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POSITIVE NEWS - What went right this week: making Holland fairer, plus more positive news

Posted 10th September 2021 • Written by •

Dutch cities announced plans to make homes more affordable, efforts to save tuna paid off, and the world’s largest carbon capture factory launched in Iceland, plus more positive news

Dutch cities mooted move to make homes more affordable

Cities in the Netherlands are planning to prohibit property investors from snapping up houses in some neighbourhoods, in a bid to make homes more affordable for ordinary working people. 

According to NOS, a Dutch public service broadcaster, Amsterdam (main picture) and Utrecht are among the cities planning to prevent investors from buying cheap and mid-price properties. The legislation needed to make that happen is due to come into effect on 1 January 2022.

A third of homes sold in the four largest Dutch cities were bought by investors in 2020, according to Dutch News. This encouraged first-time buyers to take greater financial risks, or prevented them from getting on the ladder in the first place, reported the newspaper. 

Supporters of the legislation said that it would make neighbourhoods more affordable, and allow more people to own their own homes. Critics warned that it would reduce the amount of cheap properties on the rental market. 

Tuna have come back from the brink, said scientists

They were heading towards extinction a decade ago, but this week it was announced that four tuna species have bounced back from the brink.

The conservation win was announced by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which updated its red list of threatened species this week. The organisation said the turnaround was thanks to the introduction of fishing quotas and a crackdown on illegal fishing. 

“[This is] proof that sustainable fisheries approaches work, with enormous long-term benefits for livelihoods and biodiversity,” said the IUCN’s Dr Bruce Collette. 

The positive news was tempered by data that revealed 37 per cent of the world’s sharks and rays are threatened with extinction.

“Despite increasing pressures on our oceans, species can recover if states truly commit to sustainable practices,” said Dr Bruno Oberle, IUCN director general.

The world’s largest carbon capture factory went live

A factory that sucks CO2 out of the air launched in Iceland this week. 

Orca is capable of drawing 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere annually, according to Climeworks, the firm running the facility. The gas will be converted into rock and stored below ground. 

Although 4,000 tonnes is a tiny amount compared to the billions that have already been emitted, Climeworks said that its facility is scalable and represents “a milestone in the direct air capture industry”. 

Proponents of carbon capture technology believe that it will play a vital role in stabilising the climate. However, critics fear that it could take the urgency out of reducing emissions now, which is the best solution to the climate crisis.

KPMG pledged to recruit more working-class staff

The accounting firm KPMG has become the first big business in the UK to publish a socio-economic pay gap, which measures the salary disparity between employees from different backgrounds.

KPMG reported an 8.6 per cent median pay gap between employees from working-class backgrounds and those from middle-class families. The firm pledged to address that, adding that it wanted 29 per cent of its partners and directors to come from working-class backgrounds by 2030.

Nik Miller, chief executive of the Bridge Group, a non-profit that promotes social equality, said: “Progress in diversity and inclusion requires robust evidence and practical action. In publishing pay gaps by socio-economic background for the first time, KPMG is leading the way. We hope that this will inspire others to follow suit.” 

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