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Small Wins, Big Impact

Figure 1: Vertical farming and automation using robots

Reports of rising temperatures, increased natural disasters, limited fossil fuel, illnesses surrounding the pollution - climate news most often, comes off as all gloomy and quite hopeless actually. Terms like eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread are all over social media campaigns. All of us, at some point, must have questioned ourselves whether climate change is a lost battle already. But losing hope gives way to apathy, and we can all agree that it's not a good place to be in. We may have a long way to go and a hard battle to fight to solve climate crises and all the underlying causes, which is why it is equally important to recognise and cheer the small wins along the way.

Our team has decided to keep looking for positive news on climate change across the globe, no matter the scale or impact, and put them together every few months. Little things that keep the hopes up and give us the necessary motivation to keep fighting. To begin with, we have some news on Hydrogen trains, solar panels, vertical farming, conservation and waste management. More coming up soon!

Japan has unveiled its first hydrogen-powered train. It is a significant step toward the nation’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The two car “Hybari" - a combination of hybrid and the Japanese word for a lark - train costs about $35 million ( 4 billion yen) and can travel up to 140 kms (87 miles) at a top speed of 100 km/h on a single filling of hydrogen. The hydrogen-fueled train has been developed by East Japan Railway Co in partnership with Toyota Motor Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. The commercial services are likely to begin in 2030.

Japan has made hydrogen a key clean-energy source to reach net zero. The government aims to boost hydrogen’s usage amount to 20 million tons by 2050. Japanese companies like Iwatani Corp and Kawasaki Heavy Industries Limited are trying to build scalable hydrogen supply chains to bring down its price and drive widespread adoption.

Swedish retail giant Ikea is getting ready to sell home solar panel kits in its retail stores in California. As part of a partnership with SunPower, the company will allow people to pick out a rooftop solar system and battery storage unit, which will be installed by professionals — saving the customers from having to try to decipher the instructions. It is important that greener and cleaner alternative sources of energy are easily available and accessible; so that people conveniently shift to make the more sustainable choice.

The world’s largest vertical farm is being built to help end the UK’s reliance on imported foods. British retailers are already getting almost a third of their fresh basil from the team at Jones Food Company (JFC). It is grown, alongside other leafy greens, at Europe’s largest vertical farm in Lincolnshire, England. The company wants to eliminate the need to import these products. In 2020, nearly half of all food consumed in the UK was brought in from overseas, according to the government.

Vertical farms use less fertilizer than outdoor operations as it is recycled through the farm’s water system if the plants don’t absorb it. There’s also no risk of fertilizers running off of fields and polluting water sources. The company adds that this innovative food growing setup can be powered with 100% green energy, uses 95 per cent less water and reduces the air miles attached to the country’s food. The multi-million pound facility will have more than 13,500 square meters of growing space. It is set to open in autumn 2022.

The founder of The North Face and Esprit, Douglas Tompkins had dedicated his fortune to conservation, and in 1990, Tompkins bought and donated 8,000km2 of land to Chile and Argentina to help improve the countries’ biodiversity. His vision was to create a reserve in southern Chile that both hikers and animals could enjoy. This inspired Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to create five new national parks and place millions of acres of land under strict environmental protection. Today, the Chilean part of Patagonia National Park is an environmental treasure trove. It is a true example of ecosystem conservation, meaning it’s mostly governed without interference from nature.

It is known that more than 100 billion pounds of food ends up in U.S. landfills each year. One of the best ways to combat that waste is through composting — and Boston has introduced a new initiative to offer curbside pick-up for compostable waste, which will turn wasted food into clean energy. The food waste - which will be collected through a partnership between Garbage to Garden and Save That Stuff - will be sent to Save that Stuff's composting site in West Bridgewater to be turned into compost that will be made available to Boston parks, gardens, and schools, and sent to Waste Management's CORe Facility in Charlestown where it will be made into clean energy. This program was announced in February 2022 and has been operational since July 2022.

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