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Still Chugging Along

Volcanoes are erupting in The Philippines, but on-fire Australia received some welcome rain. The Iran war cries have been called off and The Donald’s military powers are about to be hamstrung by the Senate. Meanwhile, his impeachment trial is starting, and we’re all on Twitter for a front-row seat.


What Could Go Right? Europe’s supercharged green transition

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sprung forward Europe’s decarbonization process.

Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas

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Europe’s supercharged green transition

Russia invaded Ukraine one year ago on February 24, 2022. If you would have predicted then that it would supercharge the green transition in Europe, your sanity would have been questioned. And yet that is exactly what has happened. While the war rolls on in Ukraine, Europe has managed to not only avoid the worst-case scenario of a winter filled with blackouts and deaths from cold, but also potentially, according to The Economist, knock “a full decade off the continent’s decarbonization timeline.”

Color me impressed, even though part of the success was the luck of a mild winter, and even though the cost has been heavy—the Greek government, for example, has been covering almost two-thirds of my recent electricity bills here in Athens. 

How did this all happen? Vox has more on Europe’s recent, rapid rise in renewables here, and Euronews has more on the populace’s quick adoption of heat pumps here. Regarding the latter, it turns out the threat of skyrocketing heat prices is a good motivator to look for cost-saving alternatives. Although many of us—including me, I’m sorry to admit—in Europe got through the winter burning wood and coal instead, a far less climate-friendly move, Euronews reports that the more innovative European citizens among us who installed heat pumps in their homes are “helping Europe to avoid 54 megatonnes of CO2, or roughly the equivalent annual emissions of Greece.” (A special shoutout to Italy and France, where the highest numbers of heat pumps were sold in 2022, as well as Finland, Norway, and Sweden, where the most heat pumps were sold per 1,000 households.) 

Despite all of this movement, in the short term, the news is not good. Emissions in the power and heat sectors hit record highs in 2022 due to the market and energy shocks of Russia’s invasion, says a new report from the research group Rystad Energy. Medium and long term, however, the news is encouraging. Rystad Energy projects total worldwide emissions to peak in 2025, what their head of clean tech research, Artem Abramov, calls “an outstanding global achievement, exceptional when considering the current supply chain roadblocks and the high focus on energy security.” He continues, “If the industry can maintain this momentum, global warming of less than 2.0 degrees Celsius is within reach.” 

Reaching the climate goal of our dreams? One thing we’ve learned this past year is that where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Before we go

Over 100 years ago, the weekend was won, and workers settled into a five days on, two days off way of life. Now more and more companies are trying out four days on, three days off, for the same pay. Data from the United Kingdom, in the biggest trial so far of the four-day workweek—61 companies, 3,300 people—was just released. The results? “Without exception, every employee I spoke to has found the switch life-changing,” writes Matt Rudd in The Times. “Also without exception—puzzlingly—so has every employer.” Somehow, putting in 80 percent of the time is still yielding 100 percent of the productivity. Here’s to 4:3 triumphing as soon as possible over 5:2.

Below in the links section, Amazon deforestation falls, new EV noises are coming, red states are warming to medicinal magic mushrooms, and more.

Secretly Sexy

A pop-up section in which we celebrate numbers that represent substantial improvement in people’s lives

Solid tips. More about The Question and Braver Angels here and here.

Moral Ambition | S4 E2

What incentivizes human behavior? How many of our problems come from a lack of cash? And how does shame work as a motivator? Join us and Rutger Bregman, author of Humankind and Utopia for Realists, to talk about balancing a critical eye with the conviction that the world can be improved upon. Plus, we look at the new billions being spent to fight HIV and malaria abroad, Kenya’s Right to Disconnect, and therapeutic psilocybin use in Australia. | Listen to the episode

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One Year Inside a Radical New Approach to America’s Overdose CrisisThe New York Times

Why we picked it: An emotional, gripping introduction to a harm reduction initiative being tested out in New York City. It’s one potential path forward for how to solve the tragedy and societal problem of drug abuse in the US. —Emma Varvaloucas

Until Next Time

Who’s your favorite AI-generated US Pixar president? 🤔

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Emma Varvaloucas

Emma Varvaloucas is the Executive Director of The Progress Network. An editor and writer specializing in nonprofit media, she was formerly Executive Editor of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review and is the editor of two books from Wisdom Publications.