Seven Environmental Success Stories
Many of the statistics in We Tried to Warn You! may feel bleak—but incredible progress has also been made on a global scale over the past 50 years toward making the planet a greener and safer place. Below are seven environmental success stories showing how governments, corporations, and activists have created far-reaching change for a better future.
1) 1975 — The United States becomes the first country to make catalytic converters on car exhaust systems mandatory, dramatically reducing emission levels. Today, emission levels are 99% cleaner than before the legislation was introduced.
2) 1987 — The Montreal Protocol is agreed to, ultimately enforcing the regulation of nearly one hundred ozone-depleting chemicals. The enforcement of this agreement on an international scale has helped repair the ozone layer, saving an estimated two million people per year from skin cancer caused by UV exposure.
3) 2004 — Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, becomes the first Black African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Her efforts aimed at reforesting parts of the country, specifically linking the degradation of the natural environment with escalating poverty.
4) 2008 — The United Kingdom passes the Climate Change Act, the first government-introduced legislation providing a comprehensive set of laws and binding proposals set to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
5) 2012 — Divestment from fossil fuels begins, with many institutions refusing to own shares of or invest in companies that overtly pollute the earth (like oil and gas companies). If enough banks and other lending organizations take part in this effort, these businesses will theoretically not be able to raise enough capital to start new projects.
6) 2015 — The Paris Climate Treaty is signed by 196 countries, agreeing to try to limit the global temperature rise below two degrees celsius, with a target of below 1.5 degrees celsius in an attempt to stave off the more irreversible effects of climate change.
7) 2022 — The United States passes the Inflation Reduction Act, considered to be one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history. Parts of this new legislation include unprecedented investment in clean, domestic energy production.