Covid lock-down restrictions are beginning to lift, and we are welcoming more daylight into our days perhaps finally signalling the end of the pandemic. Schools have returned and we all seem to be bracing ourselves for the next stage of the Government’s roadmap. Whilst the last year has undoubtedly been difficult for people and businesses across the UK, there are some key lessons that we should be mindful of if we are to build a greener, more sustainable future.
During the first lock-down of March 2020 we witnessed a dramatic reduction in emissions, pollution and a significantly positive effect on the environment. The aftermath of the first major lockdown proved that we as humans can make a difference. Maps using data collected from NASA and European Space Agency satellites show how nitrogen dioxide, a dangerous gas released by burning fuel, has dissipated since the outbreak. “This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, said in a statement. Similarly, in Venice again thanks to initial lockdown measures the canals became the cleanest they have been in 60 years, and dolphins were spotted swimming in clearer water.
It’s unrealistic to expect that such low levels of emissions will remain as the world opens up again. Demands on certain industries are unlikely to fall and if anything, be on a larger scale in the effort to jumpstart economies globally. But if we can take one positive impact from recent events, it is that small changes to the way we live and behave can make a marked impact to the global fight on climate change.
Joe Biden has already shown the world that he is serious about environmental issues, one of his very first acts as president was to reinstate the US in the Paris Climate Agreement. Additionally, he has laid out in detail plans to make America an influential force in fighting climate change. There has, however, been speculation as to how he will be able to create jobs in the renewable sector when currently most of the worlds solar panels and wind turbines are manufactured in China. Therefore, we can only assume at this stage that plans are underway to bring manufacturing to America.
Closer to home, the recent budget announcement from Rishi Sunak has given some hope that the previously announced ‘build back green’ plan from Boris Johnson is coming to fruition. The budget has a huge focus on the renewable sector, with budget being allocated to energy projects in Scotland and Wales such as the Holyhead Hydrogen Hub and the Aberdeen Energy Transition Zone. Sunak also recapped on a previous pledge regarding offshore wind, saying “Offshore wind is an innovative industry, where the UK already has a global competitive advantage. So, we’re funding new port infrastructure to build the next generation of wind projects in Teesside and Humberside.” The scheme would see the government invest £160m in developing ports and infrastructure for offshore wind manufacturing and deployment.
With all of these factors considered we think there are a number of key learnings that we’d like to see remembered as we return to normality:
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Drive less, walk more
Being forced to stay put saw many of us get back to nature and explore the many parks, forests and nature reserves the UK has to offer, even exploring the nearest ‘bit of green’ in walking distance has major health benefits. Walking regularly burns calories, strengthens the heart, lowers blood sugar, improves mood and can improve creative thinking.
It’s fair to say not everyone will want to swap all of their holidays abroad for staycations but having had to for the past year (when allowed) many have seen that the UK does have a great deal to offer for breaks and holidays. Just swapping one flight for one staycation will have a dramatic effect on your own personal carbon footprint!
As many of us have worked from home for the best part of an entire year access to something like printing has probably proved a little difficult for most. Consequently, many of us have had to think twice or even completely stop what we print, saving paper and the planet.
With covid restricting some imports and exports, many of us have been switching to local suppliers for our everyday essentials. Not only does this result in a greatly reduced carbon footprint, it also means you’re supporting local businesses and the economy as a whole.
With the combination of government’s proposals, green project budget allocations and everyone working together, we may just see a greener future after all. If you would like more information on how you and your business can build back greener then contact one of our advisors today on 0844 318 0044 or fill in this quick form.