Updated: Apr 17
Source: CNBC ᶦ
Climate change is indisputably a hot topic these days. Reports frequently expose countries failing to adequately address the growing crisis, the redundant empty promises made over and again by world leaders vowing to save the planet, and yet the achievements of tackling climate change rarely ever make the front page. We should be recognising small progressions and celebrating the steps being taken in the right direction, rather than only focusing on the impending disasters.
The following is a list of 4 positive changes that have been made in the last decade to combat the growing climate emergency:
1. The Transition to Electric Cars
Electric cars have been a significant talking point in the last decade, with Tesla being the largest manufacturing company.ᶦᶦ Compared to its neighbouring European countries, the UK is further behind in adapting to the electric transition. Countries such as France require all UK-registered vehicles traveling to specific areas in France (Paris, Lyon and Grenoble) to have an Air Quality Emissions certificate to lower the emissions in these areas.ᶦᶦᶦ Despite being behind on adopting such changes, the UK government has announced that the production of new diesel and petrol cars will be banned from 2030 onwards, in a bid to increase the use of electric vehicles and lower emissions. This is significant as this new UK law originally had a deadline of 2040, but with the growing urgency of the climate crisis, the government brought the ban forward in March 2021.ᶦᵛ
2. Energy-Efficient Boilers
‘Out of 29 million homes in the UK, currently only 1 million are heated using low-carbon methods.’ᵛ With there being significantly less homes using energy-efficient boilers, the UK government in 2019 announced a ban on gas boilers by 2025. Despite newer boilers being more efficient than older ones, they still require the burning of fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are significant contributors to climate change, therefore, when the UK government announced that the ban on gas boilers will be brought forward to 2023, it likely would have been more than welcomed by climate activists.
3. Clean Air Zones
Clear Air Zones are protected areas in which measures are taken to improve air quality.ᵛᶦ These zones are predominantly in London, however, several cities across England are looking to introduce these measures to improve the air quality. For example, Portsmouth, Newcastle, Leicester and Bradford are all set to introduce new measures delineating low-emission zones by the end of 2021, whilst Manchester aims to introduce a clear air zone by Spring 2022.
Plans to expand the ultra-low emissions zone (ULEZ) in London were proposed by the London Mayor in 2017 and since then, there have been significant improvements to the air quality. Fewer than 44,100 polluting vehicles are in the ULEZ each day, and there has been a 47% reduction in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels. Alongside this, the ‘number of state primary and secondary schools in areas exceeding legal limits of NO2, fell from 455 in 2016 to 14 in 2019 (97 % reduction)’.ᵛᶦᶦ This goes to show that although climate change is a leading issue in the world, the solutions being provided are having a positive impact on both the planet and on people as cleaner air reduces risks of the development of pollution-related illnesses.
4. Greater Awareness
Remember 2019? The year before the pandemic hit? Well, that was also the year one of the largest climate change rallies took place. September 20-27, 2019 was a week filled with worldwide protests demanding action to ‘cut emissions and stabilise the climate.’ᵛᶦᶦᶦ The protests were dominated by young people, but it still brought together people of all ages to have a voice in demanding action.
Although climate change is a continuing threat, it is important to savour our small victories and recognise the poignant steps towards resolution that humanity has taken. The impending disasters may instil a sense of hopelessness or helplessness, but the positive initiatives have indicated there is hope for as long as we are unified by our common cause of preserving the environment.
ᶦ Malika Mitra, ‘In Pictures: Millions of protesters worldwide come together to demand action on climate change’ (CNBC, 20 September 2019) < https://www.cnbc.com/2019/09/20/in-pictures-millions-of-protesters-worldwide-come-together-to-demand-action-on-climate-change.html> accessed 4 July 2021
ᶦᶦ Power Right, Today’s Biggest Electric Vehicle Manufacturers in the World (9 March 2021) <https://www.powerright.ie/article/biggest-ev-manufacturers-in-the-world-2020 > accessed 30 June 2021
ᶦᶦᶦ Euro Tunnel, Emission Laws for all UK registered vehicles travelling to France <https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/driving-in-france/emissions/ > accessed 3 July 2021
ᶦᵛ Edie Newsroom, Government Confirms 2030 Ban on Petrol and Diesel Cars, Unveils £20m Electric Vehicle Package (10 March 2021) < https://www.edie.net/news/11/Government-confirms-2030-ban-on-petrol-and-diesel-cars--unveils--20m-electric-vehicle-package/ > accessed 3 July 2021
ᵛ Beth Howell, ‘The UK Gas Boiler Ban: Everything You Need to Know’ (theecoexperts, 21 May 2021) < https://www.theecoexperts.co.uk/boilers/uk-gas-boiler-ban > accessed 30 June 2021
ᵛᶦ RAC, Clean Air Zones – what are they and where are they? (26 October 2020) <https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/emissions/clean-air-zones/ > accessed 3 July 2021
ᵛᶦᶦ Mayor of London, The Mayor’s Ultra Low Emission Zone for London <https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/environment/pollution-and-air-quality/mayors-ultra-low-emission-zone-london > accessed 30 June 2021
ᵛᶦᶦᶦ Sandra Laville and Jonathan Watts, ‘Across the Globe, Millions Join Biggest Climate Protest Ever’ (theguardian, 21 September 2019) < https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/21/across-the-globe-millions-join-biggest-climate-protest-ever > accessed July 4 2021