As the year comes to a close we often feel obliged to look back at the year and think about all that has happened.
While 2021 has been a dour year for many, in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there have been a few more upbeat political stories that have graced the headlines this year – here’s our pick of some of 2021’s good news…
Worldwide Rollout of Vaccines
As tired as we might all be of seeing the headlines dominated by news of COVID-19, it deserves to be pointed out that the UK vaccination and booster rollout has been relatively successful, with 90% of the population over 12 years old having received at least one dose of the vaccine and 70.4% of the total population being fully vaccinated, with more than 132 million doses having been administered. Almost 50% of the population have received a booster jab.
Of the world population, over 8.8 billion doses have been administered, with 48.3% of the world being fully vaccinated.
The UK and other countries around the world have been donating vaccines and aid to countries in greater need, and while it can be argued that more should be done, the creation and rollout of vaccines have been a significant success and good news for millions.
The Chinese government announced in June that the World Health Organisation had certified the country as Malaria free, after a decades-long effort to subdue the disease.
Meanwhile, a team of researchers found that an HIV vaccine had shown 97% effectiveness in phase 1 clinical trials. If the vaccine passes further trials and is approved, it could be a massive shot of good news, with HIV currently thought to be affecting around 40 million people across the world.
In January the UK government passed the Environment Act 2021, an act designed to “make provision about targets, plans and policies for improving the natural environment”.
In October and November COP26 took place, with representatives from 197 countries making agreements to help meet climate targets – though many criticised the outcomes of the conference for not going far enough.
Wales has begun a project of planting 86 million trees across the country by 2030, in an effort to meet climate targets.
Syukuro Manabe won the Nobel Prize for physics, for quantifying the relationship between greenhouse gases and temperature in the 1960s, work that has since become the backbone of every climate model.
In Europe, electric vehicles outsold diesel-powered vehicles for the first time, following falling costs of electric vehicles, more charging infrastructure, and increasing fuel prices.
Strides Made in Representation
In January, Kwasi Kwarteng was made Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy, becoming the Conservative’s first black Secretary of State. Also in January, Kamala Harris made history in the United States when she became the first woman, first black person, and first asian-American to become Vice-President.
Juneteenth was also recognised as a federal holiday in the US, as a commemoration of the 19th of June, 1865, the date of the announcement by Union Army general Gordon Granger which proclaimed freedom for slaves in Texas.
In February, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala became the first African, and first woman to hold the post of Director-General of the World Trade Organisation.
In Mexico, Maria Clemente Garcia and Salma Luevano became the first openly transgender people to be elected to the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Mexican congress.
After taking a poll of its members, the National Trust banned trail hunting on its land, after concerns were raised about trail hunting being used to circumvent the ban on foxhunting.
Though not yet passed, the Animal Welfare (sentience) bill to recognise animals as sentient beings is currently undergoing its 2nd reading in the House of Commons. The recognition of animals as sentient was previously only law in the UK due to EU treaties.
And Some Picks Outside of Politics…
In March, a human brain was wirelessly connected to a computer for the first time, potentially opening the door for future prosthetics that paralysed people may be able to use.
In a joint partnership between NASA, ESA and CSA, the James Webb telescope was launched into space earlier this month. The telescope is around 100 times more powerful than Hubble, often considered as its predecessor.