Ask Eartha: Environmental Success Stories from 2020
I feel like nothing has gone well in 2020. What environmental success stories can I think of to brighten my mood as the New Year approaches?
There is no denying that 2020 has been a difficult year. However, while the news was often inundated with angsty headlines, there is still a lot to celebrate. In the area of climate change and environmental action, there have been many encouraging headlines that we might have missed, but which we can now reflect on to help us improve our mood as we approach 2021.
While most of us couldn’t decide whether we should wear pajama pants or leggings all day, nations around the world made new climate commitments to cut carbon emissions. China, the largest contributor to greenhouse gas pollution with 28% of global emissions, has pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. And yes, making a pledge may not be. not as convincing as explaining how they are going to achieve it (for example, how they are going to tackle the enormous task of throwing coal to the curb), but the country is moving the needle in the right direction. And they write a 2021-2025 plan, which will outline the first steps necessary to achieve this ambitious goal.
Meanwhile, the use of electric vehicles is increasing. Thanks to technological improvements, falling prices and government subsidies, electric vehicles are increasingly accessible – so much so that the UK announced it will end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, leading to better air quality and economic growth. As other countries and manufacturers pursue vehicle electrification plans, we will begin to see these benefits around the world.
Closer to home
Despite many environmental reductions under our current administration, Congress has passed important legislation that should excite all outdoor enthusiasts. the Great American Outdoors Act allocates nearly $ 10 billion to protect America’s grossly underfunded national parks. The law, primarily focused on long overdue maintenance at more than 400 national parks, monuments, recreation areas and historic sites, will also fund repair projects on land managed by the US Forest Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service. , the Bureau of Land Management. and the Bureau of Indian Education.
Want to hear something really electrifying? Unable to compete with cheaper electricity, Coal-fired power plants across the country retire and convert to natural gas or being replaced by renewable energies. In fact, between January and June of last year, the United States consumed 30% less coal than during the same period in 2019. This means cleaner air, especially for those who live nearby. of these highly polluting factories.
In September, Colorado released a public draft of its Roadmap for reducing greenhouse gas pollution. The project outlines the measures the state should take to achieve the targets of reducing carbon pollution by 26% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels. The roadmap aims not only to tackle climate change, but also to do so in a way that diversifies and strengthens the economy, creates well-paying local jobs and improves the well-being of communities.
While 2020 certainly hasn’t been a joyous ride, it has provided plenty of time for reflection. And it’s worth mentioning that many Summit County residents have used 2020 to take action to meet their sustainability goals. Here are some of the accomplishments of your neighbors in the county:
- 184 owners received a energy assessment of the house to understand how their home uses energy. Of these, 76 have completed a home energy upgrade to improve indoor comfort and reduce energy use, saving an average of $ 524 per year on energy bills.
- 44 residents installed solar panels on the roofs Solarize Summit program, powering their homes with clean, renewable electricity.
- 630 people started composting of food scraps to help keep food waste out of our landfills.
- 29 companies reached Resource Wise to reduce energy consumption, carbon emissions and waste.
While it is easy to examine these local achievements and reflect on their wider impact, it is important to remember that every action we take as individuals enables us to move forward towards our larger goals, such as those of the Summit Community Climate Action Plan.
So even in the middle of a year when our lives seemed to come to a standstill, people around the world kept stepping forward and taking action to create a better future. If we can accomplish all of this during COVID-19, imagine what we can do once this pandemic is in the rearview mirror!
Ask Eartha Steward is written by staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit your questions to Eartha at [email protected].