Ten Problems for Environment in the 2020s

Environment Problems for the 2020s

Environmental Performance Reviews provide an independent assessment and targeted recommendations aimed at improving policies that impact the environment. The OECD provides harmonized international data and indicators on the environment, and works with countries to improve their environmental information systems and establish effective mechanisms to inform the public and decision-makers [1]. Based on economic-environmental modelling, the OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 analyses the consequences of policy inaction in four priority areas: climate change, biodiversity, water, and health impacts of pollution and chemicals.

For authors studying environmental concern or attitudes, survey development can be a daunting task. A large number of scales measuring environmental concern have been developed, and it can be challenging to make informed decisions about which to use. The Schultz scale would be an excellent choice for any study of general environmental attitudes, bearing in mind that the egoistic and social-altruistic concern factors are distinct from environmental concern as represented by the biospheric concern factor [2]. In addition to producing excellent fit to the data, this scale had by far the highest reliabilities of any instrument.

In May 2018, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution “Towards a Global Pact for the Environment”. This resolution established an intergovernmental working group to discuss the opportunity to open treaty negotiations to codify the fundamental principles of international environmental law into a treaty dubbed the Global Pact for the Environment. In May 2019, the intergovernmental working group completed its mandate and adopted a set of recommendations that were formally endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly in August 2019, without referring to the codification of the principles of international environmental law [3].

This study reviews the state of play of on-going EU environmental and climate legislation and pinpoints key challenges for the next five years [4]. Challenges arise from the plans released by the president-elect, such as a new European Green Deal, the completion of work started in the previous term (e.g. the Regulation on a framework for sustainable finance and the completion of the multiannual finance framework), by reviews of legislation foreseen for the next term and the need for action where indicators show that current EU environment targets may not be achieved.

Sustainability has been a core value since Google’s founding, and we strive to build sustainability into everything we do. In 2018, we achieved twelve consecutive years of carbon neutrality and, for the second year in a row, matched 100% of the electricity consumption of our global operations with renewable energy [5]. In the years to come, we’ll focus on how Google can accelerate the transition toward carbon-free energy and a circular economy, empower everyone with technology that enables sustainable action, and benefit the communities where we operate.

Starting from such general references, this booklet identifies ten relevant areas from very recent contributions put forward at academic level in the form journal articles, conference proceedings and students theses. Ten freely accessible internet references have been selected for each area and direct links are provided at the end of each chapter for own consultation. Our selected references do not intend to mirror ranking indexes nor establish novel classifications. On the contrary, they are meant to represent peer-reviewed, diverse and scientifically-sound case studies for vertical dissemination aimed at non-specialist readers. They will also be able to scoop even more references through the bibliography that is reported at the end of each selected reference.

Without further ado, these are the “Ten Problems for Environment in the 2020s” that we are going to introduce in this booklet:

  1. policies, 
  2. assessment,
  3. energy efficiency,
  4. economics,
  5. natural resources,
  6. public involvement,
  7. ecosystems,
  8. human factors,
  9. urban and rural,
  10. pollution.

Each problem has its own dedicated chapter made of an introductory section, a short presentation of the ten selected references and a conclusions section.

The final chapter of this booklet will report the conclusions from each chapter again in order to provide a complete executive summary.


[1] OECD Environment Directorate, “OECD Work on Environment”, 2019 September, OECD, online at 

[2] S.M. Cruz et al., “Measurement of Environmental Concern: A Review and Analysis”, 2020, Front. Psychol. 11:363. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00363, online at 

[3] G. de Lassus St-Geniès, “The Outcome of the Negotiations on the Global Pact for the Environment: A Commentary”, 2020, Sustainability 2020, 12, 877; doi:10.3390/su12030877, online at 

[4] A. Herold et al., “EU Environment and Climate Change Policies – State of play, current and future challenges”, 2019 September, Directorate-General for Internal Policies, European Parliament, online at 

[5] R. Porat et al., “Google Environmental Report 2019”, 2019 September, Google Inc., online at

“Ten Problems for Environment in the 2020s” booklet for Amazon Kindle, 2020; click on the cover to go to the dedicated Amazon listing page (Environment Problems)