Good Tythings

15th April 2024

Erin LynchErin Lynch

Cherry-picked stories of progress and innovation in the fight against climate change.

Encouraging trends

Community-driven innovation

  • Drought resistant wall built built by small Indian farming community yielding incredible results

    In 2022, hundreds of villagers in Surajpura, Rajasthan built a 15ft, mile-long mud bulwark and trench to prevent rainwater run-off, and channel water to drought-prone farms. One year later, it passed its first test, and since then it has enabled the farms to operate for the first time in two decades. Wildlife is thriving and villagers who left to find work have returned to their farms.

  • Wiltshire farm to launch the largest grassland rewilding project in southern England

    In the face of falling profits and unpredictable climate, this spring, Lower Pertwood farm in the Salisbury Plain began a remarkable transformation towards nature-based farming and biodiversity renewal. The Pertwood Project will introduce low-density grazing with pigs and cattle alongside other interventions such as adding green hay and brash piles to promote seed dispersal to try and restore the flower-rich chalk grassland and foster biodiversity. By reducing reliance on fertilisers and machinery, the farm expects to cut costs significantly while generating income through the sale of organic beef and pork, as well as potential future revenues from carbon and biodiversity credits. The project is made financially viable by the government's countryside stewardship scheme.

Positive policy

  • EU ministers approve groundbreaking deal to compensate victims and hold polluters accountable

    Last week, EU ministers approved a deal that would enable victims whose health has been affected by illegal pollution to be compensated. The Industrial Emissions Directive (IED) has been applauded by ClientEarth, who hope that if the deal is implemented effectively, will help boost compliance, reduce pollution, and ensure that affected individuals stand a chance to seek justice in court.

  • University of Cambridge halts fossil fuel funding

    The University of Cambridge has temporarily stopped accepting donations from fossil fuel companies, setting a new standard for environmental responsibility in higher education. The decision comes after a wave of protests over the past few years. An independent report commissioned by the University found that no fossil fuel companies aligned with its net-zero emissions target for 2038. The University previously received £19.7m from oil giants BP and Shell between 2016 and 2023.

  • Under pressure UK government announces ‘Water Restoration Fund’

    After facing the biggest protests in decades last week, the UK government has allocated £11m to ‘The Water Restoration Fund’, a new initiative for environmental restoration projects in areas affected by sewage pollution.

    The money, which is collected from fines levied against sewage-spilling water companies, will be made available to community action groups, farmers, and landowners. Critics call the fund ‘a drop in the ocean’ — with water companies estimating themselves that it will take £60b of investment to fix the sewage crisis.

  • US makes monumental pledge to protect millions from ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

    The US Environmental Protection Agency announced a $1b investment through President Biden’s Investing in America programme to address PFAS in drinking water. The investment represents the first-ever national, legally enforceable drinking water standard intended to protect communities from harmful per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also known as ‘forever chemicals.’ It is estimated the measure will reduce PFAS exposure for approximately 100 million people, prevent thousands of deaths, and reduce tens of thousands of serious illnesses.

Innovation in tech

  • Breakthrough: Danish scientists create meat-like protein fibres from algae

    Danish researchers have developed a method to produce meat-like protein fibres using sustainable cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) by inserting genes that make the algae create fibrous protein strands resembling meat texture. With further work, it’s hoped technology could become the ultimate way to make protein for plant-based meats and cheeses.

  • ‘Cooling Paint’ helps cities manage rising temperatures

    ‘Cool paint coatings’ could help cities feel up to 1.5c cooler according to a new study by researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The first-of-its-kind study achieved impressive results during a two-month period in a trial area of the city. The paint may provide a ‘minimally intrusive solution for urban cooling’ — a quick, cheap and easy way to combat some of the effects of increasing heat waves.