A global prize recognised trailblazing eco activists, beavers made history in England and the world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative was launched, plus more positive news
Activists who led successful campaigns against coal power plants, plastic bags and oil drilling in the Amazon were among the winners of this year’s Goldman environmental prize, a global award for environmental activism.
Highlighting the power of individual action, the six victors were: Chibeze Ezekiel (pictured left), a Ghanaian anti-coal campaigner; Kristal Ambrose, an anti-plastic activists from the Bahamas; Leydy Pech, a Mayan beekeeper who fought Monsanto and won; Lucie Pinson, a French anti-coal activist; Amazon defender Nemonte Nenquimo from Ecuador (main picture); and conservationist Paul Sein Twa from Myanmar.
“These six environmental champions reflect the powerful impact that one person can have on many,” said John Goldman, president of the Goldman Environmental Foundation.
Image: Goldman Environmental Prize
The leaders of 14 countries have pledged to end overfishing, restore fish stocks and stop pollution from entering their waters, in what has been described as the world’s biggest ocean sustainability initiative.
The nations – Australia, Canada, Chile, Fiji, Ghana, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Namibia, Norway, Palau and Portugal – may be few, but together they are responsible for around 40 per cent of the world’s shores.
The countries, members of the High Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy, also pledged to eliminate illegal fishing and end subsidies that contribute to overfishing by 2025.
Image: Francesco Ungaro
Farmers in England will be paid to boost biodiversity on their land as part of the “biggest farming shake-up in 50 years”, the government has announced.
The £1.6bn subsidy that English farmers currently receive from the EU for working the land is to be phased out by 2028. Instead, landowners will receive funds to restore habitats, create woodlands, improve soil and cut pesticide use.
The EU’s common agricultural policy is regarded across both sides of the Brexit divide as a disaster for wildlife. Environmentalists and farmers cautiously welcomed the new plans, but claimed more details were needed.
Image: Peter Ford
Sending live animals abroad to be fattened up and slaughtered will be banned in England and Wales under new plans being considered by the UK government.
The RSPCA said the move would be “a landmark achievement for animal welfare”. The National Farmers’ Union warned it would impact the UK’s food supply chain. Northern Ireland will not be covered by the ban; Scotland is conducting its own consultation on animal exports. It is understood the measures exclude poultry.
EU member states are not allowed to ban live animal exports, according to the UK government, which could introduce the ban as early as 2021. If it comes into force, England and Wales would become the first nations in Europe to outlaw live animal exports.
Image: Jakob Cotton
They have been labouring for weeks. Now Exmoor’s beavers have finally completed their first construction project in more than 400 years: a dam on the National Trust’s Holnicote Estate in Somerset, where the tree-gnawing animals were reintroduced earlier this year.
“We’ve already spotted kingfishers at the site, and over time, as the beavers extend their network of dams and pools, we should see increased opportunities for other wildlife, including amphibians, insects, bats and birds,” said the National Trust’s Ben Eardley.
Wiped out by hunters in the 16th century, beavers are staging a comeback in the UK thanks to various rewilding projects, as previously reported on by Positive News magazine.
Image: Cheryl Reynolds/Creative Commons
There was more positive news for the UK’s developing hydrogen sector this week, with the announcement that hundreds of homes in Fife will be fitted with free hydrogen boilers and cooking appliances.
Ofgem has awarded £18m to the project in a bid to help wean the UK off gas. Covering 300 homes and lasting four years, the Fife pilot will be the largest hydrogen test project in the UK.
With around one third of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from central heating, finding alternatives to gas will be imperative if the UK is to honour its commitment of being a net-zero economy by 2050.
Image: He Gong
The UK has become the first country to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, which has been found to offer 95 per cent protection against Covid-19.
The vaccine is one of a number of inoculations developed to tackle coronavirus, which has claimed almost 1.5m lives and destroyed many more livelihoods.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the fastest ever produced, taking only 10 months to follow steps that normally take 10 years or more.
Image: Daniel Schludi
Main image: Jeronimo Zuñiga, Amaon Frontlines