Reflections from lock down
As lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, it is important to consider the changes we wish to make as individuals and businesses. While COVID 19 has brought enormous hardship to humankind, it has also highlighted our determination and collective force. Just like the climate crisis, COVID 19 connects every single person living on this planet. During the pandemic, we have seen that together we can work towards a more sustainable future to tackle the crisis.
An opportunity for systemic change
Following COVID 19, countries across the globe will have to rebuild their financial markets and cultural systems, which have collapsed. This provides the chance to launch green practices and initiate changes required to tackle the climate crisis.
The EU have announced a green recovery package, which will focus on investing €150bn in the transport sector, cleaner industry and the retrofitting of homes. This package will provide at least 1 million green jobs and help place those working in polluting industries into more environmental sectors. The EU is also planning to tax highly polluting industrial imports. This will have a global positive effect on combating reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The EU recovery package has set an impressive example for the rest of the world. Investing in our environment now will help with long-term sustainability – ensuring a prosperous future for generations to come. This is paramount if we are to meet the UK target of net zero by 2050.
Behaviour change is possible
“The pandemic has shown people will change their behaviour if it’s for the health of their families,” written in an Guardian article.
During the pandemic we have seen drastic changes in our way of life, 3 billion people across the globe were urged to stay at home. Their basic human right to freedom was taken. Citizens, on the whole obliged to new rules and regulations for the safety of their loved ones.
Cities closed roads and shut down central areas to traffic. In New York, for instance, Time Square was shut to cars. At first this was viewed with scepticism but when implemented the area flourished, and there were far less transport related accidents. Plus, localised air pollution decreased.
Businesses and staff members have begun to realise that business travel is not always necessary and working from home can be both cost-effective and efficient.
We have seen people drastically change their lives during this pandemic. Therefore, we know behaviour change is possible. This can be used to shape our future and help tackle the crisis.
We have seen determination from corporations wanting to tackle climate change. 200 chief executives signed a letter to Boris Johnson urging him to “deliver a clean, just recovery”. Businesses that signed this letter include, Asda, HSBC, National Grid, Aviva, Lloyds Banking Group and Heathrow airport.
The letter stated: “The current crisis, in moving us all away from business as usual, has already created shifts in how we operate, and we believe we must use the recovery to accelerate the transition to net zero.”
When large businesses work together pressure can be put on the government and collectively positive changes can be employed. A holistic approach must be taken, where businesses, governments and individuals work in harmony.
The resilience of nature and decrease in air pollution
Benefits to nature have been observed, Venice canals have become clear in Italy and localised air pollution has drastically decreased. For example, in India citizens are able to see the Himalayan backdrop for the first time in their lives. Previously, the view would have been clouded by a hazy plume of pollution. In London, toxic fumes such as NOx and PM2.5 emitted from transport vehicles have also drastically reduced.
What do you think this recovery plan should focus on? Share your thoughts with us.
“Sooner or later we will find a vaccine for the coronavirus. But there is no vaccine for climate change. Therefore [we] need a recovery plan designed for the future.” Ursula von der Leyen (president of the European Commission).