How’s the New Year sustainable resolution? What has been of 2020? A mid-year review…

Just before we turned the calendar page to 2021 and amidst historical lockdown’s New Year celebrations across the planet, I wrote a small article titled Renewable Energy in 2020. It suggested potential New Year sustainable resolutions and wishes. The latter reflecting a NY’s tradition in both Portugal and Spain.

As we’re now in July, less than half-way through the end of 2021, it’s time to do a balance on how have we done so far with each one of our New Year sustainable resolutions. In a mid-year performance review style! Have you done yours? There’s still time for correction and stop those extra unsustainable behaviours, so you can be right back on track!

The first of my 2021 wishes, clearly didn’t materialise. Across the world many countries have been re-entering lockdowns due to new outbreaks, driven by Sars-Covid2 mutations spreading faster and with higher lethal risk as the Delta variant. Although some countries have been speeding up vaccination, increasing the immunity of its population, it hasn’t been enough. As of July 29th, the UAE is the country with highest percentage of inoculation, 79.3% with at least 1 dose and 70.8% of fully vaccinated population, according to the FT. Worldwide, the FT shows that 4.1 bn of vaccines doses have been given. Israel was the fastest country to reach 100 doses per 100 residents, doing so by mid-March. Second to Israel was the UK, achieving so by mid-June. According to Reuters, the inoculation speed prize for countries with a population over 1 million is now held by Ecuador with 1446 doses per 100k people. By October 2021 the FT estimates 5 billion doses could be administered with a likelihood just over 70%.

My second wish, has a brighter outcome. Climate Action has improved in 2020.

Arouca Unesco Global Geopark by Filipa Ferreira

 In terms of business and governmental actions, what has been done?

  1. Energy transition is occurring. Worldwide renewable installed capacity has increased by 2 percentage points in the total electricity generation installed capacity. In 2020 261 GW were added, reaching 36.6%, according to IRENA. South America is leading with 67.8%, Europe follows with 49.8% and Oceania with 46%. The latter is the continent with fastest growth, 4 p.p. from previous year. In terms of demand, IEA shows that renewable energy grew by 3% in 2020 reverting the overall contraction on electricity demand, that was induced by Covid-19 pandemic’s output restrictions.
  2. The USA is committed again with the Paris Agreement, officially back in 2021.
  3. NDCs have been partially delivered. 2020 was the deadline for the Paris Agreement signatories to submit or update its Climate-Action plans, 40% of the parties representing 30% of global GHG emissions have done so with the majority expecting to do so throughout 2021. The new commitments have increased coverage of the parties’ GHG emissions to 99.2%. Some have already started implementing their action plans, others set 2021 as the kick off year. The UNFCCC estimates that the current plans are insufficient to meet the Paris agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5ºC by 2030. GHG emissions are expected to reduce by 0.7% in 2030 in comparison to 2010, yet 45% reduction is needed. The remaining 60% needs to present and implement its Climate-Action plan urgently.
  4. Corporate Sustainability reporting has increased, but not all show the joint commitments requested to limit global warming to 1.5 ºC – 2ºC by 2030. More companies have signed pledges to do so and made public commitments to decarbonise its activities. Zero taskforces have been set up, to push industries to take bolder actions to decarbonise its sector. It’s a good step, we all would be much better if more embrace so and more material commitments are made, too.
  5. Climate risk is increasingly part of central banks stress testing. Sustainability compliance is becoming now a criterion to be financed across the whole finance value chain.

With COP26 expected to be held in Glasgow in November, what is being done? Some examples:

  1. Alok Sharma, COP26 president has been pushing for bolder commitments across the globe.
  2. The EU has approved its Climate Act and among other measures banned the Top 10 single-use plastic goods of Ocean leakage – cutlery, plates, cups and lids, straws, bottles and caps, food and beverage containers, lightweight plastic bags, cotton bud, tampons applicators, pads, balloons plus its sticks and fishing gear containing plastic. As of July 3rd, they no longer can be transacted. The expected impact of this ban is a 50% reduction on Ocean’s leakage, avoided annual emissions of 3.4 million CO2, and savings of Euros 6.5 billion of consumers’ annual budget. Hopefully the existent stock won’t end up in the Ocean.
  3. Sectoral Engagement is being carried out by the UNFCCC. Lookout for yours, engage and influence others to do so, too.

Myself? I certainly became more sustainable in my practices. I have been supplied by 100% sustainable energy sources for the longest time in my life. I have reduced my food intake to healthier portions, adding my sand grain to mitigate soil exhaustion and LULCF. I also managed to influence some people to recycle and reuse, extending certain products’ life cycle and participating even further in the circular economy. I’ve recently calculated my carbon footprint, too. It’s 53% below the UK average.

The Northern Hemisphere summer holidays season has started. It’s a good time to do your balance and, if needed, reconduct your sustainable behaviour. Happy Sustainable holidays!

Unesco Arouca Global Geopark


Smart cities paving the way to a sustainable GDP?

Smart cities is an evolving concept. It has been developed progressively with private and public responsibility, transforming our urban areas so they become more attractive and liveable. Albeit isn’t a uniform definition, it’s commonly accepted that, at least, it lies on mobility, infrastructure, economic growth, health, environment, and governance. Citizens, both residents and visitors, businesses and governments are increasingly demanding places where infrastructure, services and technological reliability are high and adaptable. To deliver so, it is important not only to innovate but also to collect, treat and analyse good data.

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on

During the Covid-19 pandemic priorities have changed. Having good health systems, technological infrastructures, and safe environments has become key. Lockdowns have pushed many to spend most of their time at home, restricting their mobility to very reduced geographic limits. As a way to escape the walls within which they have been confined, many started to put action on their long-postponed plan, explore those geographic limits. Tourism became more and more local, but not many businesses profited from this shift. The gain was on People’s welfare, which was enlarged by the decision of some to temporarily move to environments with better air quality and less density, being consequently less polluted and less contagious.This led to cost-savings for the Healthcare systems, overburdened by the Pandemic exponential demand for its services.

Awareness on environmental issues has raised during Pandemic, too. Studies done in 33 countries including top polluting countries such as China, USA, and India, show so. Probably triggered by the understanding of Covid-19 infection risk or by the benefits received while enjoying green spaces during lockdown time. The fact is that society is experimenting the benefits of preserving the Planet and cohabiting with a balance. More people, businesses and governments are willing to and have been shifting to e-mobility and procure sustainably, from the energy consumed at their premises to the growing paperless transactions; behaviours are changing to a larger extent.

Cities have gone through temporary exodus in 2021. This may lead to different scores from previous years on the several Smart Cities indexes, although their focus and methodologies are different, the reason for cities being ranked differently.

The welfare gains have been uncountable, for the time being. The third sequence of lockdowns attempting to contain the Covid-19 virus and its mutations’ spread could be the time for a Game Changer on Smart Cities. Perhaps a good criterion to be added to the multiple criteria that form the many Smart City indexes, is the cost-savings or the welfare gain the free, open air activities generate for Citizens, Businesses and Governments and that are increasingly appreciated by each one of these actors. Starting only with one of them may be simpler and can then pave the way to the long-waited change on the GDP factors, originating a sustainable GDP, GDP+. But this change cannot occur before having discussed and agreed a homogeneousness of the methodology to allow countries a fair comparison and ranking.

Isn’t this a good time for transparency on the estimated welfare?

A Safe and Sustainable Christmas Season

Each Christmas season many of us enjoy sending season greetings, increasingly more digitally than by post. Is one of those activities that makes senders feel closer to recipients. This year, a very different year, has led me to a different message as well. A Safe and Sustainable Christmas!

Although Safety has been always an issue, particularly as road accidents and fatalities increase around this time of the year and in spite of more stringent traffic measures from governments, this year it goes beyond road traffic. An invisible to the human eye element has disrupted the world. Traffic has dropped significantly. And it’s very likely that traffic around the world drops significantly too during this Christmas, as Covid-19 restrictions are imposed, particularly in Christian countries.

The Earth Globe protected with a medical mask and gloves, as the entire world needs protection equipment against Covid-19 infection.
Photo by Anna Shvets on

Imposed lockdowns meant safer citizens from Covid-19 infections. It also meant a drop on road traffic that globally averaged 50% reduction, as recently informed by the IEA. Consequently, the GHG emissions transport generates have also dropped, forecasts say it’s the sector with the highest reduction this year. Transport is the 4th most pollutant sector, accounting for 14% of the global GHG emissions, for the past decade. With more restrictions imposed until the end of the year, a bigger drop is expected in comparison to same period of previous years.

Less GHG in the atmosphere also means an increase in the air quality, and consequently healthier environments and less respiratory complications. Although sustainable, there is another element, which we cannot forget as it has been our 2020 companion and likely to remain in the first half of 2021, as the pandemic health experts inform. The invisible to the human eye disruptor that has multiplicated exponentially across the globe. Safety this year also means, skipping Covid-19 by practicing social distance and the correct health measures.

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