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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: UK gets low-cost rail, plus more positive news

Posted 22nd October 2021 • Written by •

The UK got its first low-cost rail service, New Zealand passed a landmark climate law, and a rare owl was photographed for the first time, plus more positive news

The UK got its first low-cost rail service

A low-cost, low-carbon rail service launched in the UK this week, promising a greener, cheaper, more comfortable alternative to flying on the UK’s busiest domestic route. 

The inaugural Lumo service pulled out of King’s Cross station in London at 10.45 on Thursday morning, arriving in Edinburgh 4.5 hours later. Tickets on the all-electric trains cost from £14.90, with free wifi included.

Lumo said that its service is “a blueprint for low-carbon, affordable long-distance travel in the UK” at a time when the UK needs to drastically reduce transport emissions. 

Rail expert, Mark Smith, who runs the Man in Seat 61 train travel blog, was on board the first service. He was racing Simon Calder, the travel editor of the Independent, who flew. And the winner? Calder, but by just 15 minutes. 

New Zealand passed a landmark climate reporting law

Legislation passed in New Zealand this week means that financial firms will have to come clean about their exposure to the climate crisis. 

Under the law, banks, insurers and investment companies will have to disclose the risks and opportunities presented to them by global heating. 

“Climate-related disclosures will bring climate risks and resilience into the heart of financial and business decision-making,” said climate change minister James Shaw. “It will encourage entities to become more sustainable by factoring the short, medium, and long-term effects of climate change into their business decisions.” 

New Zealand is the first country to pass such legislation.

Sticking with New Zealand…

In a win for inclusivity, the country appointed its first female Māori governor-general on Wednesday.  

Dame Cindy Kiro (pictured) will be responsible for carrying out constitutional duties on behalf of the British monarch, who is the head of state. Kiro vowed to use the job to reach out to marginalised communities.   

“I will connect to new migrants and former refugees, and celebrate the many diverse cultures and religions gifted to our nation by those who have chosen to make New Zealand their home,” she said. 

Major retailers committed to zero-carbon shipping

Amazon, Ikea and Unilever were among the retailers that pledged this week to switch all of their ocean freight to zero-carbon vessels by 2040.

The announcement increases pressure on the shipping industry to decarbonise. There is an urgent need to do so: if the sector was a country, it would be the sixth biggest polluter, above Germany. 

Stand Earth, a Canadian environmental group, welcomed the move, but called for the deadline to be brought forward to 2030. “This earlier goal would ensure the shipping industry does its fair share to keep global warming under 1.5C,” it said. 

Green hydrogen is one promising zero-emissions alternative to fossil fuels, but the technology is in its infancy. Battery-powered boats are at sea already in Scandinavia, but are not suitable for long distances. 

Meantime, other companies are going back to the future by embracing wind-powered shipping. 

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