As the year begins we are faced with political stagnation around Brexit and increasingly erratic behaviour from powerful world leaders. Against this backdrop trying to predict what will be the major environmental trends for 2019 is not easy – but here goes!

Disruption

An underlying theme for the year could be growing disruption. There is a growing number of young people increasingly frustrated by the lack of political leadership to fight climate change. 2018 saw the emergence of the Extinction Rebellion movement. There is a strong likelihood this movement will build using disruption to get their message across.

At a more systemic level, extreme weather events are likely to create other forms of disruption including pressures on food supplies and extreme heat in urban areas. This is likely to have financial implications and generally add to a feeling of uncertainty in what is likely to be a traumatic year. 

Plastic refinement

It is unlikely that the plastic debate will disappear especially as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall seems to have a new BBC series highlighting the issue due for release in the Spring. The debate will become more refined with greater attention on what happens to the waste that we send overseas for recycling and more focus on different types of plastic including microplastics released from clothing.

Conscious consumption

Environmental issues are rising up the list of concerns amongst young people. This will further fuel the growth of conscious consumption reinforced through social media. It is probable that the main areas of activity will be around a faster shift to vegetarian/flexitarian/vegan diets. Excessive packaging will continue to be called out and the fashion industry can expect increased attention – particularly around the release of the parliamentary Select Committee report on the sustainability of the industry.

Local activism

There will continue to be a growth of local activism with people wanting to do something positive against a backdrop of failing national politics and wider uncertainty. This will see a rise of community campaigns seeking to address single use plastics, local food initiatives cutting food waste and more community growing groups.

Patchy politics

Brexit will obviously dominate UK politics with significant lobbying taking place to ensure that environmental regulations are not weakened whatever the outcome. If Michael Gove remains at DEFRA there will continue to be significant focus on packaging, plastics and recycling, although if the Waste and Resources Strategy is anything to go by this will largely consist of a series of headline announcements backed by never-ending consultations.

There is likely to be less political leadership on more contentious issues such as climate change where the commitment to fracking and Heathrow expansion will make it incredibly difficult to present a coherent policy position.  Addressing air quality will also be shunted from the national to the local with local authorities expected to address the problem with limited resources.

Against this backdrop Hubbub will continue to deliver a wide variety of practical campaigns with an increased focus on addressing climate change and creating stronger local communities. If you’d like to stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletters below or follow Hubbub on social media.