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  • Writer's pictureKartik Verma

2021 Wrap up from 'the planet optimist'

Updated: May 26, 2022

Thank you so much for your support in getting this newsletter started, your encouragement means a lot! You all are superstars :) Today is the last edition of 2021, we will be back after the holidays with our next edition on Jan 10. We bring up the top three (optimistic) stories of climate action from 2021 to wrap up this year, happy holidays everyone!

What to expect today:

Achievements at COP26

Image Source: COP26

Negotiators from nearly 200 countries at the COP26 summit earlier this year in November reached an agreement to try to prevent progressively worse and potentially irreversible climate impacts. Here is a quick summary:


  • Reached a deal amongst 200 countries

  • Commit to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030

  • Agreed upon the mechanics of carbon trading

  • Need to tackle methane mentioned for the first time

  • US and China strike a rare climate deal


  • Rich countries don't make clear pledges for climate finance

  • Most vulnerable countries to climate change don't get funds to cope

  • Language on use of coal watered down at the last minute

  • Current national pledges would put the world on track for 2.4C

Source: Check out our coverage of the COP26 conference in here.

US back in climate action

Image Source: Thomas Lin from Pexels

Biden came into office promising a full, government-wide effort on climate change. And he started with a bang, signing measures to rejoin the Paris climate accord and block the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Under the Biden administration, 50 of Donald Trump’s environmental policies have been overturned and Biden has added 31 new measures and proposed 28 others, according to The Washington Post’s environmental action tracker. His latest executive order, on Dec. 8, calls for the federal government to be carbon neutral by 2050.

In addition, on Nov 5, the US Congress passed the biggest infrastructure bill in a decade that provides $1 trillion in nationwide spending on infrastructure. The $1 trillion package would invest in refurbishing aging roads, bridges and ports; easing transportation bottlenecks; replacing harmful lead pipes; expanding internet access; upgrading the nation’s power grid; and boosting infrastructure resilience amid growing concerns over climate change.

EU shifts to renewables

Image Source: EMBER Analysis

Earlier this year, it was reported for the first time that renewables generated more electricity than fossil fuels across the EU, spurred on by new solar and wind power projects. Reported in Jan 2021, 38% of electricity in Europe came from renewable sources whereas fossil fuels accounted for 37%.

Energy production accounts for nearly 3/4th of all emissions across the globe. This is a significant step in the right direction if we want to be on track to reduce our carbon emissions by half by the end of the decade to keep in line with the 1.5 C goals.

Source: Forbes

Most loved stories from the planet optimist

Thank you all who have passionately shared articles and allowed us to amplify those stories. Here are the top 5 stories which you all loved the most -

  • 13 Dec - Montreal protocol on Ozone

  • 6 Dec - Ocean cleanup project

  • 11 Oct - Electric vs. hydrogen planes

  • 4 Oct - A brief overview of carbon credits

  • 27 Sep - The fine print in McDonald’s climate goals

Recommendations from the team

  • Earth Quiz - How much do you know about our planet? (I scored 8/9)

  • Coldfusion - Turning plastic into jet fuel (11 min video)

  • Ted-Ed - the environmental impact of a pair of jeans (4 min video)

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