14 Climate Victories to Celebrate
Apr 1, 2021
As we celebrate Earth Day this April, it’s also a great time to celebrate some exciting environmental successes. Here are some recent victories worth celebrating this Earth Day:
1. More than 100 million Americans now live in places committed to 100% clean energy
More than 170 cities, 14 counties, and 8 states in the U.S. have commited to transition to 100% renewable energy. This means that 100 million Americans now live in communities that are committed to clean, renewable energy. That’s nearly one in three Americans—and will have the same impact as taking 66 million cars off the road! In addition to these 100 million Americans, on a global scale, more than one billion people now live in a city with a renewable energy target.
2. The largest solar project in U.S. history was announced
In November, Invenergy announced plans to construct a 1,310-megawatt solar farm in Texas that will provide renewable energy to companies such as AT&T and Google. The project will be the largest solar project in U.S. history and will support more than 600 jobs throughout its 3-year construction period.
3. The first major offshore wind farm in the U.S. is on track to be online by 2023
Vineyard Wind, an offshore wind project located 15 miles off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, is slated to become the first large-scale offshore wind farm in the U.S. The 800 MW wind project will have enough capacity to provide clean electricity to more than 400,000 Massachusetts homes—which will have the same impact as taking 325,000 cars off the road each year. The project will also create thousands of jobs and reduce electricity costs by $1.4 billion over its first 20 years of operation. Vineyard Wind is expected to begin delivering clean, renewable energy to Massachusetts in 2023.
4. Several car companies announced major electric vehicle goals
A number of car manufacturers have announced plans to significantly increase their production of electric cars, while also phasing out the production and sales of their gas-powered cars. Nearly every major car manufacturer in the U.S. has now announced some sort of plan for increased investment in electric vehicles (EVs). Notable announcements include GM’s plan to invest $27 billion in EVs by 2025 and eliminate diesel and gas powertrains from its light-duty truck lineup by 2035, Jaguar’s goal to be fully electric by 2025, and Volvo’s goal to put 1 million hybrid or electric vehicles on the road by the end of 2025. Check out a list of every car company’s EV plans here.
5. Several utility companies will collaborate on an interstate EV charging network
Six major U.S. electricity utilities will work together to build a massive EV charging network across 16 states, from Texas to Indiana to Virginia to Florida. The Electric Highway Coalition—made up of American Electric Power, Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Entergy, Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority—aims to reduce consumer concerns about EV battery range by building charging stations along major highways and interstates throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
6. Electric car sales are projected to boom
EV sales are expected to double in 2021 from 2% of the auto market to 4%, and by 2030, there will be more than 18 million EVs on the road in the U.S. Additionally, U.S. drivers are reporting increased interest in electric cars, with the majority of car owners now saying they will probably or definitely own an EV in the next decade. Transportation is the country's largest source of greenhouse gas pollution, and electrifying the sector presents a major opportunity to reduce these emissions.
7. U.S. rejoined the Paris Agreement
The U.S. officially rejoined the Paris Agreement on climate change, following an executive order signed by President Biden on his first day in office. The Paris Agreement is an international UN treaty on climate change signed by nearly every nation on Earth that aims to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Under the agreement, the U.S. promised to reduce emissions by about 25% by 2025 (compared with 2005 levels); currently, the U.S. is on track to achieve about a 17% reduction.
8. The first Native American Cabinet member was confirmed as Interior Secretary
On March 15, Deb Haaland became the first Native American Cabinet member in U.S. history when she was confirmed as the next Secretary of the Interior. Haaland, a 35th-generation New Mexican and a member of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo, will play a key role in the administration’s efforts to combat climate change. As Interior Secretary, she will oversee the protection of federal lands (which comprise roughly one-fifth of the land in the U.S.), the protection of the country’s endangered species and natural resources, and relations between the U.S. government and Native American tribes. Haaland’s nomination and confirmation were widely celebrated by environmentalists and Native Americans across the country as a victory for the environment and tribes’ rights.
9. The latest COVID-19 relief bill includes environmental justice provisions
As part of the American Rescue Plan, the $1.9 trillion economic stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Biden, more than $30 billion will go towards issues related to environmental justice. $30.5 billion will go towards public transit agencies, which can play a key role in reducing transportation emissions and air pollution in cities. Additionally, the EPA will receive $100 million to address air pollution and environmental health risks in marginalized communities, including $50 million in environmental justice grants that will address environmental and public health risks in minority and low-income communities. These investments will help address harmful air quality and other environmental health risks in the communities hardest hit by both COVID-19 and air pollution, as communities with higher air pollution have experienced higher rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths.
10. Majority of Americans have had an “eco wake-up call” during the pandemic
A survey conducted this spring found that 64% of Americans have had an "eco wake-up call" during the pandemic, inspiring them to adopt more eco-friendly habits such as recycling more and reducing their food waste. 79% of survey respondents have thought more about the connectedness between people and the planet as a result of the pandemic, and 81% of respondents plan to keep their new eco-friendly habits beyond the pandemic.
11. Europe’s biggest utility announced major investments in wind and solar
Italian utility company Enel SpA, the largest utility company in Europe, announced plans to spend the equivalent of $83 billion to expand its presence in wind and solar power in the coming decade, increasing its renewable energy capacity from 45 gigawatts (GW) to 120 GW. Enel seeks to become the world’s largest renewable energy producer outside of China.
12. U.K. pledged to get 100% of residential power from wind turbines
In October, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced plans to power every home in the U.K. with offshore wind energy, declaring that the U.K. will “become the world leader in low-cost clean power generation.”
13. Renewables not only survived, but thrived in 2020
Despite the pandemic and economic downturn, the U.S. renewable energy industry was still able to survive 2020 and even set new records. The U.S. added a record amount of wind and solar energy last year, installing 61% more wind and solar power in 2020 than in 2019. The 33.6 GW of wind and solar added in 2020 provide enough capacity to power roughly 11 million homes for one year. Both the solar and wind industries experienced their largest quarters ever in Q4 2020—in fact, the U.S. wind industry installed more new wind power capacity in Q4 than in any previous full year (except 2012).
14. U.S. solar is projected to quadruple by 2030
Solar installations in the U.S. are on track to quadruple by 2030, according to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Over the next decade, the solar industry is expected to install 324 GW of capacity—more than three times the roughly 100 GW installed before 2020. The additional 324 GW of capacity can produce enough electricity to power about 60 million homes—approximately 40% of homes in the U.S.
Looking for ways you can take action today to play a role in future climate victories? Sign up for 100% clean, renewable energy today!
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