How did a Pandemic change our view on Sustainability?
2020 was a year like no other. Questioning if things will return to the way they were before the pandemic and unable to predict what changes will be permanent, we’re looking for the positives. One thing that this year has been brought forward is talks about sustainability. From individuals looking at their personal responsibility to government bodies making plans for a greener world, 2020 showed us awareness of environmental damage isn’t enough and we must take action.
A Clean World
At the beginning of the year, during the first worldwide lockdown, the earth was able to breathe. We saw its relief. Wildlife was spotted walking through empty city streets and murky waterways turned clear because of the stillness. The signs of how our activity affects the natural world have never been clearer. Described as the ‘silver-lining’ of isolation, seeing natural intervention brought not only positivity but important conversations of environmental impact.
‘Boars in the middle of my hometown, dolphins in the port of Cagliari, ducks in the fountains in Rome, Venice canals have now clean water full of fishes. Air pollution dropped. Nature is reclaiming its spaces during quarantine in Italy.’
(Francesco Delrio, 15 March 2020)
With more spare time available and uncertainty of work, many became more conscious of their spending habits. Not only in terms of cost but considering the value of what they were purchasing. A rise in eco-friendly online searches, an increase in sustainable everyday purchases and a consideration to the disposal of
new products has driven the plastic-free and zero-waste movements forwards. Plastic Free July saw it’s largest volume of participants this year and dramatically reduced the amount of single-use plastic being used as participants adopted life-long habits.
‘326 million participants adopted 228 million ‘choose to refuse’ behaviour changes.’ (Plastic Free July)
London: The Global Centre of Green Finance
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced on the 17th of November the UK’s Green Plan. His ten-point plan includes a ban on diesel engines, increase in production of wind power, hydrogen heated towns, investment into nuclear power, investment into insulating public buildings, a further £200bn investment into carbon capture initiatives, support for aviation and marine greener energies, every year 30,000 hectares of trees planted, promotion for green travel and
the pledge to make London the Global Centre of Green Finance. Even though a huge strain has been put on the government to support and make drastic decisions for people, businesses and the economy this year, Johnson still put the ten-point plan in place. Helping to set a positive outlook on the future, his plan also includes 250,000 jobs.
‘The ten-point plan will mobilise £12 billion of government investment, and potentially 3 times as much from the private sector, to create and support up to 250,000 green jobs.’ (GOV.UK)
With a vision of what the world could look like if we prioritised our environment, statistics showing the impact we can make and a government dedicating investment to a greener future, sustainability has never been highlighted so profusely. Although concerns surround the new ten-point plan and we haven’t completely eradicated some of our most harmful consumables, it’s clear that a shift in our perspective has occurred. With more time to remember why we chose to live where we live, the rediscovery of close to home reminds us that a sustainable future is and should always be a priority.