Earth Day 2022: Investing in Our Planet
Updated: May 10, 2022
By Sydney Kovach
We have 7 Years 91 Days 6 Hours and 50 minutes left before we exceed our carbon budget, given the amount of carbon the globe continues to emit to keep global warming below 1.5ºC. Passing 1.5ºC would have devastating global climate impacts. What do we do to prevent this from happening? Invest in our planet.
We must invest in bold solutions that significantly reduce the global greenhouse gas emissions as quickly as possible. If we fail to reverse the increasing rates of emissions, the clock will run out even faster than predicted.
Established in 2010 by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) works to support critical climate mitigation and adaptation projects in developing countries. In theory, the Green Climate Fund would be a useful resource to combat climate change, but it is severely underfunded at $9.52 billion pledged by developing countries, especially when compared to its goal of $100 billion per year.
But even the lofty goal of $100 billion will not be sufficient. Countries in the Global North are responsible for the vast majority of climate change, but countries in the Global South are facing the biggest consequences from it. Sharon Ikeazor, the Environment Minister for Nigeria, estimates that climate change mitigation efforts will cost the Global South upwards of $600 billion each year. Even more money would be needed to fund necessary climate adaptation efforts to protect the world’s most vulnerable regions.
The U.S. is specifically under fire from activists for having failed to pay their fair share of climate finance. While President Biden vowed at the UN General Assembly to double U.S. contributions to climate finance, the latest analysis indicates that rich countries will continue to miss the GCF’s $100B/yr pledge for at least another 4 years.
“Africa, like other developing regions who suffer disproportionate climate impacts from CO2 historically released by industrialized nations, deserves a lifeline,” said Jerome Ringo, Climate Clock Global Ambassador. “Africa needs countries like the U.S. — that are the greatest contributors to the problem — to also contribute the most to helping solve it. The United States is only 5% of the world’s population but is responsible for 25% of the world’s carbon emissions. We must contribute our fair share to the Green Climate Fund.”
How can the U.S. better respond to the climate crisis?
First and foremost, legislators need to allocate a much higher percentage of our GDP towards programs that address climate change. Because the U.S. Congress has the power of the purse, we need our leaders in both chambers to prioritize funding solutions with the urgency they deserve.
Individuals also need to be more conscious of how their daily habits affect global warming. Some quick things we can do on our own is calculate our carbon footprint, eat sustainable options, and use public transit. That said, individual actions can only go so far. Only a wide-reaching coalition making significant steps towards sustainability can prevent floods in South Africa from becoming increasingly severe or the deserts in Mexico from becoming more and more dry only.
Because lawmakers are failing to act and individuals don’t have the power to make a significant impact, corporations must also step up and implement sweeping changes. For example, the top 15 food and beverage companies in the U.S. generate nearly 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses annually. Think of the impact cutting these emissions by 50% could have on our climate.
Many large corporations have greenhouse gas reduction goals, but most of these are often long term and do not consider the emissions associated with the entire life cycle of a product. Failing to account for emissions means that the vast majority of greenhouse gasses associated with corporations are not included in well-publicized corporate climate commitments.
Needless to say, corporations have unprecedented amounts of power and influence. They can influence policy change, shape individual consumers' preferences, and quickly adapt to the needs of climate change. It’s time corporations step up and invest in the future of our planets.
With the state of our climate in peril, it is critical that we as individuals make active decisions to reduce our carbon footprints. But what’s more important is massive, influential corporations taking the initiative to make all aspects of their supply chain more sustainable. We must all work together to protect the fragile environment we live in.