Synopsis of last week's most important 'Champagne moments' from around the world.
Brenda Lee: The 78 year old singer dances merrily to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with her new release of the holiday classic Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree. The song rewrites multiple records as it tops the chart for the first time - 65 years after its release. Want to see the video for some Christmas cheer? Click here
Gapminder: The Gapminder Foundation of Sweden has just done a big refresh of its data regarding extreme poverty. Two decades ago, a quarter of the world's population lived in extreme poverty. That fell to 8.3 percent by 2022. The pandemic caused setbacks, but the really good news is that it didn’t change the fact that life has continually improved for most people in the world in this century.
Leaning Tower of Bologna to be Saved: Officials have announced plans to repair one of two 12th century towers in the Italian city of Bologna after the area around it had to secured over fears it could topple over.
Siblings Make History: India's chess prodigy Rameshbabu Praggnanandhaa was 10 years old when he became the then-youngest International Master, the second-highest title after Grandmaster. He became the second-youngest Grandmaster in 2018. Meanwhile, another chess-playing member of his family diligently awaited her turn - his sister Vaishali. She's now just become only the third-ever female Grandmaster - making the siblings the first Grandmaster brother-sister pair in history.
World’s Most Powerful Women: As ever, this year's Forbes Power List was determined by four main metrics: money, media, impact and spheres of influence. And even Barbie got a mention.
Historic Turning Point: It’s been an extraordinary few weeks for nature and people protection in British Columbia, with a slew of unprecedented funding and legislative initiatives. The progress has marked a historic turning point in how the province prioritises Indigenous-led conservation, reports The Narwhal. "The changes are so vast that 'nature protection' fails to capture the magnitude of events. What’s happening before our eyes is a whole-of-society restructuring. Think of it as a personal makeover for a region twice the size of France, trying to recover from the hangover of 150 years of colonial plunder."
Wireless-Charging Road: City of Detroit has the first installation of wireless charging in a public roadway in the US.
Climate Victory: In a powerful victory for climate campaigners, the Brussels court of appeal ordered Belgium to cut its planet-heating pollution by at least 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, says The Guardian. By 2021, Belgium had cut its emissions by just 24 percent. The court rejected arguments that Belgium’s impact on the climate crisis was limited by its small size.
Salmon Success: In the Bay Area of California, a famous Pacific resident is heading home for the holidays - up newly-cleaned creeks to spawn. After a decade of cleaning up the river habitats, these wild river ecosystems are once again supporting healthy salmon runs. Some, reports KTVU, as large as 30 pounds, as long as 35 inches, are running up the Guadalupe River Watershed by the hundreds.
Italy's Hyperloop: The nation's first hyperloop line between Venice and Padua has been given the green light.
Spiritual Home: A court in Ecuador has ruled in favour of the Siekopai Nation’s claim to their ancestral homeland, Pë’këya, on the border of Ecuador and Peru, restoring property title for 42,360 hectares (164 square miles) of some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, reports El País.
Lights on in Tanzania: Tanzania says that all 12,318 villages across the country will be electrified by June 2024, marking the culmination of a journey that began three decades ago, says The Citizen. This achievement, a year ahead of the original 2025 target, will provide over 70 percent of the rural population with access to electricity.
Remarkable Achievement: A few years ago, Egypt had the world’s highest burden of hepatitis C, with around one in ten (nine million) Egyptians chronically infected, reports the New York Times. In one of the greatest-ever public health accomplishments by a country, it has screened its entire population, brokered a deal for drugs and cured almost everyone, and now it's trying to help other African countries do the same.
Nowhere to Hide: An amazing new Climate TRACE tool was launched at COP28 by Al Gore's team. It allows anyone in the world with an internet connection to access a top-down, independent, and multi-source dataset of all the planet's sources of carbon emissions. TRACE = Tracking Real-time Atmospheric Carbon Emissions. So, there is nowhere to hide anymore.
Capital City Park: After a decade of political wrangling, Norway's capital, Olso, now has a new national park. Located on the doorstep of the city, Østmarka National Park will protect around 71 square kilometres (27.5 sq. miles) of nature, reports Life in Norway.
Nuclear Fusion Reactor: The world’s biggest operational experimental nuclear fusion reactor - a technology in its infancy but billed by some as the answer to humanity’s future energy needs - has been inaugurated in Naka, Japan.
Major Restoration: Paying local residents to plant mangroves in Indonesia has raised incomes, increased fishery output, protected coastal areas, and contributed to efforts to mitigate climate change. Now, says the World Bank, the government has launched a new program to restore 150,000 acres (600,000 ha) of mangroves by 2024 - the world’s largest mangrove restoration ambition to date. Mangroves are a vital carbon capturing ecosystem - taking in between double and quadruple the amount of CO2 that mature tropical rainforests do.
EU's EV Revolution: Europe’s electric vehicle revolution has stepped up a gear. For the first time, EVs have outsold smut-belching diesel cars in the European Union this year. According to the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, 1.2m new EVs were registered in the bloc between January and October - an increase of 53 percent compared to the same period of 2022. All told, EVs accounted for 14 percent of new registrations. Diesel cars, which once accounted for half, slumped to 12 percent of the share.
Declining Deforestation: In a good sign of progress, deforestation is dropping in key regions of the world. Emissions from deforestation and degradation declined by 56 percent and 87 percent, respectively, in Indonesia between 2015 and 2022, and by 7 percent and 19 percent in the Congo Basin in 2022 compared to 2021. And there's some good news coming for the Amazon region, too. A new analysis has shown that deforestation across the nine Amazonian countries so far this year is down 56 percent from the same period a year ago, in a major turnaround for a region that's vital to curbing climate change, reports Reuters. And, last week, Brazil launched its $205 million Arc of Restoration program to restore degraded woodlands amounting to 23,000 square miles (60,000 km2) in the Amazon by 2030. Saying: 'Avoiding deforestation is no longer the answer to the climate crisis. We need to be more ambitious.'
That's it, you're up to date!