Every December we research the topics and trends likely to be talked about - or acted on - in the coming year. Here are a few to keep you up to date and 'in the know' in 2020. 

Fireworks will go up in smoke

Many of us love a good fireworks display. But fireworks come at a cost – financial, human and environmental – which makes their continued use unsustainable. In 2020 I think we might see these bright colourful choreographed explosions confined to public and organised events only. Sainsburys stopped selling them over the counter this year and other retailers will soon follow, leading to an outright ban in future years. But don’t despair… technological innovation will prevail and allow us to still enjoy an illuminated sky. Think drone swarms…

Ecoanxiety [and action] will rise

2019 saw the rise of extinction rebellion and a plethora of alarming news stories on the climate crisis which has led to just over a third of the British public feeling anxious because of the environmental emergency. This sense of fear has been dubbed ‘ecoanxiety’. But rather than viewing it as a medical condition that needs to be cured, ‘ecoanxiety’ can be seen as a reasonable, rational response to the significant changes the world is going through. As an alternative to medication, those experiencing ‘ecoanxiety’ will be advised to take action as a way to cope. Think medical professionals prescribing social action…

Creativity and critical thinking will finally make it into the classrooms

Children today are taught to regurgitate knowledge and memorise information to pass exams. But the world of work now doesn’t require that ‘skill’. It needs pioneers in problem-solving, critical thinking and creativity, yet in England, these skills barely make it onto the curriculum. As a result, Britain’s young people are not gaining the skills they need for the future.

In 2020, parents, teachers and students will become much more aware of this problem and demand change. In the face of a looming generation of young people ill-prepared for work and life, our new Government will be forced to prioritise broader skills in UK education. About time too…

The web will no longer be dominated by the English language

English has always dominated online. But now the majority of the billions of people using the internet every day are from developing countries. This is why, in 2020 over half of the web will be written in languages that are not English. Expect to see the internet being increasingly localised with content composed in dozens of different languages. The consequences? English may eventually lose its position as the internet’s core dialect – supplanted perhaps by Spanish or by Mandarin Chinese.

Businesses will be powered by purpose. At last.

In 2020, regenerative businesses – with environmental protection and social goals embedded in their DNA will start to take centre stage. G20 countries will start to reflect the obligations of businesses to end exploitation and extraction in favour of regeneration. Investors and consumers are demanding responsibility and action from businesses large and small. One thing businesses cannot be in 2020 is exploitative and ignorant. Profit with responsibility is now a must.  

Seaweed will hold the key to cow gas-emissions

Livestock are responsible for 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions, two-thirds of which are emitted by the planets 1.5 billion cows, as gut microbes called methanogens turn excess food energy into methane. The warming potential of this greenhouse gas is 25 times greater than that of C02 – with meat and dairy consumption projected to rise in the coming decade.

But there might be an answer. Seaweed. Currently being farmed in Vietnam is a reddish looking seaweed which contains a compound that disrupts methane production in cows. If all the cows on the planet were fed this seaweed [we need to produce 200million tonnes of the stuff every year] the effects will be astronomical. It will be the equivalent of taking every car off the road. Who would have thought the solution to this problem can be found on our shores. Mind-blowing.

The electric scooter will be more than a guest appearance

Light electric vehicles – especially e-scooters, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, which allow people of all ages and abilities to move around almost effortlessly [and fast] will feature in many European cities. But not here in the UK. Unfortunately. We need an ancient law to be overturned and fewer risk-averse people making decisions before we see light electric vehicles in our towns and cities.

These wonderful vehicles are helping congested areas to switch – or move towards becoming ‘car free’. In 2020, major European cities will ban cars from its centre altogether – removing car parks and spaces and replacing roads with bike lanes, mini parks and benches. By the end of the decade, expect cars to be non-existent in many places. Think Venice [without the gondolas].

Hate [not love] will have a voice

Toxic debate, hating and acts of violence [or threatening such] will, unfortunately, have a voice in 2020 and whip up a storm of hatred, racism, and vile. This is largely due to the rise in right wing thinking which is being welcomed into mainstream forums across the world. It’s nasty. And unfortunately, it seems it is here to stay for a while. Social media platforms failing to address issues of hate and the toxic nature of the discourse is seeping into the minds of the young and old – with little challenge. Be scared. But call it out.