I'll admit it - recently watching "Don't Look Up" felt like an eerie reflection of the pandemic and climate change that made my stomach turn a bit. So instead of me doing a review on that more depressing film, here are some of my favorite wins for the environment in 2021, from everything like Indigenous peoples taking back their land to animals making a comeback!
1. Pandas are now off the endangered list after their population increased by 17% in a decade, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
2. The United States rejoined the Paris Climate Accord, creating a higher priority of restoring regulations and new goals that curb emissions.
3. The Biden Administration signed three proclamations restoring protection for Bears Ears, Grand Staircase-Escalante, and Seamounts National Monuments — national monuments that are sacred to Tribal Nations.
4. 41 countries have passed laws to limit or ban cosmetics animal testing — which can subject animals to stress and pain.
As more countries plan to prevent this pain and suffering, more animals will be able to live happier and healthier lives!
5. Keystone XL oil pipeline was canceled in Canada, led by Indigenous communities and alliances.
Furthermore, according to EcoWatch, Indigenous-led resistance to 21 fossil fuel projects in the United States and Canada has prevented or delayed the equivalent of one-quarter of those countries’ climate-warming pollution.
6. In May, a Dutch court ordered Shell to cut its emissions by 45% from 2019 levels by 2030. In August, the company agreed to pay $111 million to the Ejama-Ebubu community in Nigeria for an oil spill that occurred in the 1970s.
Not only are we seeing wins in cases of cutting emissions, but we’re also seeing wins in Indigenous and impacted communities of climate disasters!
7. Michelle Wu became the first person of color and the first woman elected as mayor of Boston, but also has the opportunity to become the first climate mayor, with plans to electrify school buses, incentivize building retrofits, and introduce a transformative transit policy!
8. More than 20 countries committed to stopping public financing for fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2022 and focusing on spending on clean energy instead at COP26.
9. 9 organizations have joined together and pledged $5 billion over the next 10 years to support the expansion and monitoring of protected and conserved areas of land, inland, and water — making this the largest private funding commitment ever to biodiversity commitment.
10. There are more positive trends in the animal communities worldwide — Nepal is on track to double its wild tiger population in 2022, gorilla populations are bouncing back in sub-Sarahan Africa, and jaguars are returning to forests in Colombia.
Although climate change and injustice continue to loom over society, it’s clear that diverse communities and organizations around the world are working to make up for aspects of humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. In 2022, let’s work together and take steps in our own lives to improve the state of the environment!