Will 2019 Be a Turning Point for the Environment?
Jan 22 2019 Read 916 Times
2018 was not the best 12 months in the environmental history of our planet. Meteorologists logged it as the fourth hottest year on record, extreme weather phenomena such as floods, typhoons, wildfires, droughts, heatwaves and storms all increased in both frequency and intensity and the United States, one of the most powerful countries in the world, withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement under the guardianship of Donald Trump.
Looked at from that angle, it might be easy to fear the worst with regards to the future of our planet, especially since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has indicated that we only have 12 years to almost halve the current levels of emissions in order to avoid a global temperature hike in excess of 1.5°C. Despite all that doom and gloom, there are still plenty of reasons to be cheerful. Here are just two of the principal indicators of why 2019 might prove to be a turning point for the environment.
Perhaps the most encouraging development over recent times is the groundswell of public support for environmental reform. This can be observed both in the cumulative efforts of individuals to modify their own habits, such as the increasing popularity of dietary lifestyles like veganism, vegetarianism and flexitarianism, as well as the plethora of organised campaigns aimed at jolting governments and corporations into action.
Unsurprisingly, this type of civic action has been most noticeable in the western world, but even in developing regions the awareness of our need to curb our damaging behaviour has been steadily increasing. The major success of an emissions monitoring conference in India last year - in traditionally one of the least environmentally aware countries in the world - is testament to that changing consciousness, while others in Asia and Africa are slowly becoming cognisant of the damage that global warming could wreak on their more vulnerable constituents.
While Trump may be withdrawing the US from the global debate on climate change, the rest of the world is showing their enthusiasm to tackle the problem head on. French president Emmanuel Macron, who has become something of a spearhead for the movement, has announced he will be holding a One World Summit this summer, while UN secretary general António Guterres has also promised to hold a similar conference at some point in 2019.
Again, even countries who have typically been among the biggest polluters and least environmentally-conscious are making strides. Australia may still be continuing its love affair with coal, but its politicians are pouring significant funds into investigating environmentally-friendly road transportation. Over in China, long the chief culprit when it comes to national carbon footprints due to its sheer scale, the government has spent more money than the rest of the world combined on investigating renewable forms of energy. Maybe, just maybe, the future will be bright for planet Earth.
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