Earth Day to Earth Day: A year of environmental achievements

Earth Day 2024

Earth Day 2024 is fast approaching and will highlight the urgency and importance of tackling environmental issues, placing a special focus on combating plastic pollution. As we prepare to commemorate this pivotal day, it is essential to reflect on the environmental strides we’ve made since the last Earth Day in 2023. 

From groundbreaking legislation to significant investments in renewable energy, the past year has seen notable advancements in our collective effort to safeguard the planet and drive business sustainability. Keep reading as we dive into some of these breakthroughs that reinforce the ongoing commitment required to foster a sustainable and plastic-free future.

About Earth Day 2024

The 2024 Earth Day calls for the end of plastics for the sake of human and planetary health. It demands a 60 percent reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040 and an ultimate goal of building a plastic-free future for generations to come. The origins of Earth Day go back to 1970, and since its inception, it has become an instrumental driver for environmental sustainability and conservation. 

Environmental achievements in the past year

In celebration of Earth’s Day’s long history of driving environmental impact and positive change, we’re reflecting on some of the key environmental achievements since the last Earth Day in 2023.

1. The EPA cracks down on toxic chemicals commonly used in plastics

In December 2023, the EPA announced it was prioritising risk evaluations for five chemicals mainly used to make plastics. The announcement marked the beginning of a 12-month process the EPA said would likely result in each chemical’s designation as a ‘high priority’ substance under the Toxic Substances Control Act. 

This designation would allow regulators to launch the intensive three-and-a-half-year review process that would result in banning or restricting the uses of the chemicals. Each of the five chemicals used to make plastics had previously been tied to an increased risk of causing cancer. The move represented a commitment to studying and regulating toxic chemicals to promote a safer environment. 

2. The monumental “High Seas” Treaty is adopted

The United Nations formally adopted the High Seas Treaty, an updated framework to the 1994 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. It extended environmental protections to two-thirds of the ocean that lie beyond national jurisdictions.

The world’s oceans play a vital role in everything from regulating the climate to the global economy, and the implementation of this Treaty was seen as giving oceans a fighting chance.

3. More investments in solar power than in oil

The International Energy Agency (IEA) reported a significant shift in energy investment patterns. They shared that solar power investments have surpassed upstream oil for the first time in human recorded history. 

Over $1 billion per day was invested in solar power in 2023, exceeding the total spending for new upstream oil projects. It is expected the rise in clean-energy spending was driven by a range of factors, such as government initiatives. However, it offers optimism for efforts to fight climate change and drive sustainable energy solutions. 

4. 26 species at risk of extinction recover in Australia

While Australia is often recognised for its high mammal extinction rates, 2023 offered a glimmer of hope as 26 species at risk of extinction recovered. The species recovered enough that they were no longer classified as threatened under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act. 

Some notable recoveries include the humpback whale, western quoll, the greater bilby, and burrowing bettong. Although some species benefit from predator control and habitat management, conservationists have emphasised the need for ongoing active management to sustain these positive results. 

5. Landmark chemicals Accord introduced to tackle toxic substances

In September 2023, the world agreed to the Global Framework on Chemicals, a historic deal to protect the environment and people from chemical pollution. This form of pollution has been found to cause approximately two million deaths annually

The agreement consists of 28 frameworks, which, among other things, call for a phase-out of highly hazardous pesticides and a crackdown on the trafficking of illegal chemicals. This new framework recognises waste and pollution as a worldwide crisis. The UNEP is managing a dedicated trust fund in support of this framework, and Germany has already committed 20 million euros to it. Spain, Switzerland, and the Netherlands have also contributed. 

6. The first Global Stocktake occurred

The Global Stocktake is a key component of the Paris Agreement and acts as a comprehensive assessment of the world’s progress on climate action. The first-ever Global Stocktake occurred at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28). This process allowed countries and stakeholders to see where they have collectively made progress towards meeting the objectives of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and where they could make improvements. 

Key takeaways

The journey from Earth Day 2023 to Earth Day 2024 has been marked by significant environmental milestones. These achievements highlight a year of hopeful progress in the fight against environmental degradation and climate change. 

If we are to learn anything from past Earth Days, it is that persistent effort, global cooperation, and innovative solutions are cornerstones of climate action. Let’s carry forward the momentum of the past year’s achievements, renewing our commitment to protect the planet for generations to come.

Share via:

Latest Insights

Business spotlight - Cpl

Business Spotlights: Cpl

Explore how Cpl is advancing its sustainability journey, focusing on Scope 3 emissions and impactful strategies to foster a greener future.

Diploma in Business Sustainability

Want to gain a comprehensive understanding of sustainability best practices and get equipped with the practical knowledge needed to lead sustainability initiatives at your organisation?

My cart
Your cart is empty.

Looks like you haven't made a choice yet.