Time for nature and time for change

This year’s theme for World Environment Day, Time for Nature, strikes a chord with our engagement with the natural environment during lockdown. While confined to our homes, we have valued our access to green spaces and reconnected with the importance of nature for our physical and mental wellbeing. We have noticed wildlife more, as human activity has been quietened, and we have enjoyed the views revealed by clearer air.

Having pressed the pause button on many polluting activities, lockdown has given us a glimpse into a cleaner, lower emissions world. Cycling has become a more popular mode of transport, rush hour has been almost non-existent as we’ve adapted to working at home, demand for oil has fallen, and many flights have been cancelled with domestic tourism posing a more viable option for holiday makers this summer.

Clearly this is not progress, with these changes having been brought about by the devastating circumstances of the pandemic. However, the pandemic is a testament to society’s capacity to make major changes in cooperation with scientific advice, which is something that has been lacking in the context of climate science.

Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated on 5th June as an opportunity to encourage the government, the public, businesses, and public figures alike to engage with environmental issues. With progress and adaptation being on the agendas of governments around the world as we look to rebuild our economies and restore quality of life, now more than ever it’s vital that we encourage policy makers and influential figures to engage with environmental issues.

The deviation from ‘normal’ that the pandemic has caused is an opportunity to bring about change. Recovery could be a vehicle for the sustainable development of our previously carbon-intensive economies, if governments align recovery plans with climate science and invest in green stimulus packages. Furthermore, our glimpse of a less polluted, lower emissions world could help to build to momentum needed to achieve this change. In fact, 155 companies with a combined market value of over 2.4 trillion US dollars have already signed a statement to governments around the world urging for a green recovery.

The right stimulus packages could bring us closer to achieving the sustainable development goals, while investing significantly in fossil-fuel intensive industries and activities could take us further away. This would further embed inequality, with the repercussions of climate change and environmental degradation, including the emergence of new diseases, disproportionately affecting the poorest and most vulnerable.

However, it is not solely within the hands of governments to implement change; businesses, organisations, communities, and individuals all have a part to play. In line with World Environment Day, Chamber Low Carbon is hosting our online Lunch and Learn Event, ‘How solar has changed and how it can help’. Join the online event at 12 pm, Friday 5th June to learn from our guest speaker how solar power could enable your business to make positive changes for the environment and for your energy bills.

Additionally, if you’re a Lancashire-based SME, Chamber Low Carbon could also help you access funding for to 50% of the costs up to £15,000 or 30% of costs up to £25,000, for installing renewable technologies such as solar through our grant scheme. Sign up to the event using the link below: