Image for What went right this week: a bank’s (timely) retreat from oil, plus more

What went right this week: a bank’s (timely) retreat from oil, plus more

A major UK bank pledged to stop funding new fossil fuel projects, the cycle revolution gathered pace, and a new test raised hopes for catching cancer early, plus more positive news

A major UK bank pledged to stop funding new fossil fuel projects, the cycle revolution gathered pace, and a new test raised hopes for catching cancer early, plus more positive news

This week’s Positive News roundup

Positive news
Lloyds pledged to stop funding new fossil fuel projects

In a move made timely by political events in the UK, Lloyds Banking Group announced on Thursday that it would stop funding new oil and gas projects – the first major UK bank to do so. 

In its updated policy, Lloyds said: “We will not provide financing to new clients in the oil and gas sector unless it is for viable projects into renewable energies and transition technologies, and clients have credible transition plans.”

The development came after a fractious vote on fracking helped to topple the UK prime minister Liz Truss, who had been trying to expand fossil fuel projects.

Share Action, the responsible investment charity, was among those welcoming the move by Lloyds, but said the bank could go further as its policy still permits general lending to fossil fuel firms.

“Lloyds has set a new standard for the UK banking industry by committing to stop directly financing new oil and gas fields,” the charity’s Jeanne Martin told Positive News. “We commend the bank for doing so and urge major UK banks such as Barclays and HSBC to swiftly follow suit.

“However, asset-level financing is only a fraction of the financing provided by banks to new oil and gas. Lloyds should not rest on its laurels, but instead urgently turn its focus to the companies behind these new oil and gas fields.” 

Image: Arvind Vallabh

Positive news
The UK’s two-wheeled revolution gathered pace

The UK’s love affair with cycling has stepped up a gear, according to new figures.  

Analysis of transport data by The Times revealed that cycling levels over the summer were 54 per cent higher than pre-pandemic – and 11 per cent higher than the summer of 2020, when people were told to avoid public transport.

The analysis coincided with a report by the active travel charity Sustrans. It calculated that walking and cycling generated £36.5bn for the UK economy in 2021, partly by reducing congestion, which is a drag on the economy, and partly by improving public health. 

Image: Arthur Edelmans

Positive news
A new test offered hope for catching cancer early

Scientists have developed a new test that could help improve survival rates for cervical cancer. 

Currently in the early stages of development, the test can more accurately detect cell changes that may lead to cervical cancer. It also picks up DNA markers for other cancers, which in theory means it could one day be used as a predictive test for breast, womb and ovarian cancer.

The test is being developed by researchers at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, and University College London, England.

“Building new, holistic, risk-predictive screening programmes around existing, effective cervical sample collection offers real potential for cancer prevention in the future,” said lead researcher Prof Martin Widschwendter.

Image: National Cancer Institute 

Positive news
There was a welcome return to ‘Speedo diplomacy’

The endurance swimmer Lewis Pugh made waves last year when he swam with icebergs to raise awareness about the climate crisis. 

His actions, dubbed ‘Speedo diplomacy’, offered a new take on climate campaigning and drummed up significant publicity ahead of the COP26 climate summit. 

With COP27 around the corner, Pugh has embarked on another challenge: the world’s first swim across the Red Sea. The idea is to highlight the vulnerability of coral reefs and oceans ahead of the climate meeting in Egypt in November.

“Coral reefs are the barometers that illustrate clearly what happens when we heat our planet,” said Pugh. “Every fraction of a degree now matters.”

Image: Lewis Pugh Foundation 

Life returned to Gaza’s beaches and wetlands

Gazans are flocking back to beaches that were once blighted by sewage, offering some good news from a troubled region. 

It’s thanks to a multimillion-dollar project to improve sanitation in the strip, which initially stalled due the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the occupied Palestinian territory. 

Gazan authorities have categorised 65 per cent of their coastline either ‘green’ or ‘yellow’, meaning clean enough for swimming – a vital recreational lifeline for a population whose movement is severely restricted. Wetlands are also being restored. 

Read the full story here. 

Image: Mohammed Salem/Reuters 

The Global Good Awards revealed its winners

In challenging times, it’s heartening to hear about the people, places and projects driving positive change. 

Celebrating these champions of environmental and social progress is the annual Global Good Awards, which has announced its latest winners. 

Offering solutions to the climate crisis, pollution and a lack of social mobility, this year’s champions can be found here.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez

The world’s first floating city took shape

In a turquoise lagoon in the Maldives, a floating city is beginning to take shape, as Positive News reported this week. 

Modelled on the distinctive geometry of the ‘brain coral’ that is common to the Indian Ocean, the sustainable city is being constructed to ease housing pressures in the small island nation, and to provide a liveable future for locals as sea levels rise.

“In the Maldives we cannot stop the waves, but we can rise with them,” said the archipelago’s former prime minister Mohamed Nasheed. 

Read the full story here. 

Image: Waterstudio/Dutch Docklands

A bee photograph created a buzz

An image capturing the moment a group of male bees compete to mate with a single female has won the photographer behind it a prestigious award.

Amid stiff competition, Karine Aigner from the US was declared Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2022. She is only the fifth woman in the competition’s 58-year history to receive the top prize.

The annual award is run by the Natural History Museum in London, where an accompanying exhibition opened at the weekend.

“These images demonstrate their awe of and appreciation for the natural world and the urgent need to take action to protect it,” said the museum’s director Dr Doug Gurr. 

See the other winners here. 

Image: Karine Aigner/Wildlife Photographer of the Year
Main image: Alevision

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