It’s all too easy to be pessimistic about the health of the world’s ecosystem in 2021. More than a million species are on the verge of extinction, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere continue to rise, and the world has been shattered by a succession of climate-related catastrophic weather events. Meanwhile, the world is still dealing with a terrible virus that appears to have no end in sight.
However, as the year winds down, there are reasons to be cautiously optimistic about the areas where the environment triumphed in 2021.
It’s worth noting that even these optimistic advances may contain promises that are watered down, deceptive, or completely disappointed. There are signs of progress on this long and grueling journey despite this. Here are five grounds for optimism.
After being postponed for a year due to COVID-19, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November welcomed the world’s second-largest fossil-fuel emitter, the United States, back to the bargaining table after a four-year hiatus. By the end of the conference, the US and China had signed a surprising joint pledge to work together to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goals.
While the amount of ambition in Glasgow was criticized, particularly in safeguarding developing nations from climate consequences and assisting them in transitioning to clean energy systems, the objective of reducing global warming to 1.5°C is now arguably more realistic. Notably, governments committed to limiting their coal use rather than erasing it, and more than a hundred countries agreed to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent by 2030.
According to a new analysis, renewable energy use is anticipated to grow by 8% globally in 2021, the highest year-on-year growth since the 1970s, while it has nearly quadrupled in the United States.
A slew of new laws has been introduced in the previous year to combat rising plastic pollution. Governor Jay Inslee of Washington signed legislation banning polystyrene products like foam coolers and packing peanuts, requiring customers to request single-use utensils, straws, cup lids, and condiments, and requiring minimum post-consumer recycled content in a variety of plastic bottles and jugs, including those for personal care products and household cleaning.
Following the passage of the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act, which would, among other things, ban some single-use plastic products and halt permits for new plastics manufacturing plants, such efforts may be reflected federally.
The goal to halt deforestation by 2030 made at the United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow was by far the biggest news in forest conservation; it included a promise to invest $ 12 billion in forest conservation. The promise, however, was treated with significant skepticism, not least because, following a 2014 pact with the same purpose, deforestation rates increased.
The Indonesian province of West Papua’s government has withdrawn permits for 12 palm oil contracts encompassing more than 660,000 acres (an area twice the size of Los Angeles), with three-fifths of the land still forested. Environmental and indigenous rights organizations are pressing the government to go even further and acknowledge Native peoples’ rights to manage their woods in certain places.
As a result of protective efforts, populations of some of the world’s most iconic species are improving. In July, China stated that the giant panda, the World Wildlife Fund’s icon, was no longer considered endangered and that its status had been upgraded to vulnerable. Only about 1,800 pandas survive in the wild, a significant increase from the estimated 1,100 in 2000. Meanwhile, China has announced the establishment of the Giant Panda National Park, which will be part of a network of new parks covering an area nearly the size of the United Kingdom. Native species such as the Northeast China tiger, Siberian leopard, and Hainan black-crested gibbon. Let us know in the comments, what do you think should be done in 2022…