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10 good environmental news in 2023 | Review of the year 2023 and outlook for 2024

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Australia announced this year its desire to triple the size of the Macquarie Island Marine Park, which would make it a protected area the size of Spain.

  • Valérie Boisclair (View profile)Valérie Boisclair

In the blind spot of extreme weather events and the sad records that marked 2023, the year which is ending still gave rise to significant progress in the environmental field and climate. From Anticosti to Australia, here is the good news that has punctuated the last 12 months.

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The Jupiter River, on Anticosti Island, is famous for its salmon fishing.

L'île d' #x27;Anticosti, whose surface area is equivalent to 17 times that of the island of Montreal, entered the prestigious UNESCO heritage list in September. The island municipality has been hoping for this international recognition for a long time.

Reviews for the year 2023 and outlook for 2024

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Known for its immense cliffs, the Jupiter River and the Vauréal Falls, this island is also home to one of the largest thick stratigraphic successions from the end of the Ordovician period. This geological feature makes it an ideal place to study the first mass extinction in the history of life on Earth.

Anticosti constitutes the best natural laboratory in the world for the study of fossils and sedimentary strata resulting from the first mass extinction of living things, notes UNESCO, which represents an important milestone in the history of the Earth. /p>

The protected area covers almost 110,000 hectares, or approximately 14% of the island's total area. Anticosti thus joins the approximately 1,100 heritage properties and 700 UNESCO biosphere reserves.

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The 16 young people sued the state of Montana for its support of fossil fuels.

For the first time, an American court has recognized that a state is violating its Constitution by supporting the fossil fuel industry. This first constitutional climate trial in United States history concluded in favor of the 16 young plaintiffs, aged 5 to 22, last August.

The judge ruled that a provision in Montana's environmental policy, which prohibits the analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from large energy projects, violated young people's right to a clean and healthy environment. healthy, yet guaranteed by the State Constitution.

We have set a precedent, not only for the United States but also for the world, said Kian, one of the young people at the heart of the Held v. Montana State.

This decision by the Montana court could indeed breathe new life into other states where similar cases have been organized. In the United States, the next trial of this kind, brought by 14 young people, will take place in the summer of 2024 in Hawaii.

In Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal determined in December that a first constitutional trial on climate could take place. Brought in 2019, the case The Rose c. His Majesty the King brings together 15 young people who are suing the federal government for its responsibility in accelerating climate change.

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COP28 President, Emirati Minister Sultan Al-Jaber, poses alongside UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell at the end of the conference.

The 28th Conference of the Parties had not yet started when it was already causing disenchantment. This major summit on climate change was held this fall in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, one of the largest oil states in the world.

The appointment of Sultan Al-Jaber, Emirati minister of industry and advanced technology and CEO of oil company ADNOC, has sparked an outcry from environmental groups, some of whom have said choice to boycott COP28.

The summit, however, concluded with a historic mention included in the final declaration. The participating countries agreed to mention the need to achieve the transition away from fossil fuels, a first in the text of a COP. Previous statements only covered coal and did not mention other fuels like oil and gas.

However, countries were disappointed not to find a clear call to abandon fossil fuels and to note that certain concessions were made to the oil and gas sector. Although the final text of COP28 is not binding, it nevertheless embodies a commitment made by member countries to the international community to abandon polluting fuels.

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An aerial view of the Amazon rainforest along the Coroado neighborhood in the eastern part of Manaus, Brazil.

After being battered under the regime of the previous Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest saw some respite in 2023.

According to data from the PRODES monitoring system, deforestation recorded a decrease of 22.3% during the period 2022-2023 compared to 2021-2022. This is the lowest level observed since 2019, when Jair Bolsonaro was elected.

Under his reign, deforestation reached summits. The budget allocated to environmental protection has been reduced by almost a quarter, to benefit the agri-food industry.

During his election in the fall of 2022, his successor and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva vowed to put an end to the destruction of the forest Amazon forest by 2030. Nearly 60% of this forest is in the territory of Brazil.

Called the lungs of the planet, the Amazon rainforest is considered essential in the fight against climate change since it absorbs enormous quantities of carbon dioxide (CO2).

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A fishing boat in the sea near Dai Lanh, Phu Yen province, Vietnam.

After being the subject of negotiations for almost 20 years, an agreement to protect marine biodiversity saw the light of day this year.

This agreement is essential to confront the threats weighing on the ocean, according to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Plastic pollution, climate change and overfishing have led to a loss of biodiversity and habitats in the high seas.

This first treaty international, although imperfect, aims to promote the conservation and sustainable use of the biodiversity of the seas and oceans in areas located outside national maritime zones.

Preserving these ecosystems in international waters was one of the missing elements, to date, to enable the international community to protect 30% of the planet's oceans. Currently, around 8% of marine areas have a protected status.

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A baby bushy-tailed bettongi. This marsupial looks like a kangaroo the size of a rabbit.

Do you know the bushy-tailed bettongia? This rare marsupial, which looks like a kangaroo but is closer in size to that of a rabbit, has made a comeback in Australia.

Although it once populated more than 60% of Australia, this small marsupial disappeared from the south of the country more than 100 years ago. Its populations and habitat were decimated by predators, such as cats and foxes, and by land clearing by European settlers.

This year, 120 bushy-tailed bettongies were released by scientists on South Australia's Yorke Peninsula. Good news: they are thriving! Monitoring revealed that some individuals had reproduced.

Their return is welcome: these small animals dig holes in the ground and thus create microhabitats where water infiltrates and allows seed germination. They thus contribute to maintaining the ecosystem.

Australia also announced, last June, its intention to triple the surface area of ​​the Macquarie Island marine park, which would make it a protected area the size of Spain. . This new marine park, located between Australia and Antarctica, in the Pacific Ocean, will thus be protected from fishing, mining and any other extraction activity.

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NASA observed a hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica in 2000.

Once designated as the symbol of pollution and deterioration of the planet, the hole in the ozone layer could close within forty years.

If we don't hear much about it, it's because this problem is nowhere near as worrying as it was in the 1980s .

The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987 and ratified by 195 countries, has significantly reduced the amount of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the atmosphere. These gases previously found in refrigeration appliances are the cause of the hole in the ozone layer.

The phasing out of almost 99% of banned ozone-destroying substances has preserved the ozone layer and contributed significantly to its recovery in the upper stratosphere and a reduction in human exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the Sun, according to experts commissioned by the UN.

The layer x27;ozone could thus return to its form in 1980, i.e. before the appearance of the hole, by 2040. Its reconstitution above the Arctic and Antarctica should respectively have to wait until 2045 and 2066, depending on the best scenarios.

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Bartolomé Island, in the Galapagos archipelago.

Paying off its debt in exchange for a commitment to better protect its territory: that's what Ecuador did this year.

Like a dozen other countries such as Belize and Barbados, Ecuador managed to reduce its external debt by almost 1 billion dollars by promising, in return, to grant nearly $440 million to conserve the biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands.

This natural debt of unprecedented magnitude eases the burden weighing on Ecuador, whose economy has been damaged by the fall in the price of oil and the rise in interest rates. x27;interest. Weakened by the pandemic, this country receives aid from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Under the agreement, The funds allocated to the Galapagos Life Fund will help protect the Galapagos and Marina Hemandad marine reserves, which are home to more than 3,500 species.

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The creation of an artificial marsh should make it possible to absorb the effect of floods and create a wetland capable of enriching the faunal diversity on Tekakwitha Island.

The Mohawk community of Kahnawake inaugurated this year the complete revitalization of Tekakwitha Island, very close to Montreal.

Formed during the 1950s during the development of the St. Lawrence River Seaway, this island has deteriorated, particularly due to the proliferation of invasive species in the bay. The environment therefore represented a health risk.

To remedy this, the Mohawk community carried out major work to clean the bottom of the bay of sediments which prevented water to flow and to eradicate the toughest species, notably the common reed.

Natural habitats have been recreated to facilitate the nesting of turtles and the wintering of invertebrates, notably snakes. Nearly 15,000 shrubs, trees and plants were also sown. Monitoring will be done to study how plant and wildlife species evolve in this restored environment.

Restoring Tekakwitha Island and Bay will allow us to continue to gather, fish, swim, paddle and encourage future generations to love and protect the river as our ancestors did , summarized the Kahnawake Environmental Protection Office.

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The solar panels on this school in Dijon will provide energy to several buildings in the neighborhood.

To ensure the decarbonization of our activities, including that of heating our buildings, we must find alternative solutions to fossil fuels. The Fontaine d'Ouche district, in the French city of Dijon, has decided to turn to solar energy.

The pilot project launched in 2020 consists of the installation of dozens of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of a school. The energy thus generated should make it possible to power not only the school complex but also other buildings in the neighborhood, including the town hall buildings, the library, the swimming pool and the theater.

Ultimately, some 11,000 residents will be able to benefit from it, according to the Dijon authorities.

Like other projects in France, that of the city of Dijon is part of the RESPONSE project, an initiative of the European Commission intended to create positive energy districts, i.e. sectors that create more electricity than they consume.

In Canada, the City of Prévost became in 2023 the first Quebec municipality to adopt regulations to prohibit the installation of new gas heating appliances.

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