Can behaviour changes we have made in the pandemic lead to long-term environmental progress?
The importance of protecting our environment is brought into focus this month, with a number of awareness days including World Environment Day, and World Oceans Day encouraging a call to action, to make a difference.
Our changed behaviour during lockdown has led to a number of positive impacts on the environment. Less traffic on the roads and planes in the air has resulted in a fall in C02 emissions and air pollution. There has also been an increase in bicycle sales, and cities around the world have been freeing space for bicycles and pedestrians. Waterways such as the famous Venice canals have become clear and there has been less litter on our streets. Animals, including mountain goats, deer and racoons have ventured onto quieter streets. At the same time, however, there are less teams and law enforcement to protect against poaching of endangered species and to prevent deforestation of vital ecosystems.
The question is, can we continue to do more to protect the environment moving forwards or, as lockdown restrictions are eased, will these green gains be reversed? More than 200 top UK firms and investors have called on the government to deliver a Covid-19 recovery plan that prioritises the environment. Businesses across a wide range of sectors are already leading by example and delivering ground-breaking projects and services for a more resourceful future, and need wider government support and investment to propel a green economy.
Recently, the United Nations warned that the world must not forget the ‘deeper emergency’ of climate change. Advisers to the UK government, the Committee on Climate also urged that the government must take measures to reduce climate risks.
It’s clear that to halt both the current contagion and climate change, we need to rethink our lives by changing our established behaviours. To do so requires decisive action, backed by communications that resonate with individuals in a clear and concise way.