The EU agreed a landmark law to halt deforestation, working less was found to be good for business, and France banned domestic flights, plus more positive news
This week’s positive news roundup
In a move hailed a “major breakthrough for forests”, the EU has approved legislation banning goods linked to deforestation.
Businesses will have to show that their products have not contributed to tree loss if they want to sell them in the bloc. The new law will apply to companies selling soy, beef, palm oil, wood, rubber, cocoa and coffee, plus some derived products like leather, chocolate and furniture. It is expected to be rubber stamped next year.
“This is a major breakthrough for forests, and for the people who stood up to protect them,” said Greenpeace’s John Hyland. “This law will make some chainsaws fall silent and stop companies profiting from deforestation.”
However, Greenpeace criticised the EU nations for adding loopholes for their own logging industries, and not doing enough to protect the rights of Indigenous groups, who “pay with their blood to defend nature”. Business groups said the measures could stymie trade.
Image: Ricardo Pereira
Expect to see more of them in the UK, where a ‘mini forest’ revolution is gathering pace.
Tiny pockets of land across the country are being transformed using a groundbreaking technique that aims to build ecosystems rather than simply plant trees.
Earthwatch Europe, an environmental charity based in Oxford, has plans to plat 500 mini forests across the UK by 2030. Other countries have similar ambitions.
Read the full story here.
Image: Earthwatch Europe
Same-sex marriage is now protected by US federal law. Congress approved legislation guaranteeing federal recognition of gay and interracial marriages in a vote on Thursday.
The bill was born out of concern that the supreme court could reverse its support for same-sex marriage as it did with abortion rights.
The measure will now go to US president Joe Biden to be signed into law. The Respect for Marriage Act, as it is called, won Senate approval last month.
Image: Alexander Grey
The European Commission has given France the nod to ban domestic flights on routes where there’s a train alternative that takes less than 2.5 hours.
The move is mostly symbolic. The International Council of Clean Transportation told Positive News that it will only affect a small number of flights, equating to around three per cent of the country’s domestic aviation emissions.
Nonetheless, supporters say the law sets an example for other countries to follow, and could help accelerate innovation in sustainable aviation technology. Before the pandemic, aviation was the world’s fastest growing source of CO2.
The law was proposed by a citizens’ assembly. According to EuroNews, it also includes a crackdown on private jet use.
Image: Philip Myrtorp
It is the UK’s cheapest source of electricity, but onshore wind has long been stymied by planning laws. Not for much longer, perhaps.
This week, the UK government pledged to relax restrictions on onshore wind following threats of a rebellion from Conservative MPs.
Exact details are unclear, but it marks a welcome change of direction. The government has been accused of putting the concerns of ‘nimby’ (not in my back yard) objectors over energy security and climate targets.
New wind farms would still be subject to local approval.
Image: Luke Thornton
They say that necessity is the mother of invention. Enter the Earthshot Prize. It launched last year to fund projects that save the planet.
On Sunday, it revealed its latest winners at an awards do presented by Prince William. Between them, the victorious startups turn CO2 in rocks, protect coral reefs, use seaweed to make sustainable packaging, use regenerative agriculture to boost yields, and provide cleaner-burning stoves to women in Kenya.
Each winner will receive £1m ($1.2m) to develop their innovation. Read more about the winners here.
Image: Oleksandr Sushko
Long Covid has baffled medical professionals, leaving those who have it without effective treatment. A new app could help.
Visible collects heart rate data from users to build up a picture of how their symptoms fluctuate over time, potentially offering a path to better treatment. It was co-developed by Harry Leeming, who has long Covid.
It’s not the only app offering assistance. University College London has developed one called Lungy, which helps people with Covid, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease do breathing exercises.
A study found that as many as two million people in the UK have long Covid. Behind the numbers are stories of pain and frustration.
Image: Alex Suprun
One of the world’s largest four-day week trials has concluded. The verdict? None of the participating firms wants to go back to a five-day week.
The trial involved 33 companies and 1,000 employees in the US, Ireland, Australia and beyond. Staff were paid their regular salaries for fewer hours.
Participating firms reported increased revenue, reduced absenteeism and fewer resignations. Workers said they felt less stressed and burnt out, and reported higher rates of life satisfaction.
Read the full story here.
Image: Brooke Cagle
Main image: Diego Guzman
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