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SUSTAINABILITY SNAPSHOT

Welcome to our latest Sustainability Snapshot blog exploring some of the key stories from the world of sustainability that caught our attention over the last month.

Netflix recently launched its new documentary ‘Seaspiracy,’ exploring the devastating impact of the fishing industry on the planet and the challenges we face going forward in finding a sustainable solution.

Last month, the UK government came under scrutiny as Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced his Spring budget, whilst a report from Greener UK claimed that UK ministers have been watering down green pledges. This comes as the EU was praised for launching its new ‘Right to Repair Rules’, which will come into effect this summer.

In more positive news, the 2021 World Nature Photography Awards celebrated the planet in all its glory, with snaps from the islands of Hawaii to the plains of Tanzania.

Check out more of what we’ve been reading and watching below…

Spring budget fails to deliver

Whilst Chancellor Rishi Sunak made some commitments to the environment in his spring budget, many critics have argued that the measures did not go far enough to address the scale of the challenge of climate change. This comes only a month after Boris Johnson told the UN Security Council that climate change is as big a threat to world peace as war.

The EU makes progress

Despite the UK government coming under scrutiny, the EU recently made headway with its ‘Right to Repair’ laws. The new rules, which will come into effect this summer, will require all new devices to come with repair manuals and be made in such a way that they can be dismantled using conventional tools. Manufacturers will also have to ensure parts are available for up to a decade.

Net-zero not enough

Research has revealed that only one in five of the world’s 2,000 largest publicly listed companies has committed to a “net-zero” emissions target. It’s therefore no surprise that Sir James Bevan, chief executive of The Environment Agency, has warned that current goals won’t be enough to stop climate change. “We need to design and build our infrastructure, our cities and our economy so that they are resilient to the effects of the changing climate”, he said at a recent roundtable, as he called for a ‘”net-zero plus” approach.

The impact of fake news

Fake news on social media about climate change could be having a devastating impact on current efforts to halt climate change, according to a report published by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science. Author Owen Gaffney commented that false reports online have “created a toxic environment” which is “limiting our ability to make long-term decisions needed to save the planet”.

UK media continues to go green

Following a number of climate initiatives by Sky and ITV last month, several publications have now ramped up their environmental efforts. The Times has kick-started a new series that “will tell you everything you need to know about climate change” whilst the Financial Times has launched Climate Capital, a new hub that it hopes will be the “go-to place” for news on the environment.

IEMA calls for more diversity in the environmental sector 

Sarah Mukherjee, the CEO of IEMA which represents sustainability professionals, has warned of the environmental sector’s “shocking lack of diversity”. In 2017 a report identified that only 3% of staff working in the industry were from a BAME background and that individuals from minority backgrounds often faced workplace discrimination. As a result, the IEMA has launched a new Diverse Sustainability Initiative, which will require companies to commit to improving these inequalities.

Countdown to COP26

Over 170 environmental groups have written a collective open letter to the government calling for the removal of major global polluters from COP26. The letter follows a 2019 report that revealed that 20 firms are behind one-third of carbon emissions. The letter argues that having these companies involved in the event would “poison the debate” as it sets out five steps “to realise fossil-free and polluter-free UN climate talks”.

Meanwhile, the UK, Italy and Singapore joined forces last month for the Singapore COP26 Youth Climate Dialogue. Twenty youth participants, including individuals in tertiary education, young professionals and youth advocates, came together to discuss the priorities and goals of COP26 including the importance of engaging with young people in the fight against climate change.