The pandemic, assaults on democracy, division and discord: there are plenty of things that can make it difficult to focus on sustainability. But the changes we must have are sweeping and urgent, and it is important that we remain dedicated to positive change.
One might imagine that environmental concerns would fade in face of other crises. But the Coronavirus pandemic has made consumers even more concerned about the environment. In a recent report, nearly 50% of consumers said the pandemic has made them more concerned about this issue, and 11% revealed that they have shifted their purchases based on environmental claims within the past year.
This is heartening news. It shows that a crisis on one front can help us to see broader societal and environmental problems more clearly. I myself have seen first hand an increase in people seeking to take up organic gardening or other sustainable pursuits for the first time.
And the focus on sustainability is not just found amongst individuals. A recent report found that 2/3 of the more than 600 largest companies in the US have committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and more than half have formal policies to manage water resources.
The proliferation of net zero commitments amongst companies, authorities and nations shows that, while there is undoubtedly still a long way to go – sustainable consumers and voters are, at least to an extent, keeping their feet to the fire.
Lockdowns due to the coronavirus have led to a sharp drop in global emissions. But a study has found that this massive drop will have only ‘negligible’ impact on the climate crisis. The study revealed that global heating will be cut by just 0.01 degrees C by 2030 due to this ‘blip’.
So it is more important than ever that we do not lose sight of our goals. We must all recognise the urgency of the situation, and in spite of other major concerns, must keep the focus on sustainability in all sectors.