Today, 175 countries around the world join Enviance in celebrating the 42nd annual Earth Day, a holiday that has helped garner support for pieces of environmental legislation like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.
We wanted to take a look back at progress made since Earth Day 2011, and provide our thoughts on the coming year.
We’ve seen some unexpected shifts in supporters, and opponents, of clean energy: In August the U.S. military, perhaps the most conservative organization in the country, set aggressive goals to become 25 percent renewable by 2025.
On the flipside, we saw environmental groups including the Sierra Club and National Resource Defense Council file a lawsuit to stall a renewable energy project, pitting allies against one another.
What about emissions and carbon reduction?
A report showed that the 10 Northeast states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) reduced carbon emissions in 2011 to their lowest level since 2009, and at a whopping 34 percent less than the RGGI cap.
What’s best is that, according to the report, this was achieved “without significant investment in new electric generation.” Encouraging news for our friends in the power industry.
Also, just last month the EPA proposed its first carbon emission standards for new power plants, which would replace a number of planned coal plants for cleaner-burning natural gas and renewables.
What will the rest of 2012 bring?
California, the eighth largest economy in the world, will hold its first carbon permit auction on November 14. It has the potential to generate more than $1 billion in 2012 alone and, if successful, could provide the template for national cap and trade legislation.
Speaking of national legislation, what will the impact of our next President be? President Obama has already made significant environmental progress, and if elected a second term, his motivation will shift from re-election to legacy, and environmental progress will increase even further.
That said, if Mitt Romney is elected, we would have a President who acknowledges the need to reduce carbon emissions, but is also extremely pro-business – would he be able to implement national cap and trade legislation?
What do you think the biggest environmental advances have been over the last year? Let us know in the comment section below!