2019 was the year when climate change went mainstream. The climate strikes in September, with the public face of Greta Thunberg, and against a backdrop of extreme weather events (heatwaves, the Amazon fires, flooding in Venice) really made people sit up and take notice. Air pollution and ocean plastics were also big topics this year, with environmental issues finally catching public attention alongside topics like migration, terrorism, and the economy.
The Notre Dame fire in April was one of the most-Googled news items of 2019. The thirtieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall in November also attracted global interest, and the cricket and rugby world cups were the sporting events that trended internationally.
Globally, 2019 was marked by protests and power politics: the Trump impeachment, mass protests in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang “re-education” camps, the livestreamed attack in Christchurch, the crisis in Venezuela, and more.
In Europe, the EU elections in May were obviously pretty important. Voter turnout increased, and the big story was perhaps that smaller parties did well, though traditional centre-right and centre-left parties just about managed to hang on (and populist and far-right parties failed to break through in a big way).
Brexit has been a long-running and confusing drama. Theresa May formally resigned in July, and most recently Boris Johnson won a stonking great majority in December. There will be plenty more Brexit drama in 2020, no doubt.
2019 is a year of fresh starts. There is now a new European Commission in place, a new European Parliament, a new head of the European Central Bank (and a new chief of the International Monetary Fund). Could this be the opportunity for a change of direction, and a more outward-looking Europe? Let’s see what 2020 brings.
Was 2019 a good year? And what will 2020 bring? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below!