The United States is now the leader of the Paris Climate Discord after President Trump announced last Thursday that the United States will be exiting the Paris Accord - an agreement to limit greenhouse gas emissions and keep global temperatures from rising over 2 degrees Celsius that all countries in the world have signed/ratified except for Nicaragua (which said it isn't tough enough), Syria, and now, the United States. A development with very far-reaching implications. With that said, there are plenty of positive environmental developments happening around the world that deserve more awareness. Let's examine 4 which hold as much weight when it comes to their potential to impact and forge a more sustainable future:
1. The Lilium Jet - All-Electric Air Transportation
Jetsons-style commutes are becoming a reality.
The Lilium Jet has officially taken off. Although still a nascent industry, functioning Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) prototypes are propelling the industry into high-gear. With a 300 km range at 300 km/h, all-electric power and less noise than a motorbike, Lilium makes an inner city London-to-Paris trip possible in an hour.
A breath of fresh air for those fortunate to live in these city-forest dwellings.
Ever go on a hike to get a reprieve from the concreteness that comes with living in the city? Architect Stefano Boeri is bringing about a new sense to the phrase 'urban jungle.' Vertical forests are being erected in the Chinese city of Nanjing, which will be China's, and all of Asia's, first seed toward growing a network of forested cities.
Boeri states this forest will provide 25 tonnes of CO2 absorption each year and will produce about 60 kg of oxygen per day. You don't have to wait to experience the Vertical Forest. Go no further than Milan if you want to see the first Vertical Forest of its kind. Prepare to breathe a little easier in a more forested world.
3. Tidal Energy - Clean Electricity & Water from Waves
It only makes sense that our new water & energy solution comes from what makes up 70% of the globe.
Harvest your energy from waves, a reliable, predictable and unlimited energy source. A groundbreaking (waterbreaking?) new technology, Carnegie Wave Energy Limited's (CETO) energy system converts natural wave energy from tides into both zero-emission electricity and fresh drinking water. Desalination alone is traditionally a very intensive and greenhouse gas-emitting process with one plant's emissions equivalent to about 220,000 additional cars on the road. A zero-emission method for clean water and energy production more efficient than both wind and solar makes for a bright future in the oceans. Not to mention, the infrastructure also acts as an artificial reef for attracting marine life and it also won't sully any views from the golf course anytime soon.
4. Vegetarian Diets for the German Government
Yup, no fish in this.
Suffice it to say, meat-loving German Policymakers are finding it hard to swallow a vegetarian's diet which is now being served at official government functions. The Huffington Post reports that the German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, said her ministry must serve as a “role model” on environmental and sustainability issues.
With findings showing that livestock and their byproducts account for at least 51% of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, it is important to look at all types of consumption in the big picture of the environment's future. While vegetarian and vegan lifestyles may be hard for some of us to adapt to, companies like Impossible Foods (whose plant-based meats we talked about here), are making it easier.
Leadership is important when it comes to influencing change in a positive direction. It'll be interesting to see how well this vegetarian-diet-shift plays out in Germany, which is not only Europe's strongest economy but the fourth largest in the world.
Despite whatever impediments come in the way, progress can't stop and won't stop. How much traction a project or initiative gains is a collective agreement led by the people. In this respect, people are truly the leaders. Envisioning the future and bringing it to life doesn't fall onto any one person - this responsibility, and privilege, is bestowed unto all of us. You don't need to be the president to make an impact, you simply need to have an awareness of what's happening all around us and the interests of an efficient, harmonious and sustainable future reflected in day-to-day decisions. The US exit from the Paris Accord doesn't necessarily spell certain demise for our planet, it just means the responsibility has shifted to private companies and individuals to make a difference. With developments like these and the collective influence of all our voices, it just so happens that we're on the right track.