Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

It’s been a rough time for our country and for the environment, but positive things are happening too. As the young activist Greta Thunberg reminds us, small actions from many like-minded people cause big changes to happen. While some things may be out of our control, determined individuals are making great strides in sustainbility every day. Here is a sampling of local and global progress we can feel good about:

843 (and counting) households are participating in the Cleaner Contra Costa Challenge!  Homes across the county are taking big and little sustainable actions that contribute to making our community cleaner and healthier. Learn more at cleanercontracosta.org.

Phillips 66 oil refinery will convert to a renewable fuels plant Under the new “Rodeo Renewal” project, Phillips 66 San Francisco crude oil refinery will take raw materials like used cooking oils, fats, greases, soybean, and other vegetable oils and convert them into renewable gas, diesel, and jet fuel by 2024. This will result in 50% less carbon dioxide, 75% less sulfur dioxide, and fewer local emissions and make Contra Costa County a world leader in clean energy. It will also dramatically reduce our carbon footprint, improve air quality, transport less crude oil into the Bay, provide clean renewable fuels, support hundreds of local jobs, and help the state meet its cap-and-trade and LCFS (Low Carbon Fuel Standard) goals. Learn more here.

California leads nation in Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEV) sales The stock of Plug-in Electric Vehicles in California is the largest in the U.S., with 670,000 PEV sales at the end of 2019. With transportation accounting for about 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the United States (and 36% in Contra Costa County), PEVs benefit local communities by bringing jobs, healthy air, a reduced carbon footprint, quieter streets, incentive funding and eligibility for a purchase rebate of up to $2,500 through the Clean Vehicle Rebate Project.

Gray Wolves Are Being Reintroduced to Colorado Ballot initiative 114 in Colorado passed by 56,000 votes, giving Colorado Parks and Wildlife a mandate for gray wolf reintroduction by the end of 2023. If the plan is successful, Colorado could be a model for voter-guided wildlife initiatives across the country. 

Native Americans in Nevada mobilized to protect their right to vote The Walker River Paiute Tribe and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe won a lawsuit against the state of Nevada to establish early in-person voting and Election Day polling sites in towns within their reservations. 

Bees are making a comeback In 2019, the USDA honeybee colony report showed a significant increase in bee populations in multiple states in the U.S. – up 14 percent over the last year. In 2018, France became the first country in the EU to ban the sale and use of five neonicotinoids. The US, Canada, and other countries have been hesitant to ban the chemicals, citing risk to industrial agriculture, but Maine counted a 73% increase in colony numbers since 2018, and Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Michigan have had significant increases in bee colonies over the last two years as well. California (with over one million hives) and Florida (with around 250,000 hives) have lost colonies since 2018, but the national increase of colonies by 14% in the past year offers hope. (Source: HappyEcoNews.com)

The Keystone Pipeline Project will cease According to Sierra Club, the Biden administration will rescind the permit and stop the next construction phase of the Keystone XL pipeline project, which would ferry up to 850,000 barrels of oil sands crude, piped from Alberta, Canada, to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

Investor coalition will plant 100 million trees Mastercard, CitiBank, and partners that include Saks Fifth Avenue, American Airlines, L.L. Bean, and more have created the Priceless Planet Coalition, which will unite corporate sustainability efforts and plant 100 million trees in five years.

Microsoft pledges going carbon negative by 2030 Microsoft announced they will go carbon negative by 2030, remove historical carbon emissions by 2050, and invest $1 billion in a climate innovation fund by shifting to 100% renewable energy, electrifying global campus operations vehicles, attaining LEED Platinum Certification, and more.

EU Commission removes hormone-disruptors out of food, products, and packaging Although the United States has not adequately regulated products and packaging with endocrine-disrupting compounds, including bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, flame retardants and pesticides, Europe’s chief policy-making body released an ambitious zero-tolerance plan that nearly eliminates hormone mimicking compounds. (Source: HappyEcoNews.com)

China cracks down on single-use plastics China is one of the world’s largest plastic manufacturers, with more than 29% of the world’s plastic products, but the Chinese government has committed to phasing out single-use plastics, including hotel items, plastic bags, and straws, and eliminating plastic postal service packaging.

According to many sources such as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Biden-Harris administration will:

  • Re-join the Paris Climate Agreement.
  • Restore budgets for the EPA, Interior Dept. and other federal agencies that protect the environment.
  • Invest $2 trillion over four years on clean energy in transportation, electricity and building sectors, creating 10 million jobs.
  • Strengthen automobile fuel efficiency standards (and achieve zero emissions from vehicles by 2050).
  • Require strong methane pollution limits for new and existing oil and gas operations.
  • Enforce bipartisan laws such as the Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act to protect against common toxic chemicals.
  • Establish an office of environmental and climate justice at the Department of Justice that addresses how environmental policy decisions affect communities of color.
  • Enhance reforestation and develop renewable energy on federal lands and water, with a goal of doubling offshore wind by 2050.
  • Protect more of the United States biodiversity by conserving more lands and waters by 2030.

You need to be a member of SCOCO Network to add comments!

Join SCOCO Network

Email me when people reply –


  • Relieved to hear the bees are making a comeback!
  • Very uplifting - thanks for sharing this great news!
This reply was deleted.