothing from eBay's online second hand marketplace was worn by contestants as they descended on an exotic location to find love.

Searches for ‘pre-loved clothing’ soared by 1,600 per cent on eBay after the show aired.

New solar-powered technology can transform plastic waste into sustainable fuels and cosmetics

Scientists have developed a way of transforming plastic waste and greenhouse gases into sustainable fuels using solar power.

The system, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, could address plastic pollution and become a “game-changer” in the development of a circular economy.

Ozone layer on track to recover within decades, UN reports

Human emissions of certain chemicals cause a hole to open up in the ozone layer each year over the Antarctic. This affects the ability of the ozone to protect life on Earth from the sun's harmful radiation.

Now, the 1987 Montreal Protocol, under which 197 countries pledged to phase out ozone depleting chemicals, is paying off.

A UN-backed panel of experts, presenting at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting yesterday, said the ozone would heal by around 2066 over the Antarctic, by 2045 over the Arctic and by 2040 for the rest of the world.

Antalya goes solar: How this Turkish city is transforming its energy supply

A large solar power plant has been built in Dağbeli, on the outskirts of Antalya, Turkey, to provide free energy to local farmers.

Local growers in the fruit and vegetable farming hub say they once refrained from irrigating their crops properly because of the high energy prices. Some 60,000 people now benefit from the support scheme, which gives farmers the means to run irrigation systems and increase crop production.

Tobacco companies must pay for clean up of discarded cigarettes in Spain

Spain has ruled that tobacco companies will have to pay to clean up cigarette butts.

Millions of cigarette ends are tossed onto Spain’s streets and beaches by smokers each year.

The new environmental regulations also include bans on single-use plastic cutlery and plastic straws. The rulings are part of an EU-wide drive to reduce waste and promote recycling.

England bans some single-use plastics

Single-use plastic items including cutlery and plates will soon be banned in England, the government has announced.

Each year, the country uses around 1.1 billion single-use plates and 4.25 billion items of cutlery, according to government estimates. Only 10 per cent of these are recycled.

Now, environment secretary Thérèse Coffey has confirmed that such items will be outlawed in England.

Circular economy: Human hair recycled to clean waterways in Belgium

A Belgian NGO is using human hair clippings to absorb environmental pollutants.

Clippings are collected from hairdressers across the country then turned into matted squares. These can be used to absorb oil and other hydrocarbons polluting the environment.

The mats can be placed in drains to soak up pollution in water before it reaches a river. They can also be used to deal with pollution problems due to flooding and to clean up oil spills.

Lula plans to end deforestation and make Brazil a green superpower

Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was sworn in as Brazil's president in January marking a new era for the country's environmental policies.

Lula's plans for government provide a stark contrast to far-right former leader Jair Bolsonaro, whose four years in office were characterised by backsliding on environmental protections.

The new president says he wants to turn Brazil, one of the world's top food producers, into a green superpower.

Our favourite positive environmental story from 2022

World's oldest two-headed tortoise celebrates his 25th birthday

In the wild, a two-headed tortoise would not ordinarily survive long since it can’t retract its heads into its shell to shelter from predators. But this month, Janus - named after the two-faced Roman God - became the world's oldest two-headed tortoise at 25.

Lovingly cared for at Geneva Natural History Museum, he is treated to a personalised care regime - including daily massages and green tea baths - that keeps him in good health.

For more good news on the environment from last year, check out all of Euronews Green's positive environmental stories from 2022.