Climate Good News Round Up: It’s Still a Beautiful World

By: Devon Downeysmith, Climate Communications & Outreach Manager

In light of recent current events, the desire to celebrate climate victories may feel a bit muted. However, despite all the negative news that seems to swirl around us, it’s that very negativity that makes it all the more important to pause and acknowledge the good. I don’t know about you, but my brain is programmed to either tune out all current events when I feel emotionally overwhelmed by bad news, or to draw broad conclusions about how the world is simply “going crazy” and use that as my excuse to disengage from being part of the solution.

Whether it’s the terrorist attacks in Paris, the shooting in California, or simply being aware of the ever-increasing pile of troubling environmental news that comes across my desk, it’s easy to see why people tune out. The severity of these events feels bigger than anything one person, even with the most committed heart, can tackle. But for me, as a woman about to have my first child literally any day now, I feel an almost primal sense of obligation to maintain my optimism for our future. I can’t give up on this world. I have a daughter about to enter it and I want to create a better future for her. So, are there bright spots in climate current events? Are there examples we can draw strength from of people coming together to help create a better world? Quite simply, yes.

  • The Paris climate talks: 195 nations agree it is vital to stop the dangerous warming of our planet by reducing climate-changing pollution. 
    The talks brought together 40,000+ diplomats, experts and advocates to develop a new global climate treaty to avoid the worst effects of global warming. At the end of nearly two weeks of intense negotiations, often late into the night, 195 countries agreed to work together to keep global warming contained at levels that the best science suggests are necessary to avoid the worst effects of climate change: well below 2 degrees Celsius, with a goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius. World Bank president Jim Yong Kim called the goal “far more ambitious than anyone imagined.”
  • From the streets  to the capitol, the West Coast is stepping up: The Paris Agreement is a critical step in the fight against climate disruption. But for real impact on the ground, cities and states have to be change makers. Read more from our Climate Program Director Jana Gastellum on how we’re hoping to make Oregon the “early bird that catches the worm” — leading the way to a clean energy future and reaping the benefits. For more inspiring commitment from the West Coast,  read the group opinion column in the Seattle Times from California, Washington and Oregon’s governors, plus the premier of British Columbia. Also, at a summit hosted by Portland’s mayor Charlie Hales,  five West Coast mayors renewed their commitment to reduce greenhouse gases 80% by the year 2050.
  • Oregon’s clean energy economy is growing faster than the economy as a whole: In fact, job growth is occurring twice as fast on the west coast than any other segment of the economy. A new study, the Delphi Group’s West Coast Clean Economy: 2010-2014 Jobs Update, highlights how our region’s environmental policies are helping to clean air, water and our economy. The study found that Oregon added 4,800 clean economy jobs to total 48,321, growing 11 percent since 2010, faster than our state’s overall economy.
  • The worldwide fossil fuel divestment movement reached a new milestone just this week: On day three of COP21, the public learned that more than 500 institutions (which account for more than $3.4 trillion in worldwide financial assets) have collectively made commitments to at least partially divest from fossil fuels. This number represents a huge jump from the $2.6 trillion announced in September and the $50 billion committed to just last year. It’s a big jump that signals a collective consciousness shift and highlights the growing political stigma associated with fossil fuels. Why does this matter? Because we’ve seen divestment used as a powerful tool to incite global change before. The South African divestment campaign of the 1980’s helped end apartheid, while more recent divestment campaigns have helped end violence in Darfur, and highlighted dangerous or unethical industries by divesting from tobacco, automatic weapons, sweatshop labor, landmines and more. By taking bold action to divest from fossil fuels, we’re part of the global movement to help break the hold these dirty industries have on our economy — and that hold is breaking now.
  • New York’s new Clean Energy Mandate means 50% renewables by 2030: New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has issued a mandate, the Clean Energy Standard, to require that New York State achieve 50 percent of its power from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydroelectric, biomass or other renewable sources by 2030. This move has been praised by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), as well as the Solar Industries Association (SEIA.)
  • New poll shows majority support for climate action: A new New York Times/CBS News poll found that two-thirds of Americans support the US joining a binding international agreement to curb growth of greenhouse gas emissions. Only a slim majority of Republicans remain opposed. Additionally, 63% of Americans, including a Republican majority, support President Obama’s domestic policy limiting carbon emissions from power plants. All this is further evidence to show that climate action is a growing priority that’s being seen as a human rights issue, rather than a political one.

These are but a few examples. Take a moment to focus on the good. We are making a difference.


Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
Policy Featured Climate Protection Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Job Opportunities Eco-Healthy Homes Toxics-Free Environments Air Quality Toxic Free Priorities Environmental Health
Sort by
oregon mountain cloaked in clouds with pink hue from sunset

Speak Up For the Climate Protection Program (CPP)!

Last December, the oil and gas industry and their allies delivered a devastating blow to climate justice in our state.  The Oregon Court of Appeals invalidated Oregon’s landmark
May 7, 2024, 9:41 am


Climate Program Director

April 16, 2024, 4:09 pm


Building Climate Resilience with Better Buildings

Gazing at the downtown skyline of Portland? Rushing through PDX to catch a flight? Lost in the Silicon Forest? You probably aren’t thinking about how to reduce climate emissions. But Oregon’s large office, high-tech and public buildings are one of Oregon’s best opportunities to meet our climate goals by addressing our second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because the overall “carbon footprint” of
April 8, 2024, 4:36 pm


Broad coalition backs Governor and DEQ’s commitment to rapidly restore cornerstone Climate Protection Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 22, 2024 MEDIA CONTACT: Nora Apter, Oregon Environmental Council |
January 22, 2024, 11:22 am


Nora Apter, senior program director for climate at the Oregon Environmental Council speaking at the pro-CPP Rally in Salem on September, 29, 2023.

Voices of Support: Defending Oregon’s Climate Protection Program

On September 29, 2023, OEC gathered with a growing coalition of community-based organizations, lawmakers, and business groups following oral arguments heard by the Oregon Court of Appeals to rally behind the Oregon Climate Protection Program (CPP), which is under attack from the fossil fuel industry. OREGON’S CLIMATE PROTECTION PROGRAM Oregon’s Climate Protection Program (CPP) is a cornerstone in our st
October 23, 2023, 1:43 pm


Windmills over green terrain

Climate Win! Oregon Lawmakers Take Powerful Action Passing the ‘Climate Resilience Package’

Oregon’s 2023 Legislative Session ended with a momentous victory in the fight against climate change with the passage of the bipartisan Climate Resilience Package (HB 3409 & HB 3630). With over $90 million in funding and strategic leveraging of federal investments, this victory represents significant progress in our relentless pursuit of a climate-resilient future for Oregon.
June 29, 2023, 11:13 am


A farmworker carries berries in a field

The Right to Refuse Dangerous Work: Another Victory for Worker Safety in a Warming Climate

Oregon has taken resolute action in protecting workers from dangerous conditions caused by the worsening climate crisis. On June 7, 2023, Governor Tina Kotek signed into law Senate Bill 907, the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work. This law builds a past victory for worker safety achieved by the OEC and coalition partners in implementing permanent heat and smoke rules, fortifying our state’s commitment to shielding workers from the dangers of an increasingly volatile  cl
June 27, 2023, 2:32 pm


Oregon Health Authority Report Finds Devastating Public Health Impacts from Climate Change in Oregon, Underscoring Urgent Need for Legislative Action to Pass the Climate Resilience Package

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 22, 2023 Media Contact Kat Driessen, PORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Health Authority today released a comprehensive report on the public health impacts of climate change in Oregon. The “2021-2022 Climate and Health in Oregon Rep
June 22, 2023, 11:00 am


View over a pacific northwest valley with grass and trees in the background under blue sky

Natural Lands, Natural Climate Solutions

Oregon’s farms, forests, urban parks, wetlands, and other natural lands shape our state’s landscape and economy and are an essential source of life-sustaining resources. OEC is part of a coalition working to protect these lands from climate extremes and harness their potential as a climate solution.
February 15, 2023, 9:19 pm


Governor Brown signing Climate Change Executive Order

Climate Champion: Governor Brown’s Legacy and the Path Ahead

A few years ago, the prospect of Oregon taking meaningful action on climate was dim. Republicans had just fled the capital to prevent the elected majority of state leaders from moving forward with a vote (a tactic now widely condemned by Oregon voters via Measure 113), effectively
February 14, 2023, 7:04 pm


1 Reply to "Climate Good News Round Up: It's Still a Beautiful World"

  • Mary Vogel
    December 9, 2015 (1:41 am)

    Thanks for this compilation of good news, OEC. Between shootings and Trump, I’m having trouble finding news on the Paris talks without directly searching for it.