Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day 2016 is the Most Hopeful Ever

This is an Earth Day unlike any that have preceded it. After almost five decades of grass roots activism, the festivities in 2016 finally have something to celebrate. This year we are driving a stake into the heart of climate pessimism. We are challenging those that doubt our resolve and we are breathing hope into a new climate narrative. 

We are seeing tremendous momentum in renewable energy and corporate sustainability. There is clear evidence that the fossil fuel industry is in decline. The Paris Climate Agreement offers the strongest reason yet to be optimistic this Earth Day. For the first time in history the human race has come together to collectively resolve to take on the greatest threat modern humans have ever known.

Last year was the most important year ever for climate action and 2016 promises to be even better. Although 2015 will be remembered as the year the world woke up and began to address the problem of climate change, the good news is mixed with bad. There were a number of very serious climate and environmental disasters in 2015. For a review of the best and the worst climate stories of 2015 click here.

In 2016 there was more bad news contributing to the urgency of climate action. We have witnessed the death of vast swaths of the Great Barrier Reef drawing attention to the death of coral in oceans all around the world.

We have also seen research suggesting that heat and sea level rise are not the only serious threats to human civilization. In addition to air pollution, we may actually see decreases of atmospheric oxygen attributable to climate change.

Despite these terrifying threats, there are good reasons to be hopeful. Led by US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis, we are seeing climate leadership from some of the most powerful people on the planet.

In Canada a new Liberal government released its budget that has delivered on its green promises. Canada has also partnered with the US on climate action and Arctic protections.

A clear trend is emerging as the economics of climate action are becoming clear. The COP21 climate deal will inevitably result in major policy and regulatory changes. However, it is now up to the business community to realize the ambitious goals set in Paris. The business of sustainability has reached a turning point. There are a number of reasons why corporations are embracing sustainability as never before. In 2016 we are also seeing that green finance has gone mainstream

The best news from 2015 was the successful outcome of COP21. It delivered the Paris Climate Agreement that is being formally signed today at a UN ceremony in New York. Around 150 nations including the world's top two emitters, China and the US will be present to formally sign the deal. 

The agreement is a turning point that has augured a number of optimistic predictions. Perhaps most importantly the agreement augurs a radical shift in energy production which is critical step in addressing the climate crisis. Last year was a transformational year for energy and in 2016 it looks as though it will continue in earnest.

The COP21 deal specifically signals the end of fossil fuels and the dawn of unprecedented growth for renewable energy.  The fossil fuel industry has been exposed. We are already seeing that investments in renewables are eclipsing fossil fuels and we are also seeing how we can address climate change by riding fossil fuels into the ground.

We have reason to be hopeful about renewable energy. We have seen the prodigious growth of renewables in 2015 and there are even higher expectations going forward is 

It is heartening to see that a new understanding is permeating the powerful pressure exerted by market forces supporting the transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources of energy.  We are also seeing ancillary trends that like a new wave of more affordable electric vehicles.

Although the real work is just beginning, the world is coming to the realization the green economy is the right solution for our troubled times.

Related
President Obama's Earth Day Address: Action on Climate Change Cannot Wait (Video)
Earth Day 2015: The Marriage of Economic Growth and Sustainability
The Crucial Significance of Earth Day and Grassroots Environmentalism
Infographic - Saving Energy to Make Everyday Earth Day
The Business of Earth Day Greenwashing
The Historical Roots of Earth Day and its Relevance Today
Earth Day Marketing Mayhem
The Commercialization of Earth Day
Silencing Earth Day Critics
The Business of Earth Day
Earth Day Special: Green Blueprint 

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