Patagonia’s wild river campaign and London’s ‘repair week’: The sustainability success stories of the week

Published every week, this series charts how businesses and sustainability professionals are working to achieve their ‘Mission Possible’ across the campaign’s five key pillars – energy, resources, infrastructure, mobility and business leadership.

Across the UK and across the world, leading businesses, cities, states and regions are turning environmental ambitions into action. Here, we round up five positive sustainability stories from this week.

ENERGY: Pacific nations commit to just transition away from fossil fuels

This week began with another major climate science report. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new synthesis report, summarizing its key findings in recent years as a document designed to be easier to digest for policymakers. An important finding is that the world is currently on track for at least 2.8C of warming against a pre-industrial baseline by 2100, far exceeding the Paris Agreement. Unless deep emissions cuts are made now, the IPCC reiterated, humanity faces a future in which vast swathes of the planet are ‘unliveable’.

It is timely, then, that a group of six nations among those most vulnerable to physical climate risks have agreed to spearhead efforts to create a fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty, with the backing of as many regions and nations as possible.

The ‘Port Villa Call’ has been signed on to by officials from Tonga, Fiji, Niue, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. It commits these countries to a “just an equitable phase-out of coal, oil and gas” domestically, and to spearheading work to get other nations to agree to the same.

The Call decries fossil fuel exporting nations for creating “loopholes” for fossil fuels at recent COPs, replacing mentions of ‘phasing out’ fossil fuels with ‘phasing down’; campaigning for only ‘inefficient’ subsidies to be stopped and positioning carbon capture as an alternative to an energy transition.

The delaration states: “The Pacific will no longer accept the fossil fuel lie. We have the power and responsibility to lead, and we will. Pacific leaders called for the Paris Agreement to limit warming to 1.5ºC, and have demanded an end to the development and expansion of fossil fuel extracting industries, starting with new coal mines. Pacific civil society has challenged the world to step up the fight for urgent fossil fuel phase out and effective climate action.”

RESOURCES: London celebrates ‘repair week’

Image: ActForEaling Climate Action Club

Did you know that, across Greater London, some £1.8bn worth of items that could have been repaired are thrown away each year? Commonly binned items include clothing, electronics, electricals and furniture.

To help divert some of these items from landfill or even recycling, ReLondon has been hosting a week-long campaign spotlighting repair services and teaching people how to repair their own things. Events have covered everything from bike repair to sewing on buttons; maintaining guitars to upcycling textiles.

Rebecca Child, Repair Week campaign manager, said: “We are really excited to see so many more brands and organisations get involved this year.. hopefully, this is the start of a national repair week.

“With the cost of living and climate crises, it makes sense that there is a growing appetite for learning to repair and upcycle rather than throw away.”

MOBILITY: Surrey County Council unveils plans for 10,000 on-street EV chargers

One-third of UK-based homeowners do not have a driveway or garage, which, in many cases, is deterring them from switching to an electric vehicle (EV) because they will not have somewhere to charge it.

To help reach motorists who rely on on-street parking, Surrey County Council is aiming to deliver what it believes is the largest on-street charger rollout from a local authority in England. It has partnered with Connected Kerb to draw up plans for 10,000 new charging points, which would increase the national stock by a quarter. More than half of the new chargers should be in place by 2027.

The scheme will see charging points installed across some 1,500 locations in Surrey, which is currently home to just one public EV charger per 9,000 residents. £60m has been allocated to the contract from Connected Kerb.

Connected Kerb’s chief executive Chris Pateman-Jones said: “If one local authority can deliver such a significant boost to the UK’s charging network, just imagine what we could achieve by 2030 if every city, county, and combined authority was empowered to do the same.

“The recent Net Zero Review was clear – local authorities can become the driving force behind the rollout of charging infrastructure across the country, and our partnership with Surrey County Council is case and point.”

THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT: Construction of landmark timber-frame building begins in Helsinki

In the UK, the construction sector is the biggest user of non-renewable materials and the biggest producer of waste. This comes with a considerable carbon footprint, given the carbon intensity of making common building materials like concrete and steel.

Wooden buildings are an innovative, and increasingly popular, choice for reducing embodied carbon. This week, edie received news of the first wooden elements being fitted in the new Katajanokan Laituri office block in Helsinki, Finland. The walls, floors, roofs, and stairs are made of cross-laminated timber of Finnish origin, supplied by Stora Enso. The building also features wooden elements in the façade.

The building is due to be completed in summer 2024 and will play host to corporate offices, a hotel, a café, a restaurant and a conference facility. In total, it will use some 7,600 m3 of wood.

Stora Enso’s country manager for Finland, Seppo Parvi, said: “The building is a landmark of the modern use of wood in low-carbon construction. This building pushes the boundaries and shows what is possible to create with wood as a climate-friendly construction material. It is designed to last at least 100 years and will store carbon for the lifetime of the building and its wooden structures. We are very excited to take these modern office premises into use after the building is finished in the summer of 2024.”

BUSINESS LEADERSHIP: Albania’s Vjosa River declared a national park after Patagonia campaign

This is technically a story from last week, but we couldn’t pass up the chance to include it. On 15 March, the Albanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment declared the Vjosa River – one of the continent’s last remaining large wild rivers – a national park.

Having natural park status will give the Vjosa special protections and help to conserve the 1,100 species of animals that live in and around the river.

Patagonia has long been campaigning for the river to take national park status – chiefly to prevent dam construction for dozens of proposed hydropower projects, and for clearer moves to restore the area. The business has worked with the Government of Albania and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature to deliver the new status and has spent more than $4m since the start of 2022 on wild river conservation.

A series of mapping, financial planning, staffing activities. plus cross-border work with Greece, will now be underway in preparation for the new National Park to benefit from protections by the start of 2024.

“This unique collaboration between government, civil society and business is testament to the power of collective action and we hope it will inspire others to come together to protect the wild places we have left, in a meaningful way,” said Patagonia’s chief executive Ryan Gellert.

Comments (2)

  1. Richard Phillips says:

    Banish carbon based fuels, ie carbon based energy; certainly, but where is the replacement??
    As a retired scientist from the nuclear energy sector, I cannot see a straightforward answer, or a quick one; it will take a considerable time.
    Sorry, but there it is.
    Can anybody see a quick, snag-less solution?

  2. Maggie says:

    I love the repair week idea in London! Would love to see that in more big cities. It’s always shocking to hear about the large scale waste, especially in fashion, where garments are worn 8 times before being thrown out. TikTok has been a huge platform for upcycling too, and I’m glad to see that there’s a growing community for it!

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