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Each week we share the top sustainability news stories from around the world. Here’s this week’s round up:

This week we explore how climate lawyers are challenging fossil fuels companies for greenwashing, a massive tech giant’s multimillion dollar carbon removal fund and an innovative food group that can create sustainable farming.

Oil Giants Taken to Task Over “Greenwash” Ads:
Massive fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil, Aramco, Chevron & Shell have used advertising to “greenwash” their ongoing contribution to the climate crisis according to files published by the environmental lawyers ClientEarth. This strategy consists of putting forward ecological arguments in order to forge an ecologically responsible image or sometimes a completely false image among the public. However, the public in recent years has caught on to these companies, particularly fossil fuel companies who are the largest carbon emitters.

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ClientEarth is calling on policymakers in countries where these businesses operate to ban all fossil fuel company ads unless they come with tobacco-style health warnings about the risks of global heating to people and the planet. The lawyers lodged a complaint in 2019 arguing that fossil fuel giant BP’s advertising campaigns had misled the public by focusing on the company’s low carbon energy products while still spending a large majority of its money on oil and gas. The complaint was seen as a success to ClientEarth as BP withdrew the ads before the case was formally assessed, now they are trying to put pressure on other fossil fuel companies to stop attempting to greenwash their public perception.

Johnny White, one of ClientEarth’s lawyers stated, “We’re currently witnessing a great deception, where the companies most responsible for catastrophically heating the planet are spending millions on advertising campaigns about how their business plans are focused on sustainability. Our research shows these adverts are misrepresenting the true nature of companies’ businesses, of their contribution to climate change, and of their transition plans”.

Apple Targets Carbon Removal with $200m Fund

The tech giant Apple is launching a new initiative that will make investments in forestry projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere. It aims to remove 1 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide every year from the atmosphere which is equivalent to the amount of fuel used in over 200,000 passenger vehicles every year. The fund is partnered with US non-profit Conservation International as well as Goldman Sachs. The fund is a part of Apple’s goal to become carbon neutral across its value chain by the end of the decade. Apple also hopes the fund will demonstrate a viable financial model that can help other corporations scale up investments in forest restoration as trees act as a carbon sink for trapping emissions.

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Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social initiatives said that “through creating a fund that generates both a financial return as well as real and measurable carbon impacts, we aim to drive broader change in the future – encouraging investment in carbon removal around the globe”. Conservation International will ensure projects meet environmental standards laid out by the likes of the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Legumes Could be the Secret Ingredient for Sustainable Farming

University of Limerick research says adding legumes such as peas, beans, lentils and chickpeas to European crop rotations could be the answer to more sustainable farming practices in Europe. The study looked at a time frame of three to five years for the proposed crop rotation in three different European climates across Italy, Romania and Scotland. The research published in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, claims that adding legumes into the traditional crop rotations of barley, wheat and rapeseed could have significant environmental benefits as well as greater nutritional value for humans and livestock alike.

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The use of conventional fertilisers has been controversial for some time as they can be harmful to the environment and not good for long term use of land. However, for a long time, they have been the only way farmers could provide crops with adequate nitrogen to increase growth efficiency in an ever demanding global society. Producing these fertilisers requires a large amount of energy while also potentially polluting the surrounding environment. When excess nutrients from fertiliser run off into waterways, they can cause algae blooms which can block waterways and decompose and remove oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic species can’t survive in these conditions. Excess use in soil can result in acidification which will affect future use.

Due to a symbiotic relationship with bacteria, legumes can get all the nitrogen they need from the air around them, meaning that legumes would make fertilisers useless as they can be used to enrich the soil around them. Legumes are also one of the most nutrient-rich crops, according to the research, providing protein, folate, fibre, potassium, magnesium, iron and vitamins. 

Tune in next week for another round of sustainability news from around the world.