2014 was a significant year for the climate. With 2015 underway, let's take a critical look at what happened in the year 2014.
It was the 38th consecutive year with anomalously high annual global temperatures and set a new record for the hottest year ever measured. The oceans drove the temperature rise in 2014, with several experiencing record temperatures. Global sea surface temperatures were 0.45 degree Celsius above the 1961-90 normal, while land temperatures were 0.86 degree Celsius above normal.
2. Australia repealed its carbon tax
In July 2014, the Australian government headed by PM Tony Abbott repealed the nation's carbon tax. John Connor, chief executive of Australia's Climate Institute, described it as "taking a monumentally reckless backward leap even as other countries are stepping up to climate action". While economists and experts know that carbon taxes are a good thing, the Australian public is not convinced. What's more concerning is what message this will send to other leaders as we gear up the climate talks.
Global carbon dioxide emissions rose to 40 billion metric tonnes in 2014 – a 2.5% increase from 2013 levels – suggesting we are unlikely to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius as major annual reductions in emissions would be needed.
1. Use of renewable energy set records across the globe
Germany set another record, with renewables producing 31% of the nation's electricity. Solar power production in California increased over 300% from May 2013 to May 2014. A record high 39% of Denmark's electricity was produced by wind power in 2014.
2. EPA proposes the Clean Power Plan
In June 2014, the EPA proposed a plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants in the United States. The plan is a signature piece of President Obama's climate change agenda, and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel plants to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. One of the strengths of the plan is that it is flexible, allowing each state to create an individual strategy (since each state has a different mix of energy sources and opportunities).
On September 21, 2014, people across the globe united to demand climate action. The march in New York was the largest climate march in history, with approximately 400,000 people showing up to make their voice heard. The People's Climate March was a monumental moment that upped public pressure, brought attention to the issue of climate change, and generated substantial momentum to be carried into 2015 and beyond.
While carbon dioxide emissions still rose in 2014 to new highs, we witnessed many positive shifts happening around the globe. Let's keep that momentum going.
This article was originally posted via Sustainable Collective, which has since joined forces with The Starfish Canada.