Earth Day 2021: Our Review!
Did you wake up to a barrage of emails yesterday? Some emails promised action, some gave advice, and some just wished us a “Happy Earth Day.” In the flood of brands and organisations trying to highlight Earth Day, it’s hard to see who is actually committing to taking action and fighting climate change. Let’s take a review of a few key pledges made!
2021 Earth Day kicked off with a bang! At a 40-country virtual climate summit, President Biden announced that the U.S. is pledging to drop fossil fuel emissions 52% by 2030. For the U.S., this ambitious commitment has been unprecedented and as they divest from fossil fuels, would change how the entire American energy infrastructure and economy currently functions.
The U.S. wasn’t alone either. Japan and South Korea made pledges to cut their emissions and not fund foreign coal plants respectively. Russia and China also reaffirmed cutting emissions by 2050- a bump from China's previous commitment to cut emissions by 2060 while Russia did not commit to a new or revised pledge.
These announcements aren’t limited to countries either. Corporations and organisations have also announced their own emissions pledges, such as KitKat announcing their plan to become carbon neutral by 2025 through a mix of carbon sequestration, carbon offsetting, and new regenerative agricultural practices.
While it’s only natural to get excited about these commitments, greenwashing is certainly something to look out for. All sorts of corporations (including gas and oil companies) have pledged planet-friendly actions with media-friendly press releases while continuing to damage the planet in the name of profit... Here are some points to keep in mind as you see climate commitments pop up:
Look for specific numbers
When companies, organisations, and/or countries make pledges, check to see what they are specifying. An announcement of carbon-neutral goals is nothing but good PR without actual numbers behind it and a measurable action plan.
Check for follow up
We need to hold governments and companies accountable for following through with their public plans. A report by the FEU-US and Acting on Climate Together found that 75% of countries that signed the Paris Agreement, including the world’s largest polluters, are already struggling to meet the terms and have yet to take the action necessary that would decrease rather than increase their yearly emissions.
Offsets aren’t everything
We’ve written about how companies occasionally use offsets as an alternative to actually decreasing their own emissions. Offsets can be a valuable tool in the toolkit for reducing emissions in sectors that are hard to decarbonize, but most companies face either a supply-chain issue or a reliance on fossil fuels that need to be eliminated completely rather than compensated for with offsets.
It is estimated that failure to reduce emissions by 2030 will cost the world $2 billion per day in economic losses from changing weather patterns. Earth Day must be more than a branding opportunity, but a day for people and organisations to take collective action to reverse climate change. We can do this, but we need to do this together!
Earth Day 2021? We give it an 8/10!
Feeling inspired? Looking for a place to help you understand and reduce lifestyle-based emissions? Join us in taking part in the #CaptureChallenge for the month of April on Instagram and shrink your carbon footprint by 7.6% by tracking your diet and transportation choices.