2022 was a year of highs and lows in the world of sustainability, but we are going to keep track of some of the wins and positive stories from this year.
- Pioneering commitments made by the US at COP27
The 27th climate conference has introduced a set of new initiatives. These initiatives will fight climate change and give aid to those most vulnerable to its impacts. The US has pledged over $150 million to support Africa’s adaptation and resilience. Moreover, solutions to bridge the climate finance gap focus on green bonds to further support developing nations. They are also making changes on their own soil, with proposals to strengthen emissions regulations and require alignment with the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, they are launching a Climate Gender Equity Fund and other similar initiatives to ensure that society as a whole is engaged in fighting climate change.
- Renewables are set to produce more energy than coal and nuclear FY2022
The US’ renewable energy sector, according to the EIA, will have contributed over ⅕ of all energy for 2022. This is a major breakthrough for wind, hydropower and solar.
- A UN Plastics Treaty is in the works
In March, 175 countries, including the US, agreed to begin working on a global treaty to address the global plastic crisis. If it is ratified, provisions to remediate plastic use and pollution would become legally binding. However, there are underlying differences in each country’s expectations for the treaty, so negotiations will be interesting to watch going forward.
- Nuclear fusion was made a reality
After 70 years of trial and error, California physicists have produced a fusion reaction that netted energy. Although this technology is nowhere near ready for widespread adoption, it leaps in the right direction. A direction where fossil fuels are gone for good. Though experts estimate that the technology is still decades away from widespread adoption, this achievement could displace traditional energy sources like fossil fuels for good and produce potentially endless zero-carbon energy with less radioactive waste.
- The environmental justice movement presses on
2022 held several wins for the environmental justice movement. On a national scale, the Department of Justice created a new specialized Office of Environmental Justice, aiming to protect overburdened and underserved communities from the harm caused by environmental crimes, pollutions and climate change. On a more local scale, communities from California to Louisiana headed off the implementation of toxic polluting facilities near their homes. Moreover, this new Office of Environmental Justice means enhanced enforcement of laws that protect those most vulnerable.
- $369 billion dedicated to fight climate change through the IRA
This is the largest environmental investment the US has ever seen. It has made meeting reduction targets a reality. Over 80% of the country’s electricity could come from renewable sources by 2030.
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