There were wins for gender inclusivity, a DIY smartphone launched, and renewables reined in emissions, plus more
This week’s good news roundup
For the first time, the proportion of women in boardroom roles at listed British firms has risen above 40 per cent, a report published this week revealed.
FTSE 350 companies were set a 2025 deadline to achieve the 40 per cent target, which they hit three years early. Just over a decade ago, 152 of the 350 listed firms had no women on the board at all.
Progress has not been even, however. Women currently only hold 33.5 per cent of leadership roles below board level.
“Reaching the 40 per cent target for women on boards early is cause for celebration,” the report said. “It also shows that more progress is possible. The powerful combination of clear goals and effective policy has enabled companies to demonstrate their commitment to positive change and reap the rewards of a diverse workforce.”
Image: Brooke Cagle
A record number of women launched a business in the UK last year, despite the gloomy economic outlook.
Some 150,000 firms were created by female entrepreneurs in 2022, more than twice the number of 2018. Female-led companies now represent a fifth of all UK businesses, up from 16 per cent in 2018.
The figures are from the Rose Review 2023, an independent analysis of female entrepreneurship, led by the CEO of NatWest Group, Alison Rose. It suggests that the UK economy could benefit from a £250bn boost if women set up businesses at the same rate as men.
“It’s a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurialism of female founders that they are creating more companies than ever before, and the Rose Review is expanding its support for their work,” said Rose.
“We will continue to provide fresh initiatives offering mentorship, guidance and inspiration for founders, alongside securing new commitments from financial services institutions to make it easier for female-led companies to access vital capital.”
Image: Jennifer Grube
It’s hard to believe now, but not so long ago the idea of using the sun to power your home seemed vaguely eccentric. Many dismissed solar as a serious energy provider.
How things have changed. This week, a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast solar to be the world’s leading source of electricity by 2027. A decade ago it accounted for just 1 per cent of global electricity.
The report also suggested that, by 2027, renewable energy capacity would grow by 30 per cent more than was originally forecast by the IEA last year, due to the energy crisis.
“The world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “This is a clear example of how the current energy crisis can be a historic turning point towards a cleaner and more secure energy system.”
Image: Zbynek Burival
The burning question is whether renewables are reining in emissions. Well, a separate report, also published by the IEA this week, offered answers.
Its headline finding – that energy-related carbon emissions rose to record levels in 2022 – was disappointing. However, it suggested the sub-1 per cent rise was three times lower than expected due to the growth in green energy.
What’s more, the IEA said that Europe’s emissions fell by 2.5 per cent last year, thanks to the roll out of renewables and power saving measures to cut the use of Russian gas.
Coal and oil emissions globally were found to have risen, with aviation and sports utility vehicles driving oil demand. The IEA warned that rapid action was needed to be in with any chance of keeping warming to below 2C.
The EU has pledged to cut emissions by 55 per cent (compared to 1990 levels) by the end of the decade. The US and UK have similar targets.
Image: Matt Artz
For the first time, a river in England could be granted the legal right to good health, writes Isabella Kaminski.
A motion passed by Lewes district council states that the river Ouse’s wellbeing could be secured by recognising its right to flow, to be free of pollution, and to have native biodiversity.
Tapping into the growing international movement to give rights to nature, councillors are now developing a charter for the Ouse based on the Universal Declaration of River Rights, with support from environmental lawyers, wildlife groups and local communities.
The council had already voiced concerns about the impacts of sewage in the Ouse catchment amid growing public anxiety about the health and wellbeing of their waters.
Matthew Bird, the local councillor who filed the motion, described it as “first but important step” towards bestowing rights on the river. He added: “Just getting the concept of ‘rights of nature’ recognised by a council in England is a first as far as I know.”
Many people’s first phone was a Nokia. Can the Finnish firm win us back with its latest release?
Unveiled this week, the G22 was built with repair in mind. The handset has a removable case and internal design that allows components to be easily unscrewed and replaced, including the battery, screen and charging port.
The firm said the G22 was a response to growing demand for products that go the distance. No price has been announced for the handset.
The humble push bike is now king of the road in the City of London. Data released this week suggests that cyclists now outnumber motorists at peak times in London’s historic centre.
An estimated 800,000 journeys a day are now made by bike in the English capital. A recent report by Transport for London suggests that cycle trips are up by a quarter compared to pre-pandemic levels, with an 82 per cent rise recorded at the weekend.
It follows efforts to encourage cycling and deter car use. The City of London cycling data comes amid vociferous debate about low-traffic neighbourhoods and ultra-low emissions zones, which motoring groups oppose.
The destructive impact of wildfires is well documented, but rarely do we see how communities recover. This week, Positive News visited the scene of one of Portugal’s most destructive wildfires to find out how the event had changed the landscape and communities.
In the village of Ferraria de São João, we heard how locals had planted cork trees to help protect them from future fires. But, what started as a fire prevention initiative, has morphed into a wider regeneration effort.
“I’d never say I’m grateful for the fire,” said one villager. “But it’s amazing to look around the village now and see how far we’ve come since then. Really, it surprises me even now.”
Real the full story here.
Image: Oliver Balch
They call her the ‘black mermaid’, but her real name is Zandile Ndhlovu. She is South Africa’s first black freediving instructor and is on a mission to change the narrative about who belongs in the ocean, which many people in her country consider ‘white space’.
“In South Africa, from when you’re young, you’re told endless stories about why you shouldn’t be in the sea,” she told Positive News. “These narratives live in our bodies as black people.”
In response, Ndhlovu has launched a foundation to get more black children in the water, and inspiring them to protect it.
Read the full story here.
Image: Zander Botha
Main image: Green Alley Award
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