5 Environmental Stories We’re Following in 2022

Elyssa Dahl

With 2022 in full swing comes a new annual environmental outlook to consider. After all, for better or worse, no year in recent history has been alike when it comes to the climate crisis.

Last year generated distinctive data suggesting that significant action is needed in this new year. In January 2022, NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Berkeley Earth reported that the past seven years have been the hottest in recorded history. According to NOAA, July 2021 was Earth’s hottest month on record.

What does this mean for climate-concerned folks this year? We’ll be following these five environmental stories in particular to track this year’s fight against global warming:

1) Non-CO2 gases will receive more attention—and action.

“Non-CO2” refers to greenhouse gases that are not carbon dioxide, such as methane, nitrous oxide, and other fluorinated gases like refrigerants. While carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas emitted through human activities, the world must address all emission sources to reach IPCC global warming targets.

Telling by actions taken on the global stage in 2021, non-CO2 may see a greater focus in 2022. In September 2021, the EPA announced new regulations on hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), intended to decrease their production and use in the U.S. by 85% over the next 15 years. At the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit in Scotland in November 2021, President Biden mentioned methane as a major emissions contributor and called its mitigation “crucial to achieve a goal of limiting rising global temperatures.”

Despite these steps by government to address non-CO2 gases, we don’t need to rely on government politics alone to address this problem. Businesses leaders will need to look ahead to prepare for when regulation hits. Tradewater’s Catalytic Coalition helps businesses identify the refrigerants they oversee and create a plan to transition to new, more environmentally safe alternatives.

2) Small and medium sized businesses will receive more attention for efforts to mitigate their environmental impacts.

In the U.S., small businesses comprise 99.9% of all businesses and employ nearly half of all Americans. The sheer scale of this cohort of businesses means that their combined climate actions can have major impact, which U.S. government and businesses increasingly support.

In January 2022, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $35 million in funding for small businesses to pursue scientific, clean energy, and climate solutions. The funding will support 158 projects across 29 states. The private sector has also seen an increase in solutions for small businesses. In 2021, Intuit, a carbon neutral enterprise business, launched an innovative new platform for their small business partners interested in carbon neutrality, called the Intuit Climate Action Marketplace. It offers small business resources to reduce emissions on everything from shipping and logistics to food waste and energy.

Tradewater is a small business and we’ve created a program that allows other small businesses to measure, offset and reduce their annual emissions, called the Carbon Neutral Collective. The program is what we wanted to manage our emissions but that we didn’t yet see in the market—so we created it. It’s now available to small and medium sized businesses.

3) Discussion of cryptocurrencies and NFTs will continue to consider environmental impact.

Cryptocurrencies and the NFT market they enable both gained significant media traction in 2021. Yet because these digital tools require massive servers to keep them afloat, they’ve also received critical attention because of the huge energy needs required to support them and the associated greenhouse emissions.

2022 could very well see growth in targeted solutions to this problem, including the use of carbon offsetting to negate the negative energy impacts of the cryptocurrency and NFT markets.

4) We’ll see an increase in climate-related career opportunities.

As opportunities to mitigate climate change increase, so too does the professional and research infrastructure needed to support them. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment opportunities for environmental scientists and specialists will grow 8% between 2020 and 2030. Gen Z in particular is demonstrating a strong pull to these careers.

That couldn’t be truer here at Tradewater, where we look forward to being a part of the innovation that this growth will bring about. We believe that it will take a diverse group of people, skills, and contributions to have meaningful impact on the climate crisis—and we’re looking for likeminded, interdisciplinary environmental advocates to join our team.

5) Climate activists will educate the world about greenwashing and what can be done to go beyond appearances in climate action.

Many are becoming increasingly aware of “greenwashing,” a term that refers to companies’ use of environmental language to sell products but without a meaningful commitment to making real lasting changes. Because consumers report a willingness to spend more when a product has environmental branding, this unfortunate practice has become commonplace.

Climate activists can help educate others on common terms and their true meaning and intent. When examining a commitment to environmental action one must consider the ancillary and long-term effects.

For those looking to purchase carbon offsets, looking for high-quality offsets that offer additionality, permanency, and accountability is a must. Luckily, many resources exist to help consumers verify whether their climate actions are meaningful. Check out independent researchers like Giving Green to learn which actions have the most lasting impact.