6 Environmental Achievements of the Past Decade
By Jan-Niclas Schindzielorz
In today’s media, you can easily feel overwhelmed and helpless with regard to the current state of our environment. Bad news seems to rule the day – and positive environmental news is hard to find.
And although it is important to reflect on the challenges we currently face – it is also important to highlight the good.
To inspire everyone who wants to make the world greener, we want to take you on a trip down memory lane. Let’s celebrate what our community has achieved within the last decade and look at important events, trends, and movements that can inspire us for years to come.
197 Countries To Battle Climate Change
The biggest political event for the environment in this past decade was the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) in Paris, France. Over two weeks the participating parties negotiated the Paris Agreement.
This agreement is the first of its kind. Never before has the world come to a consensus about how to combat climate change.
Only time will tell if this agreement is enough to minimize the effects of climate change. The success relies on each country to fully commit to their promises. It’s undeniable, that since the agreement went into force in 2016, we didn’t get a lot of good news around the accord. But we have to acknowledge the fact, that the whole world came together and decided to take on the challenges awaiting our planet.
350 Million Trees planted in one day
The last decade saw trees and tree planting becoming one of the most popular tools and trends in the fight against climate change.
It gained so much popularity that we got to see two world record-breaking events taking place within three years.
In 2016, 800,000 volunteers in India put 49,3 million tree saplings into the earth. But this amazing number didn’t last long in the top spot. Ethiopia wants to become a “green society” and planted its own trees in 2019. Officials reported the planting of 350 million trees in one day.
It seems like almost everyone has fallen in love with the green giants. Today there are various creative projects, making trees the new mainstream status symbol.
As we look towards the future of tree planting as a means to fight climate change – we hope to see that research, and consideration is taken when deciding where to plant trees.
Thousands commit to cleaning up our oceans
But it hasn’t been all about trees throughout the last ten years. Another big issue finding its way to the main stage was the plastic pollution of the oceans. Shocking numbers and predictions demanded quick solutions and caused environmental activists to stand up.
Alongside tree-planting beach clean-ups became a favorite outing-idea for companies and peer-groups. Most probably because it’s such an easy way to do something good for the planet.
Mumbai’s Versova Beach became one of the main symbols for a successful beach clean-up. Afroz Shah and many volunteers collected 4000 tons of trash within one year. The UN honored the initiator and his commitment by naming him Champion of the Earth.
Today, big startups like the Dutch “The Ocean Cleanup” are getting ready to take on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Many other initiatives like the 4ocean movement raise public awareness for the issue of plastic pollution. All together they have one goal: Save the Oceans.
$19,000 – for a plastic bag
The 2010s opened the international race against global plastic pollution. Once the public discovered the severe impact that plastic can have on our environment it was clear that something needed to change. Having to pay for every plastic bag at the counter or the option to get a reusable bag wasn’t enough anymore.
Since the beginning of the decade, the public policies addressing plastic bags tripled. For example, by 2021 a ban of the most polluting single-use plastic products will apply in the EU. Kenya took a step further. If you decide to manufacture or import plastic bags you might be charged $19,000 or even go to jail.
We have made the first steps towards cleaning up our planet – and our mess. These great developments are the start of taking action towards a greener and cleaner planet.
Millions take the topic to the streets
Scientists have warned us about climate change for several decades now. Regardless, the severity of climate change has only recently been taken seriously. Especially in the past few years, we could witness a significant rise in public awareness of the issue.
Millions of young people went to the streets. The youth made sure, that their voices were heard and soon, scientists, teachers, and parents joined their protests. Record-breaking demonstrations headlined every news show.
They showed us something very important: That the next generation cares about the future of this planet. Now, no politicians can get away without addressing climate change anymore. This topic has an unchallenged spot on every political agenda.
And the effects reached further. Whether it was conscious fashion collections, plastic-free grocery stores or plant-based restaurants. Everywhere a green lifestyle started taking root. All the demonstrations, events, and awareness-campaigns were a huge win for the environment.
The David Attenborough Effect – Inspiration Through Media
Entertainment and especially streaming services have grown immensely throughout the past years. Companies like Facebook and Apple started producing their own movies and series. Every major TV network announced its own streaming platforms. In an era of constant overstimulation by social media, it is difficult to get an audience’s attention.
David Attenborough managed to do that. For many years he’s been working together with BBC to show the world the beauty of our planet. Projects like ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Our Planet’ influenced a whole new generation of environmentalists. They showcased the richness of our environment and fascinated millions over all continents. Those breathtaking recordings made clear how important it truly is to save the nature surrounding us.
Attenborough’s achievements were crucial to the public view of the environment. His work brought the natural beauty into the cities’ living rooms. It shaped our understanding of and love for what’s out there. His message of the importance of preservation deserves the most attention and his call for action the highest level of urgency. For the sake of Our Planet.
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