Top 10 Sustainability Highlights of 2021

2021 was a prominent year for sustainability. We’ve witnessed major high-level commitments globally, devastating climate change related natural disasters and heard scientists warn ‘code read for humanity’ in the latest IPCC report. Whilst we’ve seen strides of progress in some areas, the world still has a long, winding road ahead of us if we are to keep within the 1.5C target.

With the start of 2022 well and truly upon us, we thought an introspective look at the year we’ve left behind would help keep the lessons of the past in mind as we take on new challenges for this year.

Here are our Top 10 Sustainability Highlights of 2021:

1. European Union negotiators reached a dealon the European Climate Law, agreeing on a new 2030 ambition to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

2. According to Net-Zero Tracker, 90% of GDP is now covered by net-zero commitments from nations

3. Official launch of the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD).The Taskforce is aiming to corporate reporting and financial spending with science to alleviate nature-related risks.

4. UK becomes first G7 nation to mandate climate reporting in line with the recommendations of the global Taskforce for Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

5. 2021 marks the first year of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, spotlighting the drive to focus on nature-based climate solutions to promote natures natural carbon sequestering capabilities

6. SBTi launch first world’s first framework for corporate net-zero target setting in line with climate science.

7. UK Transport Decarbonization Plan was launched with commitment to stop the sale of new petrol and diesel HGVs from 2040 and aviation to seek alternative fuels and offsetting by 2050.

8. COP26 in November saw major new international deals on issues including methane, forests, cars, human rights and cleantech. Climate protests took to the streets in 100,000s as countless new commitments from cities, regions, states and businesses were drawn up. Read our COP26 wrap up data visualisation brochure.

9. International Sustainability Standards Board established in the push toward unifying and standardising a framework for non-financial disclosure.

10. Growing momentum in fossil fuel divestment drive – the Global Fossil Fuel Divestment Commitments Database reported that nearly 1500 institutions and $39.2tn has been divested from fossil fuel companies.

Looking ahead… Themes for 2022

Growing climate concerns has put sustainability on the top of the agenda of most corporations and governments. But there remains much work to do and in 2022, we can expect the following themes to underpin key outcomes:

  1. Net zero commitments and actions
  2. Divestment and engagement in greener investing practises
  3. Sustainability now a ‘must have’ in most businesses