Climate change, which has always been in the background at the time of international summits, has finally gained attention this year.
2021 has been eventful in terms of climate action on many levels. On the one hand, we have seen the predictions of climatologists of the last century manifested in the form of extreme global events like forest fires, heat waves and floods. And on the other, we have seen world leaders work to curb the undeniable effects of climate change.
While most of the measures taken have been strongly criticized for being flawed, we have to admit that we have taken a start in the right direction. We may still have a long way to go before we can save our planet, but 2021 has paved the way for a more productive 2022.
As the year now draws to a close, The Weather Channel India has compiled hopeful climate actions and positive environmental highlights from 2021. Here they are:
India and many other countries commit to Net-Zero
Billed as the salvation of climate change, net-zero was a concept created to ensure that our carbon emissions and our carbon uptake balance each other out. The plan was to remove excess carbon from our atmosphere by 2050.
Of course, many countries have stumbled to commit to this long-term plan, promising to achieve net zero by the middle of this century.
These include the UK, US and other high-income countries, followed by China, Russia and Saudi Arabia, which have pledged to achieve a net zero goal of here 2060. India, for its part, has fallen a few decades behind, committing to 2070 instead.
With a population of 1.38 billion, India is the world’s fourth-largest carbon emitter, behind China, the United States and the EU. But its per capita CO2 emissions are quite low, at 1.9 tonnes per person in 2019, compared to 5.5 tonnes in the UK and 16 tonnes in the US. And so, for India to engage in the first place was somewhat unexpected.
With India’s wish of 2070, all major emitters set a net zero target, imposing a time limit on which the world will stop burning fossil fuels.
United States joins the Paris Agreement; Commits to increasing funding
The Paris Agreement was a historic milestone that in many ways is responsible for sustaining the 1.5 ° C rise above pre-industrial levels in 2021. And while around 200 countries had signed the agreement and tried to stick to it, one of the world’s largest contributors to climate change, the United States, pulled out in 2020 during Donald Trump’s presidency.
And with our grip on 1.5 ° C tenuous at best, it was imperative that all countries participate in efforts to curb global warming.
Fortunately, when President Biden took office earlier in 2021, he made the return to the Paris climate agreement a major goal, and the United States is once again part of the agreement.
Since then, the United States has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 50 to 52 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Increased investments in natural climate solutions, which can reach at least one-third of reductions emissions needed to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5 ° C is an important part of Biden’s climate strategy. His administration also prioritizes climate change in its foreign policy, including it in the most critical discussions.
Progressive reduction commitments for coal and methane emissions
The removal of coal from the electricity sector is the most important step in getting closer to 1.5 ° C. However, while much of the world still relies heavily on coal as its primary source of electricity, complete phasing out seems difficult.
But on November 13, 2021, after frantic last-minute talks, 40 countries at the 26th annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) finally reached an agreement to phase out coal and stop building or building. invest in it.
Moving away from coal is crucial to reducing emissions that contribute to global warming, as the digging and emission of coal is the most important source of global warming.
The five countries that have pledged to phase out coal are Poland, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Ukraine. They agreed to stop building new coal-fired power plants and phase out fuel use by 2030.
India has also pledged to phase out coal instead of phase-out, as nearly 70% of its electricity needs are met by coal.
COP26 tries to keep the 1.5 degree target alive
“We can say with credibility that we have kept 1.5 ° C within reach, but his pulse is weak. It will only survive if we keep our promises, if we translate our commitments into swift action and if we meet the expectations set out in this Glasgow Climate Pact to increase ambition until 2030 and beyond, ”said the President from COP26, Alok Sharma.
To say that COP26 was a complete success would be an exaggeration, but the summit achieved several things that kept 1.5 ° C.
More than 100 leaders have pledged to eliminate deforestation by 2030. 100 countries have established a new strategy to reduce methane emissions by 30%. Methane is increasingly recognized as one of the most harmful greenhouse gases was another positive step.
The COP26 agreement means that the next 18 months will indeed be decisive. Large emitting countries with weak emission reduction plans must come back in a year to improve them – to keep the 1.5 ° C alive.
Mega marine protected area created in the Pacific Ocean
Although this was missed in the coverage of COP26, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica created a giant marine protected area (MPA) in November. The Mega-MPA will connect the marine territories of the above regions into a large protected area in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, protecting critical migration routes for turtles, whales and sharks.
This project will encompass much of the Pacific coast of Central America and extend westward to include a wide swath of water surrounding Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands. The Eastern Tropical Pacific Marine Corridor (CMAR) covers approximately 500,000 square kilometers and is an extension of existing national MPAs.
This is an unprecedented step, as never before have countries with linked maritime borders worked together to develop public policy. In fact, Latin American countries aim to transform at least a third of the world’s oceans into protected habitats by 2030.
Several species are making a comeback on the brink of extinction
2021 has been a year of a strong comeback in biodiversity loss, as many species on the brink of extinction have seen their populations recover. Among them were humpback whales, red kites and eastern bandicoots.
Humpback whales defied all odds that threatened their existence, such as cumulative plastic pollution increase and acidification issues affecting the oceans, and rebounded to around 93% of their original population before the hunt. to the modern whale in 1830. It is estimated that the entire population will recover by 2030.
The Eastern Bandicoot population has also experienced a fantastic recovery, with its population increasing to 1,500 from 150, thanks to 30 years of conservation action.
The population of red kites in southern England had fallen to just 37 breeding pairs by the mid-1990s. But today there are as many as 2000 breeding pairs of this rare bird species.
Another species that fell off the endangered list was the beloved giant panda. Through years of dedicated conservation, China’s pandas now number approximately 1,800.
24 new species described in 2021
While many species have been saved from extinction, several species ranging from the massive Papua New Guinea spiders named after activist Greta Thunberg to a tiny chameleon in Madagascar have also been discovered this year.
For example, the Australian bleating tree frog – initially considered a single species – turned out to be three distinct species!
Virendar Bhardwaj discovered the Churah Valley kukri snake in the Churah Valley in the Western Himalayas, with the possibility of other undescribed species in the region. During this time, the Nujian viper was found in China.
Another gem, the starred octopus, has been found in Australia.
Many other varieties of insects, beetles, ants and reptiles have also been discovered.
It’s always hard to focus on the positive when so much is wrong around us. But looking on the bright side can not only be a source of hope, but also encourage us to keep trying and doing better. And that is exactly what 2021 has been, a year full of hope for a better future.
Now, with 2022 on the horizon, it will be interesting to see how the world unites again to make further progress in tackling climate change.
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