World Environment Day, happening tomorrow against the background of a global pandemic and civil strife in the United States, aims to bring the public’s attention back to environmental issues happening in 2020.
The celebration which was begun by the United Nations in 1972 happens every June 5.
Curtin University professor of sustainability Peter Newman says the coronavirus pandemic has created a great opportunity to reflect on our environment.
“In America this week the amount of power being used [from] renewables is now equal to the amount of coal being used.
“So the marginal cost is almost zero with renewables because it is coming from the sun … and it just hastens the demise of coal in the system as it is no longer as useful,” Professor Newman says.
Professor Newman says a fundamental shift is happening.
“Environmental things can be built into the economy in a whole new way.
“We can be re-generating the environment not just minimising our impact.
“We can have far more use of renewable energy, we can have far more use of recycling of waste and far less use of cars, more public transport, biking and walking.
The Australian Association for Environmental Education president Jennifer Pearson says people and governments should be embracing innovation.
“It seems to have come at the cost of underpinning the ecosystems … it would be helpful if the government would make sustainability the cornerstone of their decision-making rather than profit,” she says.
Dr Pearson says World Environment Day delivers hope to the community.
“We know we have the sciences and the technology to support them.
“We have so many wonderful stories where people have come together in the community to look after their local patches of bush or whatever that they are holding … so we just need to keep stepping forward and encouraging each other,” she says.
The Australian Religious Response to Climate Change president Thea Ormerod says meditation can be useful for environmental activists.
“Meditation is actually used therapeutically by counsellors,” she says.
“We want to help people, not to be so calm that they don’t do anything about it, but at least be able to manage their own anxiety.”
Ms Ormerod says World Environment Day draws public attention to caring about environmental issues.
“I think activists have used it at times also for the same reason, to draw attention to the fact that we need to care about our climate, stop plastic pollution, we need to preserve habitats for the other species we share the planet with,” she says.
Ms Ormerod says an effective plan is needed to stop environmental degradation.
“We need effective plans to shift over to renewable forms of energy, energy efficiency, the electrification of transport, a price on carbon, these are the sorts of things that are going to have a lasting impact on our level of pollution.”
The AAEE holds this event to engage the community to share thoughts which value, restore and conserve the environment.