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A pat on the back for the UK

10 March, 2023

In the UK (and elsewhere!) good news can feel like a scarce commodity at times. And while there’s lots in the news this week to feel disheartened by, we wanted to call attention to two more positive stories. The first is that we’ve managed to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions faster than the global average last year, and the second is that we’ve been recognised as one of the most socially liberal countries in the world.  

Over the past year, greenhouse gas emissions in Britain fell by more than 3%, compared to a 0.9% increase in global energy-related emissions. Despite the UK’s economy growing by 4%, holes in the government’s climate plans and the slow implementation of insulated homes and behaviour change, the UK is halfway to its net zero goal by 2050. A combination of increased wind supply and decreased demand for heating due to the summer heatwave meant that carbon emissions from coal and gas fell. If the UK manages to maintain this overall reduction annually in the decades ahead, it will be on track to meet its net zero target. This is obviously a challenge-  but not an insurmountable one – and really would be an achievement to shout to the rooftops about. 

Meanwhile, a survey conducted across 24 countries has shown that the UK is one of the most liberal nations in its attitudes to divorce, abortion, euthanasia, suicide and casual sex. It’s also shown a dramatic increase in acceptance of homosexuality, casual sex and prostitution. The shift is largely generational, as the views of younger people, who tend to be more progressive, start to become more prominent. That said, over 50% of the pre-war generation now say they accept divorce (up from just 20% in 2009), so change is happening at all ends of the age group.  

It’s important to recognise when we’ve done something right, and that positive change is well within reach if we keep on at it and don’t become complacent. But for now, the UK deserves a small pat on the back. 

By Rosie Serlin

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