In need of a pick-me-up after last night’s lockdown announcement? Check out this list of eight things we can all be hopeful about right now.
Things are looking pretty rubbish at the moment, aren’t they?
While it’s OK to acknowledge that things are a bit shit, sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves of all the things that aren’t going wrong – especially when social media tends to make things feel even bleaker.
With this in mind, we’ve put together this short list of things you can be hopeful about right now. From Covid-19 vaccinations to more climate action, there are plenty of things to look forward to in 2021 and beyond – and while reading this list may not solve all the world’s problems, we hope it can provide a little light amid the darkness.
1. More than a million people in the UK have now been vaccinated against Covid-19
Although the numbers are yet to be confirmed, it is likely more than a million people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 in the UK – with the introduction of Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine set to speed up efforts.
On 27 December, the official total of people vaccinated – which is updated weekly – was 944,539. After the loss of the last nine months, it’s a landmark which may finally signal a light at the end of the tunnel.
2. This year’s Veganuary is the biggest yet (and growing every second)
More than 440,000 people have already signed up to the 31-day vegan challenge, the biggest since the Veganuary pledge began in 2014. The number surpasses the record set in 2020, when 400,000 people signed-up.
While some aspects of the vegan diet may not be good for the planet, for the most part, a switch to a vegan diet is a great way to cut down on food-related emissions – an important step in the right direction when it comes to the climate crisis.
Indeed, since the Veganuary pledge first began in 2014, it is believed that 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq have been saved by people cutting out animal products from their diet – and with sign-ups for this year’s challenge continuing to grow, it’s a massive step in the right direction.
3. Green electricity is on track to overtake coal as the largest power source by 2025
In some exciting climate news, more and more people around the world are turning to renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power – with a report by the International Energy Agency published in November forecasting that green electricity is on track to overtake coal as the largest power source by 2025.
4. A crucial Glasgow climate conference will finally go ahead
In November world leaders will meet in Glasgow for a follow-up conference to the landmark 2015 meeting in Paris, where the Paris climate deal was signed.
This conference – which was originally scheduled for November 2020 but was cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic – is important because the commitments countries made after the Paris meeting to cut carbon emissions haven’t done enough to keep global temperature rise beneath 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Currently, we’re on track to see a 3°C rise by the end of the century.
But not all hope is lost. Under the terms of the Paris agreement, world leaders must meet every five years to commit to bigger carbon cuts – and Glasgow marks the first opportunity for them to do just that. As a result, there’s hope that a series of bigger carbon-cutting commitments may emerge from the conference.
It’s not like we haven’t seen action that suggests this to be possible, either.
Over the last year we’ve seen massive progress when it comes to countries setting emissions targets, including in China (currently the world’s biggest source of carbon dioxide), where President Xi Jinping announced plans to reach carbon neutrality by 2060.
5. Support for populist beliefs have fallen across Europe
Countries across the EU have seen a fall in support for populist beliefs over the last year, according to a YouGov survey published by The Guardian in October.
Populism – an ideology which frames politics as a struggle between ordinary people and a corrupt elite class – saw a surge earlier in the decade in the form of politicians such as the USA’s Donald Trump and Brazil’s Jair Bolsanaro, as well as a swathe of populist campaigns and parties across Europe (including Brexit).
In light of the pandemic, a fall in populism may signify a rise in the amount of trust in science, politicians and experts – something that is crucial in the fight against Covid-19.
6. Trump will be leaving office very, very soon
While Trump’s departure provides plenty to be hopeful about, Biden and Harris’ arrival in the White House will also be cause for celebration – Biden has pledged to re-join the Paris climate accord on the first day of his presidency, and Harris will make history as the first woman and woman of colour to be vice president.
7. Netflix has committed to diversifying its content
In an interview with The Guardian in December, Netflix’s vice-president of original series Anne Mensah said the streaming platform was aiming to be a “force for good” by commissioning more diverse shows and talent, in a push to ensure it is “better reflecting the whole of the UK and what’s authentically modern British.”
Mensah’s pledge came after the platform announced a series of new shows featuring a range of brilliant British film-makers and writers, including Stormzy’s cultural strategist Akua Agyemfra, and Sex Education and Ms Marvel writer Bisha K Ali.
Not only is this a move in the right direction for the streaming service, but it’s a guarantee that we’ll be getting some absolutely brilliant shows in the not-so-distant future – and we can’t wait.
8. The days are getting lighter (and spring is coming)
After the darkness of winter, it’s satisfying to know that the days are getting lighter – and before long, spring will be here.
Although yesterday’s lockdown news may feel like a massive blow, thinking ahead to the light of spring – and knowing that every day it gets a little bit closer – is a welcome distraction from everything that’s going on.