There is power in positivity! Celebrating wins for the climate can continue to advance work towards addressing climate change, protecting biodiversity and inspiring further action. Collective action is the only way forward, so it takes everyone—from global initiatives and government agencies to conservation organizations and corporate businesses to local communities and you and me. There are commitments to change, striking solutions, dynamic discoveries, and so much more, all by people who care enough to try.
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To continue to inspire a wave of change, check out these 10 wins for the climate. Then, help us spread the optimism! Pick one of the below to share on your socials so you can combat doom scrolling today!
64% of people say that climate change is an emergency
The win: The results are in from the largest survey on climate change ever conducted! And 64% of people said that climate change was an emergency. The Peoples’ Climate Vote reached over 1.2 million respondents for results spanning 50 countries covering 56% of the world’s population.
The impact: While acknowledging the problem with climate change is only the first step of many in fixing the problem, nearly all respondents, 97%, fully supported climate action with at least one policy. While people around the world might have differing opinions on climate change and how to address it, this survey indicates a clear and convincing call for decision-makers to tackle this issue.
110 countries pledged carbon neutrality by 2050
The win: The European Union, Japan, South Korea, along with more than 110 countries have pledged carbon neutrality by 2050; China says it will do so before 2060. In a similar vein, the U.S. set a new target to achieve a 50-52% reduction in greenhouse gas pollution by 2030. These countries will need to create robust plans to reach these aspirations, which could include replacing coal, gas and oil power sources with renewable, switching to electric transport and more.
The impact: According to the UN, net-zero means we are not adding new emissions to the atmosphere. Emissions will continue but will balance by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere. These countries that have made commitments for carbon neutrality represent more than 65% of global carbon dioxide emissions and more than 70% of the world economy.
The area of forests regrown since 2000 covers the size of France
The win: A study by Trillion Trees revealed that nearly 100 acres of natural forest area grew back since 2000. As such, scientists are calling for a greater emphasis on forest regeneration, in which natural forests are allowed or encouraged to recover under their own steam, for the benefit of ecosystems, communities and the climate.
The impact: Natural climate solutions are a vital part of the fight against climate change, including forest restoration. According to WWF, “This area of forest has the potential to store the equivalent of 5.9 gigatons of CO2—more than the annual emissions of the United States.” While stopping emissions is critical, restoration is a cost-effective way to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
Well over 1,000 major corporations lead the zero-carbon transition
The win: Over 1,700 companies worldwide have joined Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) that aims to convince corporations to reduce emissions at the pace and scale necessary that aligns with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement to prevent the worst effects of climate change. It helps provide clear criteria and a step-by-step process for all businesses while also demonstrating that creating a climate-secure world goes together with successful business operations. As companies make these commitments and take the lead on these efforts for carbon emission reduction, it takes off the pressure on individuals.
The impact: It has a proven track record on delivering emissions cuts too. According to SBTi, companies with science-based targets have reduced their combined emissions by 25% between 2015 and 2019, a difference of 302 million tons of C02, the same as the annual emissions from 78 coal-fired power plants.
Electric vehicles are driving change
The win: As of 2020, nearly 1.8 million electric vehicles were registered in the U.S., more than three times as many as in 2016, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). In addition, there was a record 761,000 electric vehicles sold in 2020 representing the fifth consecutive year of growth in EV sales. China and Europe lead the way on new electric vehicle sales, but new government commitments can potentially help the rest of the world catch up.
The impact: According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation activity emits more greenhouse gases in the U.S. (29% of total emissions in 2019) than any other sector of our economy. With available technologies like electric-drive vehicles that continue to become more popular as technology improves, prices lower, and government subsidies, we can reduce the climate-changing emissions produced by moving goods and people.
A multibillion-dollar plastics plant was delayed in a win for local activists
The win: The U.S. has delayed a proposed multi-billion plastics plant in Louisiana, which activists and members of the majority Black community campaigned against for years, an important victory for environmental justice. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it would commission a full environmental review of the proposed Formosa Group petrochemical plant. The review could take years, which will further delay the construction.
The impact: When a local community comes together, it can have a major impact on its own environment. The planned plastic plant faces opposition by local groups concerned about the health impact on an area already overburdened with pollution. It is estimated that the plant would roughly double toxic emissions in the local area. A lawsuit brought by local environmental groups has already delayed the project since November that prompted the Army Corps to suspend its Clean Water Act permit for further review, according to Reuters.
50 countries vow to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030
The win: At the One Planet Summit this year, 50 countries committed to protecting 30% of the planet, including both land and water, over the next decade to save species, address climate change issues, and protect biodiversity. The U.S. followed suit on these commitments to protect biodiversity by preserving 30% of American lands and 30% of its waters by the deadline.
The impact: The U.S. is currently conserving around 26% of its coastal waters but only about 12% of its land in a largely natural state, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
90% of media coverage accurately represents climate change
The win: A recent study that analyzed print media coverage over the past 15 years in the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada found that across all the years of analysis, 90% of the sample accurately represented climate change. In addition, the data suggest that scientifically accurate coverage of climate change is improving over time.
The impact: The media can help shape audiences’ views, behaviors and actions. When the coverage accurately depicts the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change, it can continue to grow awareness of the relevant issues and actions to address them.
New Australian marine parks are expanding the protected share of Australia’s oceans to 45%
The win: The Australian government has committed to creating two marine protected areas around Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean that will cover 286,000 square miles of ocean. It is twice the size of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and bigger than France. It expands the protected share of Australia’s oceans from 37% to 45%.
The impact: According to Darren Kindleysides, CEO of the Australian Marine Conservation Society, in a statement: “Oceans across the globe are in deep trouble from pollution, overfishing, habitat loss and the very real and immediate impacts of climate change. Establishing marine parks to provide a safe haven for our marine life is critical in helping stop our oceans reaching a tipping point.”
The U.S. is limiting planet-warming chemicals
The win: The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new regulation that would limit the production and import of hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs chemicals used in air conditioning, refrigeration and other applications, by 85% over the next 15 years. HFCs are powerful man-made greenhouse gases that are rapidly building up in the atmosphere.
The impact: While consumers will likely see little to no change to their appliances, just safer alternatives and more energy-efficient technologies, the environmental impact of phasing out HFCs could be huge. When they get into the atmosphere, HFCs are extremely good at trapping heat, making them significantly more powerful than CO2 in causing short-term global warming. The EPA estimates that its new regulation would cut the equivalent of 4.7 billion metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2050, which is nearly equal to the same amount of CO2 that U.S. power plants release in three years.
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