2020? Oh, it’s so last year. And thank goodness. We don’t need to detail the impact as the pandemic has affected us all in one way or another, with some devastating consequences. But looking ahead, we are now busy focusing on the brighter things due to shine through in 2021.
The Covid-19 vaccine rollout brings a huge glimmer of hope to the world but there are also other exciting things to look forward to, which will boost the environment and make 2021 a year of gradual recovery. There IS a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel.
1.US seeks to rejoin Paris accord
Climate deniers, begone! Joe Biden has pledged to put the US on a path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and will seek to rejoin the Paris Agreement on the first day of his presidency (he is inaugurated on January 20th). The goal of the Paris Agreement is to limit temperature rises to well below 2c above pre-industrial levels (with a 1.5c limit ideally).
The 46th president’s policies include a goal of 100 per cent clean electricity across the States by 2035 and boost climate action by holding a climate summit of the world’s major economies within the first 100 days of Biden being in office.
This is welcome news as the US is the world’s largest economy and the second-largest CO2 emitter after China.
2.Plastic Oceans UK
The charity has launched its Make Plastic History campaign, to highlight the plastic pollution crisis and to raise further awareness while the public has been distracted by the pandemic.
It is estimated that between four and 12 million tonnes of plastic waste makes its way into oceans every year, mainly through rivers. Plastic will never disappear, as it eventually breaks down into microplastics, so more action has to be taken.
The campaign is the brainchild of Mark Hunter, part-time environmental activist and full-time executive creative director at The Community, a London advertising agency.
His idea was to feature famous people from the past to illustrate just how long disposable plastics can stay in the environment after being discarded. William Shakespeare using a plastic carrier bag for example? Why yes!
The campaign will reach a national audience via billboards and posters currently running in major cities in the UK including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
3.Working from home continues
Yes, it gives you the opportunity to sneakily plough your way through the rest of the Christmas leftovers, but working from home (WFH) has bigger benefits of course.
Not only have managers instilled faith and trust in their teams to work remotely (in the year's BC - Before Covid - many jobs were deemed impossible to perform at home), WFH has also brought environmental benefits during the pandemic.
Transport makes up 23 per cent of global carbon emissions but remote working has meant this figure has plummeted. Covid-19 has forced most people to work from home, which has resulted in them avoiding public transport or driving to their workplace.
While these lower emissions may only be a temporary measure in restoring the planet, behavioural change may mean more people will continue to avoid commuting and remain working from home. Traffic jams and long, stressful commutes…we hope that’s definitely a thing of the past.
4.Brood X Cicadas due to emerge after 17 years
Brace yourselves - these enormous cicadas (known as Brood X or the Great Eastern Brood) are due to come out of hibernation this May and only make an appearance every 17 years (other than a relatively small number that emerges from the ground in the eastern United States).
The phenomenon will swarm in their billions this year, while replenishing soil with nitrogen and pruning mature trees, which is a win for the environment. Having said that, they can threaten young trees which should be protected with netting.
The periodical brood, which occur nowhere else in the world, will arrive in the mid-Atlantic and Midwest en masse and will be above ground for around five to six weeks. Their sound is unmissable as it can reach 100 decibels (similar to a lawnmower).
Once they’ve mated and laid eggs, the brood will die off (all adults will be gone by the end of June). The eggs will hatch and the babies will burrow into the ground where they will stay put until May 2038.
And for the adventurous among you, they’re packed with protein, but you may not want to brood on that…
5.New rules for importing and exporting plastic waste
As of the beginning of 2021, the European Commission is following new rules regarding the export, import and intra-EU shipment of plastic waste.
Under the latest guidelines, the export of plastic waste is banned from the EU to non-OECD (The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, except for clean plastic waste sent for recycling.
Exporting plastic waste from the EU to OECD countries and imports in the EU will also be more stringently controlled.
Public health and the environment has been harmed by the increase in uncontrolled trade in plastic waste. The waste has been destined for landfills, dumped in the ocean or burnt in open air.
With third world countries lacking the capacity and standards to manage the plastic waste sustainably, the new rules should prevent such exports.
6.New Eco Lifestyle Awards up for grabs
Entries are now all in for the new global Eco Lifestyle Awards, launched by The Beauty Shortlist.
The Beauty Shortlist will showcase the most sustainable, innovative and earth-friendly brands who boast an abundance of green philosophy.
The categories for the awards include Green Home, Plastic Free, Zero Waste, Ocean & Forest Protection, Ethical Sourcing and Sustainability.
The awards will take place alongside the 2021 Beauty Shortlist Awards on March 2nd. Entries will be judged by a panel of green living experts including Katie Hill, founder of sustainable, ethical living magazine My Green Pod and eco-lifestyle/zero waste advocate Bryanna Martonis, founder of The Eco Logical.
US judges include freelance green beauty editor Jessica Ourisman (Mind Body Green, The Zoe Report).
7.The Climate Change Conference takes place
From November 1st-12th, leaders from around the world will gather in Glasgow as the UK hosts the 26thUN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).
The conference was postponed in 2020 due to Covid-19 and this year the climate talks will unite heads of state, climate experts and campaigners, with the aim of coming together for our planet to agree on climate change action.
The aim is to unite parties and accelerate action towards meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
8.UK’s first rewilding centre
The world’s first rewilding centre is to be created in the Scottish Highlands by the charity Trees for Life.
The centre, which will be situated on a 10,000-acre estate near Loch Ness, is the result of more than £2million of support from The Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund led by Scottish Natural Heritage.
It will enable nature lovers to discover Gaelic culture and explore the wild landscapes while learning about golden eagles, wood ants, red squirrels and pine martens, who inhabit the region.
The rewilding centre will boost the local economy by providing such an attraction and is expected to create at least 15 new jobs in the area.
Construction will begin early this year and the centre is due to open in 2022.
Those little white boxes are coming to your home soon! Smart meters are due to reach more than half of homes and businesses in Britain in 2021.
The national rollout slowed down in 2020 due to the pandemic but installations are now cranking up a notch and a new goal has been set for 85 per cent of homes and businesses to have a device installed by 2024.
Around 40 per cent of UK homes and businesses now have a smart meter which forms a key role in the government’s net-zero emissions drive and encourages more energy efficient behaviour.
The meters can also relieve pressure on the grid at busy times.
Are you looking forward to something different in 2021? Perhaps you are searching for an inspiring and more rewarding job.
Contact us at Acre, to discuss the unique opportunities we can offer to give your career a New Year overhaul.