• August 12th, 2022
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Time to Count Our Blessings


Javier Sierra

 

As the saying goes, “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush.” In this 2021, we ended up with a lot of birds in hand, but many more are still in the bush. Let’s count our blessings:

 

After the four most disastrous environmental years in US history, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, declaring the climate crisis as “the number one issue facing humanity.” The US went from a climate pariah to a world leader in this fight.

 

The President also halted the construction of the medieval border wall, and his administration canceled all border wall projects paid for with funds usurped from the Defense Department.

 

After 13 years of a fight led by the environmental movement and countless Tribes against this zombie boondoggle of a project, TC Energy finally abandoned the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, also known as “a climate ticking bomb.”

 

The Beyond Coal Campaign and its countless partners and allies have managed to close more than 350 coal plants, until recently, the country’s largest source of climate pollution.

 

Even though it failed to achieve its main goal of limiting global warming to 1.5o C, the COP26 climate summit did achieve the almost universal rejection of coal energy, drastic reductions of the use of fracked gas, and the end of deforestation by 2030, among other agreements.

 

The Biden administration committed the Federal Government to slash its emission by driving demand for clean manufacturing, electric vehicles, clean buildings and 100% clean electricity.

 

President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which includes billions in funding for public transit, passenger rail, electric vehicle charging stations and electric buses.

 

And California established the “Outdoors for All” program, a big step toward finally opening the doors to Latino families to enjoy the enormous benefits of being in contact with nature.

 

There were many more victories, but the task at hand remains herculean. Extreme climate disasters keep worsening, wreaking havoc across the globe. While unprecedented heat waves killed hundreds in Western US and Canada, California suffered the worst wildfire in its history. The Iberian Peninsula suffered the worst winter storm in a century. A similar one in Texas caused the collapse of the electric grid killing more than 700 people. In August, it rained for the first time ever at Greenland’s highest point.

 

After the four most disastrous environmental years in US history, President Biden rejoined the Paris Agreement, declaring the climate crisis as “the number one issue facing humanity.” The US went from a climate pariah to a world leader in this fight.

 

The burning of fossil fuels has warmed the atmosphere up to a point where both poles have been destabilized. In the Antarctic, warmer sea water is undermining fundamental ice shelves, including the Thwaites Glacier, which threatens to collapse in a few years unleashing a dramatic sea level rise. Each year, dirty energy pollution kills up to 10 million people around the world.

 

The solutions are already here. In one decade, the cost of battery storage has shrunk by almost 90 percent. By 2026, the global capacity of renewable energy will match the current capacity of all fossil fuels and nuclear combined. 43 percent of the fossil fuel industry’s labor force are looking for another job, and of those, 56 percent wish to work in the clean energy industry.

 

The year is ending without the approval of the most important climate legislation in US history, the Build Back Better Act. In 2022, we must redouble our efforts and seize this historic opportunity, because we cannot afford to have any more birds in the bush.

 

 

Javier Sierra writes the monthly bilingual column Sierra & Tierra.

 

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