Image for What went right this week: calling time on greenwashing and the power of yoga

What went right this week: calling time on greenwashing and the power of yoga

The UK called time on greenwashing, mushrooms showed their magic, and yoga was identified as a cancer fighter, plus more good news

The UK called time on greenwashing, mushrooms showed their magic, and yoga was identified as a cancer fighter, plus more good news

This week’s good news roundup

A watchdog acted on fossil fuel ‘greenwashing’

Oil giant Shell has been slapped down for a “misleading” ad campaign touting its green credentials.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned its ‘Cleaner Energy’ ads – promoting car chargers and renewables supply – saying they should have better reflected the firm’s huge role in gas and oil extraction. 

Campaign group AdFree Cities brought the claim, pointing out that at the time of the ads, Shell’s spend on green energy was just 1.25 per cent of its total revenue, which hit £200bn in 2021. The ASA also looked at ads from Petronas and Repsol. In both cases the watchdog ruled the fossil fuel operators had misled. 

AdFree Cities co-director Veronica Wignall said the ruling was “the end of the line for fossil fuel greenwashing in the UK” and told Positive News the sector deserved the same treatment as the tobacco industry. 

“We stopped advertising tobacco because we knew how harmful it was,” she said. “We know how harmful fossil fuels are for the planet, our health and our future. We need to stop advertising that promotes and greenwashes them.”

Image: Angela Christofilou/Adfree Cities

Good news
Mushroom for carbon? There is underground

Scientists have discovered how a ‘jaw-dropping’ subterranean carbon sink made entirely of fungi pulls down more than a third of global CO2 emissions each year – enough to cancel out China’s annual toll.

Mycorrhizal fungi networks hold 13 gigatons of CO2, making them the “most effective carbon capture storage unit in the world,” according to experts at the University of Sheffield, UK, who led the study.  

Researchers said that fungi deserves a better standing in conservation efforts, and called for soil ecosystems to be preserved. 

“Mycorrhizal fungi represent a blind spot in carbon modelling, conservation, and restoration,” said Prof Katie Field, the study’s co-author. “The numbers we’ve uncovered are jaw-dropping. When we’re thinking about solutions for climate, we should also be thinking about what we can harness that exists already.”

Image: Nick Fewings

good news
Studies revealed the power of yoga over cancer

A twice-weekly dose of yoga can help keep cancer in check, a new study has found. 

Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Centre, US, say the ancient practice should be available on prescription for cancer survivors after discovering how it helps prevent the disease recurring and spreading. 

Inflammation in cancer patients places a toxic burden on the body and can aid the spread and growth of tumours. But in a study of 500 cancer patients, a randomised group who did two 75-minute yoga sessions each week for a month had “significantly lower levels of pro-inflammatory markers.”

A second study, also from the University of Rochester, revealed how yoga could help combat fatigue and maintain quality of life for cancer patients. And a third, based on six years of research in Brazil, suggested that an active lifestyle can reduce the risk of dying from cancer by a fifth. 

Image: RDNE Stock project 

Speaking of keeping cancer in check...

Trials of a new blood test have shown that it could speed up tumour diagnoses and lead to faster treatment. 

The Galleri test appears capable of detecting 50 types of early-stage cancer, often before symptoms show, by flagging up fragments of tumour DNA, even pinpointing where in the body they originated.  

In trials led by the University of Oxford and the National Health Service (NHS) in England, and involving almost 5,500 people with suspected cancer, it correctly identified two-thirds of cases. In the vast majority of positive diagnoses – 85 per cent – it also revealed the site of the cancer. 

NHS England’s national director for cancer, Prof Peter Johnson, said: “Early detection of cancer is vital, and this test could help us to catch more cancers at an earlier stage and help save thousands of lives.”

Image: Tatiana/Pixabay 

Net fishing to be banned on the Great Barrier Reef

Gillnet fishing on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is to be phased out within four years as part of a multi-million dollar conservation package. 

The nets hang vertically in the water, trapping fish by their gills. But they come with a heavy bycatch toll, indiscriminately snaring dugongs, dolphins, turtles and threatened sharks.

After years of campaigning by conservation groups, the federal and Queensland governments have announced a AU$160m (£86) plan to ban them by mid-2027. The fund will be used to buy out existing commercial gillnet licences, with the majority shelved by the end of the year. Meanwhile, hammerhead sharks will be declared off-limits for commercial fishers. 

Dermot O’Gorman, CEO of Worldwide Fund for Nature Australia, said: “If all goes to plan, by June 2027 we’ll have a net-free reef where dugongs, turtles, dolphins and other threatened species can swim without the threat of becoming entangled and drowning in a gillnet, and that’s a cause for global celebration.”

Image: Daniel Pelaez Duque 

good news
There was a ray of sunshine for UK conservation

A biodiversity survey has shone a light on an added benefit of the UK’s solar farms – besides generating clean energy, they can be wildlife havens, too. 

Trade association Solar Energy UK partnered with Lancaster University to study 37 sites across the UK – and discovered plants, birds, mammals and invertebrates are thriving among the solar panels. 

Linnets (pictured) – a bird on the conservation red list – were found at more than half the sites, alongside yellowhammers and skylarks. The report suggested solar farms are ‘ideal habitats for’ for dwindling brown hare populations, with the creature spotted at almost a quarter of sites. 

Rachel Hayes of Solar Energy said: “Wildlife can benefit hugely from developing solar farms, providing a variety of habitats and raising the numbers of some of our most threatened species while pushing us towards net zero.”

Image: Amee Fairbank-Brown

Good news
AI lent a hand in the climate fight

Artificial intelligence has come in for some stick lately, but it’s proving a boon for a global team of educators, who are using algorithms to spread the word on climate change.

Three quarters of scientific publications are released in English. Climate Cardinals’ youth-led network of 9,000 volunteers takes this source material and painstakingly translates it into more than 40 languages, along with climate glossaries, UN documents and official reports. 

They’ve been trialling Google’s new AI-powered Translation Hub – and achieved in three months what had previously taken them two years, translating an additional 500,000 words in the process. 

“The change in pace was immediate,” said Climate Cardinals founder Sophia Kianni. “With the power of AI, we can create a world in which language barriers in climate information are a thing of the past.”

Image: Markus Spiske

good news
An e-lorry made history (with some precious cargo)

A Scottish distillery is raising a glass to an electric future by piloting deliveries of its whisky by E-HGV. 

Scotland’s first electric heavy goods vehicle is being trialled by Chivas Brothers for transporting casks on the 50-mile round-trip between its bottling plant and warehouse. 

The Volvo tractor unit can haul some 24 tonnes of whisky at a time and its battery holds enough power to make the journey five times a day before an overnight recharge. The move will cut Chivas’ CO2 emissions by 150 tonnes a year, the firm said. 

“Whisky is enjoyed by millions across the globe, but it is crucial that we work toward ensuring that the future of our most popular export is both carbon neutral and sustainable,” said Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s cabinet secretary for rural affairs.

Image: Chivas Brothers

big commune old hall
Communes offered a model for modern living 

There’s been a boom in interest in communal living in recent years. Could it be the answer to some of the crises of modernity?

This week, we found out by visiting communes for a new series. First stop was Amsterdam, where a floating eco-community has taken shape on one of the city’s canals. 

Then we headed to an English manor house that has been reborn as a thriving commune. Is it really the good life? Find out here.

Image: Pål Hansen
Main image: LeoPatrizi/iStock

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What went right previously