Earth Day 2021: Awakened Not Woke

Joel B. Stronberg
6 min readApr 24, 2021
Earthrise Courtesy of NASA

…in culture and politics today, the most prominent uses of “woke” are as a pejorative…

It’s Earth Day 2021, and I hope the world’s leaders will boldly go where none have gone before. I am optimistic.

Timed to coincide with Earth Day 2021, 300 businesses, including Nike, Coca-Cola, Lyft, Google, McDonald’s, and Walmart, are asking President Biden to adopt the ambitious and attainable target of cutting GHG emissions by at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030. Corporate Americans are not the only ones showing a willingness to go green.

This week, leaders of the United Mine Workers of America’s (UMWA) announced their support for the President’s efforts to speed the decarb-onization of the US economy — starting with the rapid expansion of clean power sources like solar and wind, as well as the electrification of the trans-portation sector. Together the power and transportation sectors account for 57 percent of US GHG emissions. (See Figure 1)

There are other signs of hope for a greener tomorrow coming out of both industry and labor. As reported in the Detroit News, trade groups representing major automakers, their suppliers, and the United Auto Workers are asking President Joe Biden for a “comprehensive plan” on electric vehicles, more investment, and expanded tax incentives for EV purchases.

Spring is a time of awakening. This Earth Day, it seems with the ascendance of Joe Biden to the presidency — or at least with the absence of Donald Trump — the nation’s corporate and labor leaders are now awakening to the need and possibilities of a low-carbon economy. The truth is other.

Fossil fuel companies like BP, Total, and Shell are moving away from their oily roots. Shell has announced it would be spending 25 percent of its capital ex-penditures by 2025 on low-carbon energy. We’re talking real money here. If the company does what it’s promising, it will be shelling out $5 billion a year.

BP’s CEO, Bernard Looney, announced early in 2020 that the company needed to reinvent itself and set its sights on having a net-zero footprint by 2050 — if not sooner. Total…

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.