The Major Environmental Stories to Follow in 2022
The earth, its habitats and its people are in trouble. Temperatures and oceans are rising, biodiversity is circling the drain and plastic is choking our most treasured natural resources. Every year, the problems get more acute. And every year, more brave people stand up for the earth and try to solve our environmental crises.
This year will be no different. In fact, 2022 is shaping up to be a landmark year for the environment. What happens in the coming months may have impacts on the lives our children’s children will live. This is a time to pay attention.
This blog post will help. Below, we have compiled a quick look at the major environmental stories to follow in 2022. Read on to get informed, and if you’re ready to put your support behind an organization that’s making a difference, learn more about FiveADRIFT’s sustainability and ocean cleanup efforts.
The Biodiversity Crisis
After decades-old efforts by the United Nations to preserve global biodiversity have fallen flat, the world is now losing species at a faster rate than at any point since the most recent mass extinction event.
We’re at a pivotal moment — a moonshot to stop species loss before we get into irreversible territory. That’s why the journal Nature recently called 2022 a “make-or-break year” for biodiversity.
UN member states have publicly recognized that the world has not met previous biodiversity targets, and they are finalizing replacement targets unofficially referred to as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).
This set of targets, guidelines and planned actions may be one of the last chances to address the biodiversity crisis, and it’s going to be presented at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China. The conference is currently scheduled to begin on April 25, 2022.
A global report released in December of 2021 found that the United States played an enormous part in the global release of more than 8 million metric tons of plastic waste into the world’s oceans each year. The U.S. Congress passed the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act in March of 2021, and 2022 will be the year we begin to see whether the act is having its intended effect of reducing single-use plastic production and use.
Meanwhile, major litigation surrounding the introduction of new plastics plants has spilled over into 2022, and it’s likely that we will see resolutions in some of these cases this year. One notable example is the Formosa Plastics project in Louisiana. Environmental groups sued to block the petrochemical plant pending an environmental review by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Extreme Weather Events
The link between climate change and severe weather like droughts, floods, hurricanes and even snow storms is growing stronger every year. The U.S. saw 20 billion-plus-dollar severe weather events in 2021, compared to just three in 1980. And there’s no reason to believe the extreme weather is going to slow down in 2022.
What will happen in 2022, however, is states will begin using the $47 billion in federal funds earmarked for extreme weather adaptation and preparation efforts. We’ll hope to see them making sound investments in climate resilience, particularly in underserved communities.
The Wind Picks Up, the Sun Shines Brighter
The stage is set for 2022 to be the year of wind and solar energy. A massive report from Deloitte found that a unique combination of new technologies, falling solar costs and energy infrastructure development is likely to lead to a large increase in solar and wind energy development this year.
Meanwhile, a report from S&P Global Market Intelligence predicts that new solar will come online in 2022 at a pace that handily doubles the pace in 2021. As for wind, the report predicts that the U.S. will set new records for wind energy in 2022.
As public concern over biodiversity loss, plastic pollution and rising temperatures grows, so will direct action in the form of climate protests. Already in 2022, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest environmental harms in France. Meanwhile, the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion has 273 events planned in 86 countries around the world. This is likely only the beginning of the direct environmental action we will see in 2022.
The Effects of Climate Change on the Least Developed Countries
The climate crisis affects everyone, but it disproportionately affects those in the least developed countries. That’s because these countries are often less financially prepared to mitigate the negative effects of a changing climate. The UN plans to address this particular problem at the 5th UN Conference on Least Developed Countries (LDC5) in 2022.
For the first time, this once-in-a-decade conference will include a roundtable working discussion dedicated to addressing climate change in the least developed countries. One of the focuses of the roundtable will be to find ways to promote much-needed economic growth that doesn’t further endanger the fragile environments, habitats and ecosystems in these countries.
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP27)
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) is always a big environmental story to follow, but 2022’s conference will be more important and impactful than ever. It’s scheduled to take place in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, and it comes on the heels of a shocking report from the World Meteorological Association that is likely to be a major topic of discussion.
The report placed the spotlight on the disproportionate vulnerability of Africa and its people in the face of climate change. By 2030, the report estimates, extreme heat, flooding and droughts will threaten 118 million of the lowest-income Africans, threatening progress and economic development efforts in the region.
Do Your Part: Stay Informed & Give Support
As citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to know what’s happening to our world’s environment. The news isn’t all bad, but it’s all important. Paying attention puts you on solid footing to do something about the environmental stories you care about.
Stay informed, support those who are making a difference and make a difference yourself. If we all do it, we can make a real impact. At FiveADRIFT, we promise to keep supporting ocean conservation and sustainability. To put your support behind an organization that donates 100% of its profits to ocean cleanup charities, shop FiveADRIFT’s sustainable beach towels now.