February 26, 2021


From a “super-plant” to beaver reintroductions, here’s what’s making us smile in the world of sustainability this week…   


“Super Plant” found to absorb air pollution


With air pollution a big concern for the modern world, scientists have found that Cotoneaster Franchettii could help absorb pollution on heavily trafficked roads. Known for clusters of bright berries and simple leaves, it has been noted to be at least 20 per cent more effective at soaking up particulate pollution compared to other shrubs, according to a report by the Royal Horticultural Society. 


The research is part of RHS's ongoing project to identify "super plants" that gardeners and city planners can use to help mitigate the impacts of environmental challenges like pollution and the climate crisis. 


Ford pledges to go all-electric in Europe by 2030 


Following suit from General Motors just a few weeks back, Ford has announced that its passenger vehicle line-up in Europe will be all-electric by 2030. This is a direct result of many European countries clamping down on emissions and planning to enforce bans on the sale of new internal combustion engine vehicles. 


Joining a growing list of car brands cutting petrol and diesel production, Ford is investing in electric technology globally, with the announcement making Ford the largest carmaker so far to pledge all-electric sales by 2030 in the European region. 


New Zealand schools to offer free sanitary products 


Every school in New Zealand will be stocked with free period products from June as part of efforts to stamp out period poverty. The scheme emerged from rising concernssaying period poverty meant some students ended up skipping school during their periods because they could not afford the sanitary products to manage them hygienically. 


New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said 1 in 12 young people in New Zealand were missing school because of period poverty and therefore aims to counter this by following in the steps of Scotland by providing free period products. As a result, school attendance is set to increase, having an overall positive impact on children’s wellbeing. 


Beavers set to rewild Britain’s waterways 


Two decades after beavers were first returned to the UK, a record number of beaver introductions are set to take place across the UK this year in an effort to bring back the species.  


Previously hunted to extinction in Britain 400 years ago for their fur, meat and scent glands, The Wildlife Trusts will release 20 beavers in Derbyshire, Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Montgomeryshire, having already released a male and female into an enclosed wetland in Dorset last week. It is hoped that the beavers’ activities will restore valuable wetland habitats which have been missing since their extinction in Britain, as well as boost biodiversity and reduce flood risks. 


Rare Amazonian “Moonflower” blooms for first time in UK 


An extremely rare cactus has flowered for what botanists believe is the first time in the UK. The Moonflower bloomed for just 12 hours at the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens. Native to the rainforests of the Amazon Basin in South America, the moonflower is described as an unusual cactus which spirals around tree trunks with leaf-like flattened stems or pads, climbing up trees to escape floodwater at ground level.  


Although acquired from the Bonn Botanic Garden in Germany in 2015, the moonflower finally bloomed on Saturday afternoon with experts reporting the plant to be 28cm long. With its rarity, Cambridge’s moonflower is believed to be the only specimen of its kind in the UK, with only 13 other botanic gardens in the world possessing their own. 


The US officially rejoins the Paris Agreement 


After 107 days, the United States has officially marked its return to the Paris agreement this week. With President Joe Biden moving to reverse former president Donald Trump’s actions, rejoining the Paris Agreement is a significant step by the Biden administration to reverse the climate policies of the last four years. 


Under the agreement, countries are expected to enhance their commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions every five years with each country involved responsible for meeting its target and reporting this progress regularly. As the world’s second biggest polluter behind China, the return of the US to the climate agreement is a symbolic and important step toward the aggressive action required to stem the tide of climate change.