India outlawed some plastics, Ecuador’s Indigenous groups claimed a ‘monumental’ victory, and Sierra Leone moved to boost reproductive rights, plus more
India, the world’s most populous country after China, has become the latest nation to ban some single-use plastics.
Cups, straws and ice cream sticks are among 19 plastic items outlawed at the weekend. Campaigners welcomed the ban as a “good beginning”. More items are set to be added to the list in the coming years.
With a population of 1.4 billion people, the legislation could have a huge impact on plastic pollution in a country where it is a major problem.
India’s ban is the latest sign of progress in tackling the scourge of plastic waste. In March, world leaders from 175 nations agreed to draw up a treaty to end plastic pollution by 2024. Here are four reasons to be optimistic about it.
Image: D Studio
Millions of acres of Amazon rainforest should now be safe from mining, after Ecuador’s government agreed to prohibit extraction projects on protected and Indigenous land.
The commitment was made last weekend following 18 days of protests that turned violent and crippled the Ecuadorian economy. The government also promised to halt a decree that sought to double oil production across the country.
Amazon Frontlines, a non-profit that advocates for Indigenous peoples, described the outcome as “a historic victory for the climate and Indigenous rights”. It added: “We must now remain vigilant and keep up the pressure to ensure the government stays true to its commitments.”
The news follows a 2021 ruling by Ecuador’s highest court, which said plans to mine in a protected cloud forest violated the rights of nature.
Ministers in Sierra Leone have backed a bill that seeks to improve women’s access to contraception and end a colonial-era law criminalising abortion.
Rights groups have campaigned for years to reform abortion law in Sierra Leone, which has one of the world’s highest rates of teenage pregnancies.
“At a time when sexual and reproductive health rights for women are either being overturned or threatened, we are proud that Sierra Leone can once again lead with progressive reforms,” said President Bio, referring to the US supreme court’s decision to overturn the right to abortion.
A similar bill was blocked by a previous administration, but is widely expected to pass following a debate in parliament.
Image: Annie Spratt
Rhinos are roaming Mozambique again for the first time in more than four decades.
Nineteen white rhinos were relocated from South Africa to Mozambique’s Zinave national park this week. Black rhinos are set to follow.
Zinave has seen a remarkable reversal in its fortunes in recent years. Trashed during Mozambique’s long civil war, it has benefited from a series of species reintroductions and is now the only park in the country where the big five (elephant, rhino, lion, leopard and buffalo) roam.
Image: Andrew Liu
A thermal battery that uses sand to store heat went live in Finland this week, offering a potential solution to green energy’s ‘intermittency problem’.
The first-of-its-kind installation in Vatajankoski, western Finland, can store heat at high temperatures for months at a time. In winter, it will warm homes via a district heating system using green energy generated during summer.
“Heat storage can significantly help to increase intermittent renewables in the electrical grid,” said Markku Ylönen, co-founder of Polar Night Energy, the firm behind the project. “Our system has even more potential than we initially calculated. It’s been a positive surprise.”
Image: Polar Night Energy
In a world first, the Dutch government has announced a cap on flights at one of Europe’s busiest airports – a policy designed to reduce aviation’s carbon footprint.
From the end of 2023, Schiphol airport, Europe’s third busiest, must limit the number of flights each year to 440,000. That’s 12 per cent less than in 2019.
Climate groups described the announcement as a “historical breakthrough”. However, critics questioned its effectiveness and claimed it would stymie an industry already reeling from the pandemic.
The policy is the first serious sign of a government attempting to rein in aviation, which before Covid was the world’s fastest growing source of emissions.
Image: Cardmapr NL
Cancer patients in England will be the first in the world to benefit from chemotherapy drugs delivered by drone, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) announced this week.
In what is believed to be a groundbreaking trial, chemo medication will be flown by drone from mainland England to the Isle of Wight. According to the NHS, the aircraft will cut delivery times, reduce costs and shrink emissions. They are due to take to the skies in the coming weeks.
NHS chief executive Amanda Pritchard said: “Delivering chemo by drone is another extraordinary development for cancer patients and shows how the NHS will stop at nothing to ensure people get the treatment they need as promptly as possible – while also cutting costs and carbon emissions.”
There was some good news this week for people who struggle to exercise regularly: a weekend bout of brisk activity was found to be as effective as frequent running.
That’s according to a US study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal. It tracked 350,000 people over a decade to see how so-called ‘weekend warriors’ fared versus those who broke a sweat daily. Its verdict? That the type and total weekly amount of exercise is more important than frequency.
At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise – or 75 minutes of vigorous activity – is recommended each week. Participants who achieved that, whether during the whole week or just at the weekend, had lower a death risk than those who did not.
Image: Bruno Nascimento
The gentle thud of Positive News magazine landing on doormats rang out across the UK (and beyond) this week, as the new issue was dispatched.
As ever, the latest mag is packed with uplifting stories and inspirational people, including the ‘gleaners’ who are putting surplus crops to good use.
The new issue also features the radical recruitment firm making society more equal, the sailboat helping boost mental health, and the boom in community growers transforming overlooked spaces into veg gardens.
“The stories in this issue show the power of what can be achieved with the simple tools available to all of us: some grit, some compassion and a vision to change things for the better,” said acting editor Daisy Greenwell.
Main image: Sylwia Bartyzel
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