The year 2021 was rough in most aspects of life, but it was a good year for climate legislation. A new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy praised the efforts of more than a dozen states that passed renewable energy laws. Seven states created new energy laws that make electrification a priority. Five states and the District of Columbia passed laws requiring reduced consumption of water and energy by appliances. California and New York set goals for all new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission by 2035. Other achievements included greening public transit and reaching disadvantaged communities with energy-efficient housing communities that are conveniently located to public transit and adopting greener building codes.
Many of these new goals put into law by state governments are expecting to rely on the new 1.2-billion-dollar infrastructure law. This money will certainly help push parts of the country toward a greener future, but despite 2021 being a great year for renewable energy legislation, the US is extracting as many carbon-emitting fuels as ever.
Last year, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a “code red” on humanity’s climate change position. A world energy watchdog organization, the International Energy Agency, announced that in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must immediately cease all expansions of fossil fuel supplies. And, despite our pledges to the contrary, we continue to exploit fossil fuels to the detriment of our planet.
We sometimes like to consider our country to be a leader in the fight against climate change, with our President saying things like, “we can keep the goal of limiting global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius within our reach if we come together…” but this is blind optimism as political banter. According to the US Energy Information Administration, US crude oil production is estimated to increase for nine consecutive quarters from 2021 to 2023, to a peak higher than any time during the Trump administration. Worldwide, OPEC is also expected to increase crude oil production by nearly ten percent.
If we are truly planning to limit climate change, we need to back up our words with actions. It will take some sacrifices, but we have more to lose if we don’t take a stand. If we want to be world leaders in the age of renewable energy, it will take more than optimistic legislation. We need to be decreasing our fossil fuel extraction, not increasing it.