As the year comes to a close, we want to celebrate some big environmental wins of 2021. As time progresses, the actions we take and the decisions we make become more and more important. This year has shown us many things to celebrate and gives us many reasons to look forward with hope towards the future. Reflecting on all that has been accomplished will only inspire us to do more together in 2022 to protect our planet and its people.
Here are 8 wins for the world from 2021.
1. CA Governor Signed $15 billion Climate Package
In September, Governor Gavin Newsome of California, where Wolven is based, signed the California Comeback Plan, dedicating $15 billion to climate initiatives in California. The money will be donated to efforts such as wildfire and forest resilience, stabilizing water supplies, mitigating the impacts of flooding, and protecting against the harms of extreme heat. Funds will directly support both the environment and vulnerable communities in the state — an important step to address the social and environmental impacts of climate change.
2. Biden’s Build Back Better Plan
President Biden introduced the Build Back Better Plan to fortify the country’s social safety net, through supporting the middle and lower classes, making health care more affordable, and addressing climate change. The plan includes efforts to equitably transition away from fossil fuels, protect national forests, repeal drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and fund new parks in communities lacking green space. The plan is currently moving through Congress, and although it likely will not pass this year — we’ll need to continue working together to support these environmental and social efforts in 2022.
3. Cancelling the Keystone XL Pipeline
After starting the year off right and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, the Biden Administration also reversed many detrimental environmental policies — cancelling the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline was one of them (and a big one). This pipeline was designed to carry the dirtiest fossil fuel, tar sands oil, from Canada through the United States. The Memphis Oil Pipeline, which would’ve primarily run through black neighborhoods in Tennessee and Mississippi, was also terminated — marking two extremely exciting wins for renewable energy, indigenous land preservation, and environmental justice.
4. Electing Secretary Deb Haaland
The indigenous community gained additional representation with the March 2021 confirmation of Senator Deb Haaland, the first ever indigenous U.S. indigenous secretary. As a congress member, Secretary Haaland was focused on both combating climate change and supporting indigenous populations. Secretary Haaland is responsible for establishing the first ever Climate Task Force in the Department of the Interior which is committed to promoting climate solutions, economic security, and environmental justice.
5. Several Proposed Civilian Climate Corps Programs
Many of us might remember learning about the Civilian Conservation Corps in history class — the New Deal program proposed by President FDR to fight unemployment during the Great Depression by creating environmentally-oriented jobs. Well, a promising development this year has been the proposal by numerous lawmakers for a revival of the Civilian Conservation Corps, often called the Civilian Climate Corps. The program has been reintroduced to provide well-paying jobs and reliable education for underprivileged community members that protect, revive, and support a healthy environment throughout the United States. While the legislation is still a good distance from passing, its presence indicates a bright future of incorporating our environment into a sustainable and supportive economic future.
6. Passing the INVEST in America Act
This July, the House of Representatives passed a bill that, among many other things, provides funding to prevent plastic pollution from entering our oceans (an issue dear to our hearts). Instead of using outdated and flawed wastewater infrastructure, the INVEST Act allows millions of plastic pellets to be kept out of our oceans each year by replacing leaky and broken systems, trapping the pollution and preventing environmental damage. As this bill travels through Congress, we can use the bipartisan support in the House as a good indication that its success is soon to come.
7. Netherlands Court Orders Shell to Cut Emissions
Around mid-2021, a Dutch court ruled that oil giant Shell is responsible for the deterioration of the climate, with its emissions contributing to the progression of the climate crisis (that’s what corporate accountability is all about). Shell is one of the biggest climate polluters in the world — meaning this ruling will have positive implications for holding other big polluters accountable. The verdict means that Shell is forced to permanently decrease its emissions throughout its supply chain. By 2030, they must cut their 2019 emissions by almost half. Developments like these have the power to change the trajectory of the climate crisis for the better.
8. 1.5℃ Target Still Possible
In October, the COP26 global environmental convention was held in Glasgow, Scotland, hosting nearly 40,000 delegates, activists, NGOs, media parties, and other stakeholders to discuss solutions to combat global climate change. Some of the best news to come out of COP26 was that we are still within reach of mitigating against the worst impacts of climate change — although communities across the world have already begun to experience these effects. However, many environmentalists critiqued COP26, saying the conference lacked tangible efforts to promote real systemic change, equality, and action.
At Wolven, we are committed to doing our part to make changes to improve the quality of life for all beings on Earth. Which is why we are Climate Neutral Certified and remove 1 pound of plastic from the ocean for every order. Stay tuned for more initiatives this year to get involved in — including new SustainabilityLIVE interviews on our @wolven Instagram, blog posts, events, sustainable partnerships, actions you can take, and more. Together we move forward.
Sustainability Intern, Wolven