Here’s a question for you: What would you say was planet Earth’s defining moment of 2022?
Potentially an impossible question for a year – like all that have come before it – that has seen innovation, progress and challenges all rolled into one.
Here’s another complex question: In 2023, how can we solve the many global issues faced at the personal, societal, and most importantly, planetary scale?
Maybe some initial answers spring to mind, but there is no miracle cure for the many obstacles we face as individuals or as a society. Still, rather than regretting, repenting or resenting the shortcomings of the past year, perhaps a better frame for 2023 would be that of reparation, resolve and of working together to reverse the damage that’s been already done.
One crisis in particular, to direct the second impossible question to, is climate change; a global challenge which can sometimes feel insurmountable.
However, rather than losing hope, giving up, or laying blame, the global spotlight should instead be redirected onto solutions; whatever shape, size or sentiment they may behold, climate solutions should be the hopeful sunlight on the horizon that we are all focused on reaching.
Such ambitions though, can only be achieved if everyone on the planet works together, across borders, to pave a better path forwards to get us there.
At the end of the day, Earth as a whole is the sum of many smaller working parts, therefore both the individual as well as the international community will need to be equipped with the right mindset and tools to succeed in preserving it.
As Richard Feynman, a historic theoretical physicist of our modern times, famously said:
“Here I stand, atoms with consciousness, matter with curiosity. A universe of atoms, an atom in the universe.”
As we step into 2023, with an entire 365 days to make a difference, here’s a snapshot of some solution-oriented new year’s resolutions ideas for people and the planet which could help us to take stock of the past, make the most of the present, and most importantly, secure prosperity for the future. There are no resolutions without solutions after all!
Every #NewYear is a moment of rebirth.
Together, let’s make 2023 a year when peace is restored to our lives, our homes, and our world. pic.twitter.com/fX0lspXlHp
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) December 31, 2022
1. Accelerate transformation
To ensure future prosperity for all, change is required. Therefore, an essential new year’s resolution for the planet is to accelerate transformation.
Evolution is actually the best tool nature possesses to adapt to change over time, but the rate at which our environment is now being altered due to climate change could be too fast for natural selection to keep up. In order to adapt, thrive and survive on our warming planet, the change must come proactively, from us. We need to transform the way we consume, the way we produce energy, and the policies that shape the functioning of global society.
There’s an abundance of information on the “how to’s” of shrinking carbon footprints, but don’t let the noise distract you from the core and urgent message: the unsustainable buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere poses a grave risk to humanity and the environment if we do not address it. Therefore, carbon footprints of every person, society and nation on this planet must shrink.
How can this be achieved? Well there are many ways, but certainly focusing on accelerating the clean energy transition and reducing impact at the industry level is a must.
For example, Europe has seen massive improvements in catalysing the shift towards solar energy this year. Despite the world being predicted to reach record levels of coal-use in 2022, it was actually a record year for Europe in solar PV installation which increased by almost 50% across the bloc, at the same time as the EU also hit a 30-year low in CO2 emissions. There is still room for improvement though, as it was also reported this year that the G20 invested almost $700 billion in fossil fuels in 2021.
Initiatives to reduce impact at the industry-level should also be highlighted in the coming year, for example, the beauty industry’s “Commit for Our Planet” program, which encourages cosmetics companies to commit to reducing the environmental footprint of the sector. L’Oreal, L’Occitane and Unilever are just some of the industry’s big names who have signed on.
Working towards ending plastic pollution will be a major focus for 2023 as well, as a myriad of reports released this year revealed the devastating impact the ubiquitous material is having on the planet.
These are just a few focal points of change that we can hope to see focused on more over the next 12 months, all of which will require a continuously evolving conversation around how policy can be reworked and reformed to facilitate the changes required.
It’s true that time is not on our side, but that doesn’t mean hope is lost.
The world is still running on fossil fuels. But, if moving away from dirty energy is like rerouting a giant ship, then this could be the year when world leaders started to turn the tanker around.
Here’s a baker’s dozen of climate wins from 2022! THREAD!🧵https://t.co/2yV7IrQslm
— Dr. Leah C. Stokes (@leahstokes) December 29, 2022
2. Bigger picture perspective
In order for these changes to root down and flourish, another important new year’s resolution for the planet is for everyone everywhere to adopt a planetary point-of-view. There must be a global commitment to collective climate action, and all nations must take part in helping to accelerate the rollout of the global infrastructure required to yield positive change.
A better way to look at our world, rather than as segmented societies, should perhaps be as one species on a spinning rock, all in the same boat, all plugging the holes to keep it afloat.
This perspective should also be reflected in the agreements and policy outcomes of international meetings, because global issues should be tackled as a global community, with global solutions.
Continuing to drive global change through international gatherings such as COP will be a crucial commitment for 2023. Further adopting the “One Health” perspective should also be top of the list of global priorities for the coming year.
In order to make informed decisions and changes, we must first calibrate an accurate climate perspective to understand the root cause of the problems. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, technologies such as ClimateTRACE may provide us with a zoomed-out angle of observation to track where emissions are coming from, and better define a planetary-scale action plan to reduce them.
A zoomed-out worldview will also be essential in successfully preparing for the climate migration of millions of people as the crisis intensifies; an important global issue which Gaia Vince, author of “Nomad Century,” says will “reshape our world.”
A panoramic view of the Earth from @NASA spacewalker Josh Cassada's helmet cam as the space station orbited over Spain's northwest coast earlier today. https://t.co/yuOTrZ4Jut pic.twitter.com/GKy3PCm2Fs
— International Space Station (@Space_Station) December 3, 2022
3. Esprit de corps
A good way to discourage division and encourage collective action, is to foster solidarity in the face of adversity, cultivating a support network for all people – both politically and philanthropically – to tackle the many shared hurdles we face. Togetherness must be one of the planet’s 2023 new year’s resolutions.
As UN Chief, Antonio Guterres reminded the world on International Solidarity Day last week: “The world is not short on solutions, yet we face a shortage of solidarity.”
How can we better stand up for one another, and forge a shared path towards a brighter version of our unequivocally interdependent futures?
Related Articles: A Year in Review: How Has Europe Fared for Sustainability in 2022? | Your Sustainable Agenda for 2023 | One Health on the 2023 Wish List
The landmark loss and damage fund agreed upon in the concluding COP27 agreement was a good first step, though many were disappointed with the outcomes of COP27. There is however, a long way still to go in our journey towards climate justice, which should underpin all climate conversations throughout the next year.
Supporting the NGO’s and activists who are raising their voices against climate inaction and championing causes that will inspire change, should be a priority this year. Perhaps a less destructive middle-ground could be reached when it comes to protests, so that cultural heritage in the form of art is not destroyed in the process.
Empathy must be cultivated at all levels of society, and governing bodies should lead the way. Multilateral climate collaboration should continue to be forged at the gatherings of global unions such as the EU, G20, G7, NATO, ASEAN for example, e.g. the recent G7 “Climate Club” that was formed to keep the climate crisis top of the list of global priorities.
We are living through difficult times.
The world is not short on solutions, yet we face a shortage of solidarity.
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) December 20, 2022
4. Open-minded innovation
As we’ve established, our collective bright future hinges in part on our capacity to commit to change and adapt. But in order to make space for the required change, we must first commit to maintaining an open mind on solution-orientated innovation, another important new year’s resolution for the planet.
When Thomas Edison – often called “the father of invention” – first pitched the idea for the electric lightbulb to his peers in the scientific community, his idea was disregarded. Imagine if that was the end of the story, would we be conducting our lives by candlelight?
No probably not, because someone else would surely have come up with something similar eventually, but the point remains: within reason, we only really stand to gain from innovation, so new ideas and solutions should be embraced.
Some breakthrough innovations that could help repair the planet and reverse climate change include:
- Refreezing the arctic, like Sir David King and his group at the Centre for Climate Repair at Cambridge University are trying to do.
- More carbon-free flights, such as the one announced by Icelandic Air.
- Accelerating sustainable tourism, by calculating the carbon footprint of travel at the level of each airline passenger, such as is the mission of The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Prince Harry’s non-profit, Travalyst.
- Using AI to reduce waste in hospitality, by employing Winnow’s breakthrough kitchen bin image analysis technology to minimise food waste.
- Helping consumers track the impact of food choices, by adding climate labels to menus using Klimato’s web app to calculate the carbon footprint of each meal.
- Going plastic-free by using sustainable alternatives, such as Arqlite’s upcycled plastic building materials, or mushroom skins to make computer chips.
- Using human hair to clean up oil spills, like the “hairdressers who say no to landfill” as part of the Green Salon Collective.
Our 2021 Winners have already seen their world-changing innovations significantly grow, here's how:
— The Earthshot Prize (@EarthshotPrize) December 23, 2022
5. Personal integrity
As much as the governments of the world have a responsibility to put aside their differences and prioritise climate action, this climate responsibility must also be upheld at the personal level as well.
That’s why new year’s resolutions for the planet, must also come from the people.
Our planet is only as strong as it’s smallest working parts, and changes at the planetary level can only be realised if each level of society, all the way down to the individual, are each contributing their part.
Unfortunately however, in the busy schedules of everyday life, it’s sometimes difficult to focus on long-term priorities.
However, rather than self-sacrifice, perhaps making sustainable choices could be viewed as a form of self-care, and of ambitious planning for ones own prosperous future. At the end of the day, if we do nothing, or even just simply not enough, then daily life will no longer be able to distract us from the climate crisis, because it will be entirely destabilised by it.
James Clear, author of New York Times bestseller “Atomic Habits,” writes in the book: “changes that seem small and unimportant at first, will compound and turn into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them.”
If we can all employ this mindset to fuel the integration of sustainable practices into our own daily lives, then the small individual improvements on a planet of eight billion will begin to have an immense impact.
To help the planet, and therefore your future self, Impakter has already composed a sustainable agenda for each month of 2023, all you have to do is follow it!
📅🌎 Instead of planning #resolutions for the whole year to come, take #2023 one step at a time by setting a goal for each month. Here are 12 #sustainable resolutions to complete your sustainable #agenda for 2023.
— IMPAKTER ECO (@Impaktereco) December 27, 2022
Correction: This article has been amended since publication to reorganise some sections for flow and clarity, and to remove company names in regards to plastic pollution to avoid potential misunderstanding.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by the authors are their own, not those of Impakter.com — In the Featured Photo: View of Earth from Apollo 11. Featured Photo Credit: Project Apollo Archive/Flickr