2020 Victories And 2021 Resolutions
2020 is not the year that we thought it would be. As we enter into 2021, many people are glad to be leaving 2020 in the past and think that the new year will bring them a fresh start. But, not only can we not forget the past year because we need to learn from our mistakes in order to improve, there were also many victories in 2020 that have not gotten as much news coverage. Years cannot be fully good or bad, they are too long for that and there are too many different people, communities and ecosystems for us all to experience similar things. So, let’s talk about some of the accomplishments of 2020 and how to move into the new year with sustainable goals and attitudes.
Three big accomplishments in 2020🎉:
- Renewable energy use rose by 14% and now accounts for 10% of all electricity.
While acknowledging that renewable energy is not a perfect solution – the production of solar panels, wind turbines, etc. uses a lot of energy and resources and many renewable energy sources destroy the habitats where they are placed – this is still a big step for energy use. This means there was a 30% decline in coal use, and, even though renewable energy is not perfect, it is far superior to its alternative. In addition, both Virginia and Rhode Island committed to 100% renewable energy by 2050!!
- Reduction of single-use plastics in colleges/universities
In August, the US college system announced that it is phasing out single-use plastics on all college campuses throughout the country. This not only will reduce the amount of plastic used and thrown out, but, if students are accustomed to using more sustainable options in college, they will be more likely to seek out more sustainable options later in life and encourage their families/those around them to follow suit.
- At least 10 states have implemented climate resilience-building policies
South Carolina passed the Disaster Relief and Resiliency Act which includes a resilience office, statewide resiliency planning, and financing for restoring previously flooded areas to their natural states. Vermont passed a Global Warming Solutions Act, Connecticut both passed an environmental justice bill and an executive order mitigating climate change impacts on humans, ecosystems, infrastructure, and the economy (all aspects of sustainability!), and New York sets up protection for at-risk species.
In addition to these things, scientists have had time to study environments without human intervention because of COVID-19, the UN Aviation Agency has committed to reducing climate pollution from airlines, and investing in sustainably-thinking companies has become increasingly popular in the business community.
As we create New Years Resolutions for ourselves, our schools, organizations, companies, etc., we need to remember one of the biggest things that we learned in 2020: that life is unpredictable. So, set attainable goals based around principles you feel strongly about and make things as easy for yourself as possible. If you want to use less plastic, place reusable bags right next to your front door for grocery shopping, and keep an extra set of reusable utensils in your bag, in case you need them.
Good luck to you in 2021, I’m excited to see all that we can accomplish!