2020 has been a difficult year for so many people all over the world. From balancing the effects of a pandemic to civil unrest; fighting for justice and managing one's own mental health. It can be hard to stop and appreciate all the golden moments that still took place. That's why we've made it a little bit easier for you to remember all the positivity as we take a look back at some of the best eco-friendly news moments of the past year.
Despite pandemic restrictions being a difficult thing to navigate for most individuals, one good thing that has come of it is that wildlife all over the world have suffered less because of decreased human activity outdoors.
In China, where the spread of coronavirus was linked to a wet market, the government has since been committed to criminalizing the use of wildlife for food. In the United States, the number of people commuting to work has decreased significantly which has also reduced the use of cars and speeding traffic. The number of animals that have suffered fatal injuries due to road traffic has decreased by almost 58%.
Thanks to stay-at-home orders, many people have found new ways to connect with nature in positive, nurturing, interactions such as planting gardens, starting conservations and taking care of the wild plants and animals living nearby their homes.
With a dramatic decrease in the need for cars and travel, stay-at-home orders for the past few months have shown an improvement in air quality worldwide, and even when most lockdown orders were lifted, several governments across the world have committed to making cleaner air a priority.
In the US, owners of coal plants have set closing dates, and South Korea has been planning to close up to 30 coal-fired power plants since September of 2020. In the UK, a 2024 deadline has been set in place to gradually eliminate pollution from fuel. With these plans in place, as long as leaders continue to see clean air quality as a priority, our skies are on their way to crisp blue come 2025.
Governments have failed time and time again to uphold responsibility when it comes to helping their countries reduce, tackle, and actively resolve our contributions to climate change. However, 2020 saw the birth of a new, more aggressive, and hopefully, influential climate law passed. It's known as The Climate Act and stems from Denmark, one of the only countries in the world to actively commit climate change resolutions to law.
Under The Climate Act, Denmark has committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 and aims to strictly monitor the plans to reach this goal by requiring reports on climate planning every year until the goal is achieved. In addition, the law also promises that Denmark will commit to climate engagement internationally, which aims to influence world leaders to convince their country's governments to hold the same standards.
The Paris Agreement has the potential to help save our planet if all contributors stay true to their promises. Enacted in November 2016, The Paris Agreement sets the global blueprint for ensuring that all countries in agreement promise to work to avoid hitting dangerous climate change limits such as global warming below 2°C.
United States President Donald Trump has spent years working to withdraw the US from this agreement. The withdrawal took effect this past November, and despite The Paris Agreement being upheld with or without the United States, the removal of a country like the US from this agreement can be destructive to worldwide efforts. However, under the promises of newly-elected United States President Joe Biden, the US is dedicated to rejoining The Paris Agreement as soon as possible. In hopes that our leaders stay true to their promises, keeping the world in agreement with regards to preventing further climate change will help improve the state of our planet.
Perhaps even more influential than global policies and world leaders are the actions we take as individuals that contribute to climate change. Because of the dedication of a younger generation working harder than their own country's leaders to call attention to climate change as it's happening, the rise of activism in the environmental movement has gained attention like never before.
2020 brought the best in activism and those fighting for change. Voices like Greta Thunberg's as well as other young climate activists from Europe to the US who are not afraid to hold their leaders accountable are paving the way to a safer, greener planet. It starts now and it begins with them. It is, after all, their future.
+ Words: Erica Danielle Garcia, Contributor at Luxiders Magazine
Erica Danielle Garcia is a writer and journalist from Los Angeles whose work explores topics in culture, politics, and representation in music through sociocultural, intersectional, and environmental lenses. Instagram: @ericadanlle