Prince William launched a prize to repair the planet, insect farming was given a boost in the UK and research debunked the myth that cities are unfriendly, plus other positive news
Prince William and Sir David Attenborough have launched a £50m prize to inspire positive solutions to environmental problems, chiefly the climate crisis.
The Earthshot Prize will make five awards of £1m each year to individuals and organisations whose innovations help repair the planet. With £50m awarded over 10 years, it is the biggest environmental prize ever.
“The Earthshot prize is really about harnessing that optimism and that urgency to find some of the world’s solutions to some of the greatest environmental problems,” Prince William told the BBC. “From communities, schools, right up to banks, governments, corporations – anyone and everyone is a part of this and anyone could find the solutions that we need.”
Image: Hans Jurgen Mager
Around a quarter of NHS staff are non-British nationals and many have been on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic. A disproportionate number have lost their lives to the disease.
A new exhibition at London’s Migration Museum, titled Heart of the Nation, celebrates the foreign-born workers who have dedicated themselves to the NHS since its creation. The retrospective features personal stories of caregivers and explores the challenges they faced at work.
“Heart of the Nation highlights the vital role that migrants have always played in the NHS and the extent to which, just like the NHS, migration is central to the very fabric of who we are in Britain – as individuals, as communities and as a nation,” said curator Aditi Anand. “Now more than ever, this is a story that needs to be told.”
Image: JC Gellidon
A pilot insect farm in London that was featured in Positive News magazine earlier this year has been awarded £10m by the UK government to help it scale up. Tucked away under London Bridge station, Entocycle fattens up insects – black soldier flies – on waste food from local businesses before turning them into animal feed.
Entocycle claims the insects have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than alternative animal feed, such as imported soy, which fuels deforestation in South America.
The £10m will fund a new insect farm outside London, which Entocycle says could process 33,000 tonnes of food waste annually. “The idea is to have hundreds of them across the UK,” founder Keiran Whitaker (pictured), told Positive News. It won’t be a silver bullet, though, he adds. “Ultimately people need to eat less meat.”
Image: Gavin Haines
Offshore wind energy will power every home in the UK within a decade, prime minister Boris Johnson promised on Tuesday. He pledged £160m to upgrade ports and factories building wind turbines in a bid to drive growth in the sector.
“Your kettle, your washing machine, your cooker, your heating, your plug-in electric vehicle – the whole lot of them will get their juice cleanly and without guilt from the breezes that blow around these islands,” he said.
Johnson’s rhetoric was welcomed by the renewables industry. However, with homes accounting for only around a third of the UK’s electricity demand, environmentalists said more needed to be done to decarbonise the economy.
Image: Waldemar Brandt
London, Paris and New York are among the many cities that have a reputation for unfriendliness; a reputation that could be ill-deserved, according to a new report, which found urbanites are as friendly and helpful as people living in towns and villages.
Psychologists from University College London conducted a series of experiments, including pretending to drop things and seeing if anyone came to help, in 37 locations in England, Scotland and Wales. They found no evidence that city dwellers were less willing to offer assistance.
The research is positive news for metropolitans. However, the report’s conclusion was overshadowed by another finding: that help was less forthcoming in deprived areas. Researchers suggested this could be because trust levels fall as poverty worsens.
Image: Luca Bravo
The European parliament voted this week to be more ambitious about slashing the bloc’s carbon emissions. It backed a 60 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (relative to 1990 levels) by 2030, up from 40 per cent pledged previously.
The text will now go to the EU Council of Ministers, which represents the EU’s 27 member states, for final approval.
The decision was welcomed by climate campaigners, but many said it wasn’t ambitious enough. In a post on Medium, Greta Thunberg claimed a 60 per cent decrease was “nowhere near enough” to keep warming below the 1.5C target set out by the Paris climate agreement.
London’s infamously dirty air is getting cleaner, according to a report published by the mayor’s office. Its research, reviewed by scientists, suggests there has been a 94 per cent reduction in the number of people living in areas with illegal levels of nitrogen oxide since 2016.
The report also claimed that carbon emissions have fallen by 6 per cent in London’s Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), introduced in 2019 to cut pollution. Drivers of cars that don’t meet ULEZ emissions standards must pay a daily fee of £12.50 to drive in the zone. The ULEZ is due to be expanded to cover much of the capital in October 2021.
Falls in air pollution seen during the coronavirus lockdown were not included in the report.
Image: Benjamin Davies
Main image: Ishan @seefromthesky