Today is World Environment Day, run by the United Nations. How will you react? Do you care enough to start making changes to how you go about your daily life? What changes will you promise to make? What challenges can you set yourself? Can you explore nature better, especially in lockdown?
Perhaps the first thing we can all do is vow not to repeat the creation of litter last weekend, when thousands of pieces of litter were left strewn about our parks. While we cannot yet enjoy the company of the groups and societies with whom we met pre-Covid-19, many people are enjoying open spaces, while the weather is fine.
Maybe you might decide, upon receiving a renewal notice for energy bills, to choose a company, or a tariff, that ensures that the energy powering your house is generated by renewable energy sources.
It could be that, after yesterday’s final day for the petition, you continue to press for answers to save the former Longmead School site. Campaigners prefer refurbishment and reuse to demolishing one of Redhill’s last remaining pieces of history, namely an Edwardian building.
Consider, even starting a campaign of your own, perhaps investigating the cost of solar panels for your school or other group building. Plan out how long it would take to recoup any costs, how this could be spread over years and work out an investment plan.
Or, if you are considering home renovations during lockdown, insulating your property to reduce energy leakage might be your choice. You might even consider replacing your gas cooker with an electric one. Or just commit to recharging your mobile phone during the day, for only as long as is required, rather than overnight when you are wasting energy after it is fully charged.
You might consider, while shopping for food, the packaging. Is it sustainable? Could you buy the item – in that shop or elsewhere – with less packaging, particularly without plastic? Would it cost you more? If it did, isn’t that unjust and how would you address it? With the store? By writing to the brand (in an email or on social media)? With the head of an industry or your MP?
On the back of World Environment Day, it is worth vowing this weekend to soak yourself in reading up on the buzz phrase “build back better”. This will mean you will have all the latest facts at your fingertips and the reasoning for your arguments when challenging those around you to think about our impact on the planet.
“Build back better” is the phrase being used by those who urge Governments to legislate and industry to change. Environmental activists believe the world pause (for many) created by Covid-19 presents a chance for our leaders to address the climate emergency by making changes for a greener future as we emerge from the crisis.
My weekend’s reading will be Greenpeace’s 62-page Manifesto for a green recovery, which sets out a plan for clean transport, green buildings, smart power, nature and a circular economy, and how it could all be funded.
Greenpeace’s document starts by quoting the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, back in April.
“Nations will begin to emerge from lockdown and look to fire up their economies once again. When that happens it will be the duty of every responsible government to… rebuild in a way that will stand the test of time. That means investing in industries and infrastructure that can turn the tide on climate change.“
But will communities see it the same way? As the BBC report on Greenpeace’s dossier reports: “few things unite local communities like a proposal to put in an array of wind turbines”, which is one of their solutions. However, giving permission for a drilling site in a new place, such as Horse Hill, can prove equally as controversial.
Will your reading be able to discern how the chief executive of Heathrow was able to put his name to a letter demanding a “clean” recovery, when areoplanes that come through his site are a huge creator of carbon emissions, through flights?
Bailouts and financial help, the campaigners – including Prince Charles – argue, should come with “green strings attached” to fuel real environmental change.
World Environment Day comes at the end of a week that includes news stories about a flight powered fully by electricity, with no carbon emissions. Revolutionary. Just absorbing one week’s environment news will probably take up most of my weekend, especially absorbing that 62-page Greenpeace document.