Hello lovely readers, I hope you’ve all been having a gorgeous festive time.
As 2014 draws to a close and the new bubba year is just a couple of days away, I’d like to take this opportunity to write about some of the big deals in sustainability from the last year, sustainability-related things I’ve been doing personally, and some of the things I’m eagerly and nervously awaiting from 2015. I think it’s going to be a big year.
This is a UK-centric post as that’s where I’m based. If you live in another country, please feel free to leave a comment telling me what the big sustainability news from your neck of the woods has been in 2014!
2014 – National & Global
– In the May European Elections, the UK for some ungodly reason dined to crown the far-right new kid in town UKIP as our winning party. The far-right did worryingly well across Europe as well, particularly in France, Italy and Greece. However, the make-up of the European Parliament is still pretty centralist, and the Green group still outnumbers the right-wing group UKIP hails from. The smaller but more positive story of the Election was the way the UK Green Party came fourth, pushing the coalition-partner Lib Dems into fifth place after they lost all but one of their MEPs. The Green Party kept their two and won a new MEP as well.
– The biggest climate march in history took place on 21st September 2014, with over 670,000 people marching for bold progressive climate action, organised into 2,600 events all over the globe in over 150 different countries.
– The following week (23rd September) the UN had a climate summit to galvanise political will for the upcoming climate negotiations culminating in the big Paris 2015 meeting next year where a global binding deal will finally be struck. No hard and fast decisions were made or expected, but lots of countries pledged actions such as funding sustainable climate adaptation and preserving forests.
– There was a climate conference in Lima, Peru from the 1st to the 14th of December. This was to start the tough negotiations that will be finalised in Paris next year. The conference over-ran by a couple of days, but finally agreed that all countries will need to submit plans for curbing their GHG emissions in the next couple of months, which will be published on the UN website and assessed by scientists in November to see what the overall climate impact will be, and what remains to be done. Although the wording is sadly much much too vague, the decision is original in that it requires all nations – rich and poor alike – to do something about climate change. $10 billion was pledged by the richer countries towards helping developing countries adapt via the Green Climate Fund, and there was also mention of them getting compensation for climate-related extreme weather such as tycoons. The leaders of China and the USA met beforehand and agreed they would both start to pull their weight this time, which was pretty historic and essential. It’s a start, but there’s many difficult and critical issues for next year, and the wording needs to be much tighter if we are going to have a scientifically valid plan.
2014 – Personal
– I created an online radio show about sustainability, called Future Focus. I wrote the content, presented the show, interviewed exciting people and for a few episodes edited it as well. Although there are a lot of imperfections, this was such an exciting and educational project for me, I learnt so much and it was a fantastic experience.
– I worked for Greenpeace at Glastonbury Festival with one of my best friends, decorating their field and painting a massive mural about the melting of the Arctic.
– I started to get really involved with my local Green Party, volunteering with them regularly by delivering newsletters and door-knocking to help my Green MP Caroline Lucas get re-elected. She is an inspiration, full of integrity, charismatic and articulate. She’s one of the very few British (living) politicians I really admire. It’s really important to me that she keeps her seat in Brighton.
– I became a co-director at the Post Growth Institute, an international group exploring and inspiring paths to a sustainable future beyond economic growthmania. I was so honoured to be asked to the join the team, as I have admired their work for ages and I am 100% committed to the idea of a post-growth economy. I have recently written two original blog posts for them (this one and this one) and reposted this edited version of an Earth Baby original. I can’t wait to do more!
2015 – National & Global
– The UK General Election will be on May 7th 2015. Apparently it’s going to be the most unpredictable election in recent history, as support for the traditional parties has splintered off. Both the right and left vote is splitting, thanks to the rise of UKIP, the Greens and Scotland’s SNP. No one seems to know what’s going to happen, but a coalition of some sort is on the cards. It could well be that even two parties won’t be enough to govern, with a three party team a bizarre possibility. I’m quite anxious about the election actually, as the austerity cuts the Tory coalition have brought in have been brutally destructive (while the national debt has got even bigger) and even Labour have for some reason said they will continue them if they win. It’s a mess.
– The big climate conference will take place in December 2015 in Paris, and it’s basically impossible for me to over-state how important this is. A legally binding global deal will finally be agreed, and will replace the Kyoto Protocol, governing the world’s climate response for the next 30 or so years. However, this 30 year slot is literally our very very last chance to stop the world falling into the catastrophic trap of self-enforcing runaway climate change. A certain amount is already happening and is going to get worse whatever we do, because of the carbon we’ve already released over the past decades. But at the moment we’re on course to go past the ‘tipping point’ after which it’ll be too late and our civilisation and most other species are doomed. I’m sorry to be so dramatic but it really is that serious. The Paris 2015 meeting is our chance to get off this lethal course and save ourselves. Don’t forget.
2015 – Personal
– I’m graduating from university in June 2015! I’m in my final year of my Environment and Media Studies BA. I think my dissertation hand-in day is the same as the UK general election, actually. Next steps include scary big deals like finding my first graduate job and kissing goodbye to summer holidays. My passion is to use the media to raise awareness about sustainability and social issues, so I aim to carve out a career that allows me to do that. But the media is an extremely competitive industry so even getting a foot on the ladder is challenge enough for a fresh-faced graduate. I’m just so excited to finish my studies and burst into the world of work. Here I come!
So what did you think was a big deal in 2014,
and what have you got your eyes on for 2015?