As we approach day 60 in lockdown, law students across the country are experiencing a very different summer term to that imagined at the start of the year. Graduations have either been postponed indefinitely or are to be streamed via Zoom – an anti-climactic end deprived fully of all the usual pomp and celebration rightly owed to this landmark achievement. A pronounced mixture of loss and frustration resonates with students and staff alike at the prospect of continued disruption into September. For me, the strangeness of the situation is summarised well by the fact that my would-be exam hall within the ExCel centre is currently kitted out with ventilators and empty beds, functioning as ‘NHS Nightingale’.
And yet the natural world beyond our screens provides reason to remain positive. Now living back at home in north Northumberland, I’m lucky enough to be within walking distance of my nearest beach, which is now mostly undisturbed save for a handful of locals. Coming home, the difference in air quality alone of my recent halls of residence (just off Euston Road, infamously known as one of the city’s most polluted streets) and Northumberland was stark – but happily now lessened by the sudden drop in London air pollution since lockdown!
Similarly, today’s news that global carbon emissions have dropped by 13.6% is welcome but to be taken with a pinch of salt, as Corinne Le Quéré of Natural Climate Change warns: ‘Just behavioural change is not enough, […] we need structural changes [to the economy and industry]. But if we take this opportunity to put structural changes in place, we have now seen what it is possible to achieve.’ Quéré’s caution is no doubt part of a wider, necessary conversation concerning the future of societal behaviours centred around an international green recovery effort.
To this end, a joint statement made on the 18th May by 150+ big corporate names – among them Coca-cola and Vodafone – called for the economic recovery to be aligned with a net zero agenda and to be based on science-based climate goals. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres said of the statement: ‘many companies are showing us that it is indeed possible and profitable, to adopt sustainable, emission-reducing plans even during difficult times like this’, a narrative which could well be replicated soon in the legal sector.
First Year Law Student UCL
Intern at Achill Management