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.


Emission reductions are considered permanent if they are not reversible. In some projects, such as forestry or soil preservation, carbon offset credits are issued based upon the volume of CO2 that will be sequestered over future decades—but human actions and natural processes such as forest fires, disease, and soil tillage can disrupt those projects. When that happens, the emission reductions claimed by the project are reversed.

The destruction of halocarbon does not carry this risk. All destruction activities in Tradewater’s projects are conducted pursuant to the Montreal Protocol , which requires “a destruction process” that “results in the permanent transformation, or decomposition of all or a significant portion of such substances.” Specifically, the destruction facilities Tradewater uses must meet or exceed the recommendations of the UN Technology & Economic Assessment Panel , which approves certain technologies to destroy halocarbons, including the requirement that the technology achieve a 99.99% or higher “destruction and removal efficiency.” Simply put, this means that Tradewater’s technologies ensure that over 99.99% of the chemicals are permanently destroyed. During the destruction process, a continuous emission monitoring system is used to ensure full destruction of the ODS collected.


Some carbon offset projects necessarily rely on estimations or assumptions when calculating the emission reductions from project activities. Forestry projects, where developers make assumptions about the carbon that will be sequestered over future decades if trees are conserved, are a perfect example. Such projects sometimes result in an overestimation of the environmental benefit of the project.

Tradewater’s halocarbon projects avoid the issue of overestimation by consistently conducting extremely precise testing and measurement of the amount of refrigerant destroyed in each project.

  • Every container of ODS that Tradewater destroys is weighed by a third-party using regularly calibrated scales. The ODS is then sampled by a third-party and analyzed by an accredited refrigerant laboratory to determine its species and purity. These two steps combine to ensure that credits are issued only for the precise volume and type of refrigerant destroyed.
  • The destruction facilities that Tradewater uses continuously monitor the incineration process during destruction events to ensure that over 99.99% of the ODS is destroyed. This monitoring is mandated by regulatory protocols and is part of the verification process to which projects are subjected.
  • Tradewater accounts for the project emissions created during the collection, transport, and destruction of ODS, and the number of offsets issued is reduced by a corresponding amount. The protocols that we use also build in other reductions to account for substitute chemicals that will be used to replace the destroyed refrigerants. Tradewater publishes this information in the documentation for all its ODS destruction projects. These documents outline how the material was obtained, the project emissions calculations, the test results, and the amount and type of ODS chemicals destroyed, among other information.
  • Additionality

    It is a basic requirement of all carbon offset projects that the underlying project activities are additional. “Additional” means that the projects would not happen in the absence of a carbon market. Tradewater’s halocarbon projects simply would not happen – and the gases would be left to escape into the atmosphere – without the sale of the resulting carbon offset credits. This is because there is no mandate to collect and destroy these gases. It is still permissible to buy, sell, and use halocarbons that were produced before the ban. There are other reasons halocarbon destruction projects are additional:

    • There are no incentives or financial mechanisms to encourage halocarbon destruction. According to the International Energy Agency and United Nations Environment Program, “there is rarely funding nor incentive” to recover and destroy ozone depleting substances in storage tanks and discarded equipment. And collecting, transporting, and destroying halocarbons is time-intensive and expensive. The burden to collect and destroy these gases therefore remains prohibitive outside of carbon offset markets—meaning that if organizations like Tradewater do not do this work, nobody else will.
    • Countries are not focused on the need to collect and destroy halocarbons. The Montreal Protocol has been celebrated as a success because of its production ban. This success, however, ignores the legacy gases produced before the ban and is a blind spot for government regulators. In the U.S., for example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed a Vintaging Model in the 1990s to estimate the quantify of ozone depleting substances left in circulation. Based on the inputs and assumptions put into the model, the EPA predicted that no CFCs would be available for recovery beyond 2020 in the United States. But this prediction did not prove accurate. Tradewater has collected and destroyed more than 1.5 million pounds of CFCs globally in recent years and continues to identify thousands of pounds per week.
    • International carbon accounting standards do not require corporations to measure or track emissions tied to halocarbons, and refrigerants are specifically excluded from Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) commitments. These commitments derive from emissions reporting under the GHG Protocol, which requires companies to report on emissions only from new generation refrigerants, such as hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), but does not establish any obligation to report inventories or emissions of refrigerants still in use, such as CFCs and HCFCs. All these factors combine to make Tradewater’s carbon offset projects highly additional. As Giving Green, an initiative of IDinsight, concluded: “Tradewater would not exist without the offset market, so this element of additionality is clearly achieved.” The case for additionality is not so clear for some other project types, such as forestry and landfill gas carbon projects. For example, some forests are already being conserved for their beauty, or for use as parks, and generate carbon offset credits only because those conservation efforts do not yet have full formal protection in place to avoid deforestation in the future. Similarly, methane from landfills can be used to make electricity or captured as compressed natural gas, thereby creating additional revenue streams to support the activities, beyond the sale of carbon credits.