Top Stories

February 15, 2022


Harmful levels of drugs found in world’s rivers

Researchers from the University of York have measured the concentration of 61 active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in more than 1,000 global sites, finding harmful levels of drug pollution. The study, which involved 127 researchers from 86 institutions in 36 countries, found that API levels pose a “global threat to environmental and human health” with only two tested sites uncontaminated – Iceland and a Venezuelan village. The most frequently detected APIs were an anti-epileptic drug, carbamazepine, the diabetes drug metformin and caffeine. Antibiotics were found at dangerous levels in one in five sites and many sites also had at least one API at levels considered harmful for wildlife. Researchers highlighted particular concerns about significant levels of antibiotics which can encourage bacteria to develop resistance and pose greater threats to human health. (The Guardian)


Billions in finance raised for marine restoration

Following the Ocean One Summit hosted by the European Investment Bank last week, European public banks have pledged to double their proposed ocean financing in marine conservation and restoration projects to €4 billion by 2025. To date, the Clean Oceans Initiative has provided €1.6 billion which it uses to fund projects working to tackle plastics and wastewater mismanagement with an estimated 20 million beneficiaries. Funding is provided globally with a focus on regions grappling with issues such as a lack of waste management infrastructure. The increase in funding commitments is partly attributed to its growing membership as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development joins the initiative. The summit included attendance from a coalition of businesses, NGOs and government representatives such as AXA, Bank of America, Palladium and WWF. (edie)


Report finds racial health inequalities in NHS

A review conducted by the University of Manchester and commissioned by the NHS Race and Health Observatory has found “overwhelming” minority ethnic health inequalities in the NHS. The review found that racism, racial discrimination, barriers to accessing healthcare and insufficient ethnicity data collection have “negatively impacted” the health of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people in England for years. The review concludes that inequalities in access to, experiences of, and outcomes of healthcare in the NHS are “rooted in experiences of structural, institutional and interpersonal racism”. Over a year-long period, the review examined 13,000 papers and interviewed policy experts, NHS staff and patients and was led by the UK’s leading minority ethnic research centre the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity. (The Guardian)


Rolls-Royce and Porterbrook sign net-zero deal

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between automobile maker Rolls-Royce and passenger train operator Porterbrook. The memorandum will see the two firms identify and develop innovations designed to reduce rail network emissions and improve air quality. The innovations include investigating the potential for use of synthetic and net-zero fuels, including hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen combustion engines. The partnership will also explore the potential for 'advanced hybridisation' on existing lines. The memorandum will additionally consider how the rail ecosystem can be leveraged to deliver the broader decarbonisation of the UK's economy, including fuel supply chain and infrastructure and operational models that can aid innovation. The UK government has pledged to remove all diesel-only trains from the network by 2040. (Business Green)*


UK government introduces new ‘green’ freeports

The UK government plans to invest £52 million into two net-zero-aligned ‘Green Freeports’ in Scotland. Freeports are special tax jurisdictions which provide exemptions to economic regulations and tariffs, offering benefits to companies such as tax relief, business rate retention and regeneration programmes. According to the government, the two Green Freeports must have net-zero targets “at the heart” of the project, with prospective bidders required to commit to ensuring the new hubs reach net-zero emissions by 2045, in line with the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation target. Any sea, air or rail port can apply as part of a consortium with other businesses so long as their bids are aligned with net-zero and include guarantees that local communities will benefit. (Business Green)*

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