2019 Wrapped

With the end of the year, and this record signing off until 2020, we have decided to look back at some of the news that we think could be evidence for optimism. Like opening a Christmas present, you can’t be sure what will be inside, but you can see the basic shape.

If we are honest it has been more a year of evolution rather than revolution, despite with the wrappers on the presents have claimed. Still, we have chosen five issues that at the very least point the way forward – that is to say 2019 might be seen as a pivotal year for these issues.

COP25. Despite being pretty universally acknowledged as a fudge, COP25 was revealing in that Patricia Espinosa, the executive secretary of UN Climate Change, noted that, “many decisions that emerged from the conference in Madrid at least acknowledge the role of climate finance, essential for concrete action.” Or, in short, she hinted that it was investor pressure and corporates themselves that were now taking a leadership position on averting more climate change, rather than the politicians. How this plays out is, of course, hard to predict, but in a year that saw significant companies linking executive pay to carbon cuts, the LSE throwing out fossil companies from the 4Good index and unilateral moves to join groups such as RE100. A combination of reputation, operational and legal concerns have helped drive – along with conscience – a more considered corporate approach to business.

UK renewables record. For the UK the renewable records just keep tumbling. A renewable energy record was set on Sunday 8 December, with wind generating 44 per cent of the total energy mix. In the third quarter, renewables overtook gas as an energy source. Overall, as the technology gets cheaper, and number of sites increases, we can look forward to these records being beaten – and perhaps most importantly the total phasing out of coal as the UK attempts to get to net-zero.

EU Green Deal. Again, not fully done – but a major statement of intent, that surely will help define the next decade, bringing an EU ambition into line with some countries having already stated such an aim (UK, Norway for example).

Extinction Rebellion. 2019 was the year that saw people take to the streets in order to protest about the environment. Whether you agree or not with all the methods, or targets, it is a decisive moment, and a highly visible one, especially in the UK where street protest is an occasional pastime rather than a normal occurrence. If this is a measure of public opinion, then all the concerned parties ought to be listening hard.

Mental health. ITV & CALM won the Major Project of the Year Award, at this year’s Better Society Awards, and pointed to one of the growing issues that society faces. Mental health has been slowing gaining a higher profile, and perhaps we are at a turning point, but more will need to be done. Employers in particular will see this as one of the major issues they will address, and its related – but not synonymous – issue of wellbeing.

2019, was, perhaps, a year of more achievement that it might have seemed. It bodes well for 2020, and on that optimistic nope, we bid you a Merry Christmas and we look forward to seeing you in the New Year.

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