To bring attention to these positive and optimistic acts, we’re sharing a monthly roundup of our favourite good-news stories. These highlight any uplifting stories, useful resources, or promising scientific advancements, and help finish the month with a healthful dose of the positive.
EU ministers approved landmark climate measures
Fraught negotiations in Luxembourg on Wednesday brought the EU a step closer to implementing landmark climate legislation intended to reduce the bloc’s emissions by 55 per cent this decade.
Member states agreed to end the sale of combustion-engine cars in 2035, impose costs on polluting transport and buildings, boost natural carbon sinks, and create a €59bn (£50.6bn) fund to help ease the cost burden on low-income households.
“In the middle of Europe’s biggest energy crisis, we have launched one of the most comprehensive climate packages in EU history,” said German climate minister Robert Habeck. Some member states had pushed for more ambitious targets.
Ministers will negotiate the measures with the European parliament after the summer break. Parliament is expected to push for stronger targets.
It was a welcome sign of progress in a week that also saw the US supreme court limit the government’s power to regulate emissions from power plants.
TikTok users offered ‘safe spaces’ for US women
People living in US states where abortion rights are protected are offering their homes to women in states where bans are imminent.
It follows last week’s decision by the supreme court to overturn Roe v Wade. The 1973 ruling set a precedent for protecting women’s constitutional right to a termination. More than half of US states are now expected to outlaw abortion.
In response, people have taken to TikTok to offer their homes as safe spaces for women looking to travel across state lines for the procedure.
The United Nations Human Rights Council denounced the overturning of Roe v Wade as “a monumental setback for the rule of law and for gender equality”.
Tattoos were developed to monitor blood pressure
Tattoos that monitor blood pressure: it sounds like science fiction, but this week the technology was given a ‘grade A’ rating for accuracy in the US.
Blood pressure is one of the most important indicators of heart health, but it’s tough to frequently and reliably measure.
Enter researchers at the University of Texas Austin and Texas A&M University. They developed a temporary electronic tattoo that can be worn comfortably on the wrist for hours and deliver continuous blood pressure measurements.
Roozbeh Jafari, co-leader of the project, described cuff-less blood pressure monitoring as the “holy grail”. The results of the study were published in Nature Nanotechnology.
Malaysia moved to end the death penalty
Human rights campaigners have welcomed an announcement by the Malaysian government that it will abolish the country’s mandatory death penalty.
It is a rare sign of progress in a region where capital punishment is routinely imposed, even for crimes such as drug offences.
“The death penalty is incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights and dignity,” said the United Nations in a statement. “We will continue to support Malaysia in its efforts towards full abolition.”
An alternative to plastic wrapping was developed
Is this the beginning of the end for plastic packaging? US scientists are optimistic after they developed a biodegradable, plant-based coating that can be sprayed on to foods.
The stringy material is spun from a heating device that resembles a hair dryer and shrink-wrapped over foods. The technology was developed by researchers from Rutgers University, New Jersey.
Philip Demokritou, director of the university’s Nanoscience and Advanced Materials Research Center, said: “We have come up with a scalable technology that enables us to turn biopolymers, which can be derived from food waste, into smart fibres that can wrap food directly.”
Tackling air pollution would boost the UK economy
The UK economy would get a £1.6bn-a-year boost if policies were introduced to bring air pollution levels in line with World Health Organisation (WHO) targets.
That’s according to a report published on Thursday. Compiled by UK100, a network of climate leaders, it claims the economic benefit would come chiefly from healthcare savings. The WHO estimates that 4.2 million people die each year from air pollution globally.
The report urged local authorities to introduce clean air targets and align them with net zero policies. Reducing car ownership and insulating homes were among the recommendations.
“Aligning clean air and climate policies will save lives and money while accelerating net zero progress,” said Polly Billington, chief executive of UK100. “We’re calling on the government to give local authorities the support they need to deliver cleaner air, warmer homes and a more secure future for their communities.”
The EU mandated single charging ports for phones
We’ve all been there. “Can I borrow your charger?” “Sure, it’s Samsung.” “Drat, I’m Apple.”
However, such exchanges will soon be history in the EU, after the bloc pushed ahead with plans to introduce a single charging port for phones, tablets and cameras.
The EU said it would reduce e-waste and save people money as they will no longer need to change chargers every time they switch phones. Apple, which will be forced to adopt the USB-C charging port, said the move would stifle innovation.
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