Earth Day Edition - ESG and Climate News
Earth Day 2022
Earth Day began as a nationwide protest 52 years ago today in response to environmental degradation. Two events, specifically the Santa Barbara oil spill and the Cuyahoga River fire, catalyzed the largest protest in American history of 20 million people. Personally, it had a significant impact on one 9-year-old boy and established the direction of my career.
My colleague Kristina Wyatt and I shared our thoughts on why this Earth Day is different in a Fast Company article today.
There are similarities between the first Earth Day back in 1970 and today’s protests against climate inaction. Just like today, a war was destabilizing the world, there was civil unrest, and environmental apathy, yet courageous people took to the streets to warn of environmental disasters.
The awareness raised by the Earth Day protest morphed into a political movement and, in the same year the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act became law. This record of effective activism has no parallel - the momentum started on Earth Day 1970 saved countless lives and benefitted generations.
With every subsequent Earth Day, the awareness of environmental issues has grown, and so has the polarization. Maybe it's because pollution was more obvious in 1970, or maybe we have become more apathetic, but today’s threats are greater than ever before, yet we seem less able to come together on solutions.
The NPR podcast - Throughline - does an excellent job of telling the story of the people who started the Earth Day movement, what motivated them, and what happened as a result. Fifty years from now, I hope my grandchildren will thank today's activists for their courage to demand climate action.
Invest in our Planet
The theme of this year’s Earth Day is “Invest in our Planet.” It’s a call to action for the world's business leaders to invest in the global transition to a low carbon economy. And many are already listening. This week, Amazon announced it extended its position as the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable energy and the world’s largest investor, BlackRock, predicted an “investment boom” in renewables.
Following the seismic announcement of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) - a coalition of 450 financial firms managing more than $130 Trillion committed to “net zero” - comes this week’s news of the first science-based global standard for financial sector net-zero targets. This will enable financial institutions to set net-zero targets that are consistent with achieving a net-zero world by 2050.
Earth Day is a time to celebrate green heroes of the past and present like the five in this article, and for environmental volunteerism at events such as beach clean-ups. You can find opportunities to participate at the official Earth Day site.
Earth Day also highlights the power of grassroots action. Earth Day events and protests are now held in over 190 countries and bring together more than 1 billion people, making it the world’s largest environmental movement.
Last week’s newsletter focused on civil disobedience that broke out around the world after the latest IPCC climate report - including NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus who was arrested after he chained himself to a JP Morgan Chase building. This week a video of his emotional plea for action went viral. In another high-profile protest, activist Angus Rose ended his 37-day hunger strike protesting climate inaction when his actions forced UK members of parliament to listen to a briefing by a climate scientist.
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