Oh 2020! What a year right? However there are some good news when it comes to our planet!
Here are a few of them:
Resurgence In Carbon Neutrality Pledges
In 2020, climate change was more than an afterthought. Several countries made pledges to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, including Japan, Canada, South Africa and South Korea. China joined the carbon neutrality pledges earlier this year with a pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. Though the U.S. had scaled back on commitments in the last few years, President-Elect Joe Biden announced on the campaign trail that he would aim to make a similar commitment for the U.S. in the next few years.
Renewing Commitments To Renewable Energy
The first half of 2020 made big strides for renewable energy. Almost 10% of energy was supplied by renewable sources like wind and solar. According to the International Energy Agency, the share of renewables is expected to increase by 4% in the next year!
Record Breaking Ocean Clean Up
In July of 2020 the ocean got a serious deep clean. A marine plastic cleanup crew successfully removed 103 tons of plastic trash from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. This means not only are there 103 fewer tons of plastic trash in the ocean, but our clean up efforts are improving. This was the largest ocean plastic clean up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch to date.
Investing In The Planet
Some of the biggest banks made big statements about climate change this year. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink started the year stating, “climate risk is an investment risk” and outlining the commitment of the bank to confront climate change in their daily business practices. Other banks followed suit, with JPMorgan Chase announcing a plan to hit carbon neutrality by 2050.
Species Bouncing Back
We love a good comeback story and 2020 was full of animals bouncing back from the brink of extinction. Notably, the Antarctic Blue Whale, the Hen Harrier, Heavers, The Great Fox Spider and the Kakapo made a resurgence this year.
An Eco-Friendly Driving Record
This year our driving record got a whole lot better. Around 7.2 million people are driving electric cars thanks to improvements in electric technology. And with cities like Los Angeles committing to phase out the sale of gas powered vehicles by 2035, looks like electric cars are cementing their place into the future of transportation!
Electronic Waste On The Decline
Though it may seem like we have more gadgets than ever, the share of electronic waste is actually declining in the U.S. According to a new study, since 2015 the U.S.’s share of electronic waste (think computers, cell phones, tvs) has been steadily declining. This waste is hard to recycle and repurpose, so reducing electronic waste is a great step to keeping the waste out of landfills!
Sustainable Businesses Getting Creative
Large companies like Microsoft, Ikea, Delta Airlines and many others stepped up this year to make commitments to achieving carbon neutrality. But newcomers to the corporate climate change fight are the only ones to celebrate. Climate activist veterans Patagonia have found a new way to reduce waste in their stores by offering the option to buy used. This year Patagonai has ventured into the land of second-hand by offering both new and used items.
U.S. Legislating Making Strides
It was a big year in U.S. climate legislation with a few notable bills passed and introduced in Congress. The Great American Outdoors Act was passed in August, a $10 billion plan to protect and maintain national parks, the biggest land conservation legislation since the 1950s.
At the end of 2020 the Trillion Trees and Natural Carbon Storage Act was introduced to the Senate with bipartisan support. The act seeks to invest in the planting of 1 trillion trees to aid in the natural carbon capture process from trees and forest.
With President-Elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, we expected to see more climate strides in 2021, as he has proposed boldest climate plan of any U.S. president.
An Inclusive Environmental Movement
2020 was a year of learning and reckoning with many forms of inequity. The environmental movement was no stranger to these learnings. In 2020, environmentalists around the world started a renewed focus for an inclusive environmental movement, one that seeks to highlight, address and elevate climate issues that face the most vulnerable populations, who are often Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. Environmental activist organizations from the Sierra Club, the NRDC and many others shared a renewed commitment to environmental activism and environmental justice and including voices of all affected peoples in the environmental movement.