2020, we are here. It has arrived.
With such a beautiful number, it could only mean that an important year lies ahead of us.
If 2019 was the year in which climate change became a hot topic in the press, 2020 will already be the ‘deadline’ year .
Think about it, it will be a time to come to terms with success (or failures)of current policies - as the European climate and energy targets had a 2020 deadline .
These deadlines (more details here) include a lot of 20s: 20% of energy to come from renewables , 20% emission cuts and 20% improvements in energy efficiency. A clever way of using the number twenty to make it sound memorable and fancy and yet it is something that seems so abstract and far away. Now this ‘magic’ year is here and we are no longer allowed to bury our heads under the sand thinking it’s something far in the future. We need to know whether we are even close to that and by how much. We need clear data presented in a transparent way.
Eurostat has some of these data available and they are available here , both as a total and divided by country .
Surely, we might be getting close to some targets given the efforts and the big advertising around these policies and yes, 77 is indeed a lower number than 100, so it seems that when it comes to overall emissions we are doing better.. but, if you look at the energy consumption column, this is actually increasing , meaning that we are still living a consumeristic and capitalistic life style, and maybe we have become better at managing direct CO2 emissions (have we, really?).
But what about hidden costs ?
I know , I know... I am always the one ruining the party, but someone has to be the devil advocate .. or not ?
Think about it, we are so focusing on just CO2 emissions (from our productions ? And calculated how?) but actually there is so much more source of greenhouse gases (including CO2) such as deforestation and loss of natural environments like peatlands and marshes. Things that we do in order to fuel our crazy lifestyles and urbanise more nature . Are these ‘emissions’ from habitat loss calculated ?
And there is more , plastic is now everywhere , even in rain and that can have effects on biodiversity and in turn create even more losses of ecosystem functionality and still create more emissions (if we again want to focus on that emission number). So we have to be honest, and statisticians doing this job also have to be honest. Journalist play a big role here and they cannot just report the happy numbers and ignore the rest , and all of us have to be honest and aware.
This is my suggestion for 2020: be honest. Consider the planet. Do whatever it is that you can. Push the limit of comfort a little, you might realise it’s not that bad and it will have good consequences. I think we are moving in the right direction and I am proud of all the people that care and already have made huge progresses.
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