On its special day, what do you give the planet that has everything? How about some really good news? Last month, the International Energy Agency announced that "global emissions of carbon dioxide from the energy sector stalled in 2014, marking the first time in 40 years in which there was a halt or reduction in emissions of the greenhouse gas that was not tied to an economic downturn."
The next time someone tries to tell you that we can't really do anything about climate disruption, you can inform them that we already are. We (and by "we," I mean people all over the planet) are replacing fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy at a record pace. Ever since 2013, the planet has been adding more renewable energy than any other kind, and this good news about global emissions is a result. If we keep it up, this can be the turning point in limiting global warming and climate disruption.
But although emissions may have been flat for the planet last year, here in the U.S. they have risen slightly in the past two years. Fortunately, they're still below our national peak in 2007. That definitely would not be the case were it not for the incredible progress we've made in retiring polluting coal-fired power plants and, at the same time, adding new renewable energy. As President Obama pointed out in his weekly address last weekend, the U.S.currently installs as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008. We also added four times as much wind energy last year as we did in 2013.
The question, then, is how do we not only maintain this momentum but also build on it? And this time, when I say "we," I'm talking about each of us individually -- not just a bunch of "decision makers" somewhere. Simple: We must join our voices and combine our strength. Which, after all, is the whole purpose of a volunteer-driven group like the Sierra Club. We started doing this back in John Muir's day, when logging and mining companies tried to decimate the newly created Yosemite National Park. And we're still doing it today -- to stop dirty fuel corporations from destroying Earth's climate.
But given the scale of the challenge (and the size of our adversaries), we've had to up our game. Three weeks ago, I shared the news that we've launched AddUp, a new website that tries to make collective action both more powerful and more personal. If you aren't one of the thousands of people who've already tried it, then I can't think of a better time than right now. We have lots of campaigns and tools, including one that lets you join us in supporting the EPA's Clean Power Plan. The plan is critical to moving the U.S. beyond coal and other dirty fuels as fast as possible, and to making sure we don't see our climate-polluting emissions go anywhere but down in the future.
What better way to make this Earth Day count?