Progress Check: 3 Ways We've Improved Since Last Earth Day
Welcome back to Greenwashed! 👋
Last week marked one (or potentially two, for some of our readers 😉) of the most important holidays of the year in the sustainability sector. Like clockwork, social media feeds began to fill with annual Earth Day proclamations of love for our planet from people and companies alike.
Beautiful nature pictures are great, but the point of Earth Day isn't to bask in its glory--it's to draw attention to the fact that we're ruining it and inspire decision-makers to act.
In this edition, we ask a simple question: Is it working? From last year's Earth Day, what actual progress have we made? ⬇️
Show Me The Money 🤑
Climate financing has always been a tricky subject. Developing countries want to, well, develop, and need cheap resources (namely coal and oil) to do so. This is a major thorn in the decarbonization movement.
Efforts to stop the adoption of fossil fuels into developing economies is always met with sharp resistance, and it's easy to see why. Rich countries got rich by industrializing with fossil fuels; asking poorer countries to stay impoverished to help fix a situation they didn't create is...not going to fly, to say the least.
Developing countries don't want to pollute, they just can't afford to spend their valuable capital on more expensive forms of energy. The way around this is simple: rich countries could subsidize sustainable development, cutting off economic dependence on fossil fuels before it starts.
In 2022, years after developing countries started asking for this type of deal, wealthy countries finally started opening the checkbooks. The US, EU, and Japan gave $20 billion to Indonesia & $15.5 billion to Vietnam, and there was good progress made on a similar G7 deal with India.
Super Shrooms 🍄
On the research side of the climate fight, Australian scientists have discovered two types of fungi that completely dissolve plastic in just 140 days. The best part? It's scalable.
Plastic waste is a massive problem. Despite one of the largest propaganda campaigns in history telling people otherwise, pretty much all forms of plastic are not recyclable. Every single piece of plastic every produced makes its way into our soil, water systems, or even newborn babies.
This discovery may change that, and scaling the solution is entirely possible. The fungi, which dissolve a type of plastic called polypropylene, are found commonly in plants and soil, so there's no supply issue.
Even better, Professor Ali Abbas, who oversaw the discovery, is "very confident" that the technology can scale to process industrial quantities of plastic waste. The scaling process is similar to fermentation, which we already have industrial-level infrastructure and know-how for thanks to the alcohol industry, among others.
A Supremely Good Decision ⚖️
On the legal side of the climate fight, the US Supreme Court recently delivered a major victory.
Longtime readers will remember our coverage of studies that proved beyond a doubt that oil companies knew the climate damage they were going to cause dating as far back as the 1970s--and went on to do it anyway.
Now, they're getting sued for it. In an attempt to gain a more favorable jurisdiction, oil companies probed the Supreme Court to move these lawsuits from state court to federal court--an ask that was promptly rejected.
By hearing the suits in state courts, the scope of Big Oil's defense strategy increases exponentially.
Bribing, sorry, "lobbying" a few people in DC is one thing, but needing to exert influence over courts and juries across the country is a whole different animal for a defense team.
Every dollar that oil companies need to spend on defending these lawsuits, not to mention all of the money that may go to plaintiffs seeking reparations, is a dollar they can't spend on propaganda campaigns, lobbying, or expanding.
Thanks for reading! If you've been inspired to help out in the fight against the climate crisis, start by offsetting your emissions here or by subscribing below to stay up-to-date on all of the need-to-know climate problems and solutions.