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2022 Was a Pivotal Year for the Environment

A giant art sculpture showing a tap outpouring plastic bottles at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) where delegates met to address the growing problem of plastic waste.

"We will remember this year as the point when we rededicated ourselves to a sustainable future,” said Assistant Secretary of State Monica Medina.

2022 Was a Pivotal Year for the Environment
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Despite the global cooling effects of the La Niña weather effect in the Pacific Ocean, the year 2022 was marked by waves of extreme heat across much of the world. In early spring, South Asia suffered through record-high temperatures. By early summer, Europe simmered in record heat, as did China, which registered the highest temperatures on record. Countries also experienced extreme rainfall, such as in Pakistan where record rainfalls brought destructive flooding.

Perhaps that is why the later months of the year saw a surge of global environmental activism. “I believe we will remember this year as the point when we rededicated ourselves to a sustainable future,” said Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental And Scientific Affairs Monica Medina in a blog post.

Confronting the climate crisis is a top priority of the Biden-Harris administration.

In an effort to protect global biodiversity, the United States committed to the global 30×30 goal, a promise to conserve at least 30 percent of global lands and waters by 2030.

In April, the United States and the Republic of Palau co-hosted the 7th Our Ocean Conference, which resulted in 410 commitments from leaders in both public and private sectors on issues including ending illegal fishing and plastic pollution; expanding ocean conservation and zero-emission shipping; and promoting the blue economy.

At home, the United States took the important step of ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer which will help mitigate global warming. The United States also created a global strategy to secure safe water for people around the world and led efforts to adopt a historic resolution at UNEA 5.2 to end plastic pollution. The U.S. additionally made historic progress with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which represents the single largest climate investment in U.S. history.

“As we started this year, we found ourselves standing at a crossroad,” said Assistant Secretary Medina. “Down one path was more of the same. More pollution and less biodiversity. More warming and less global security. Down the other path was a more sustainable future and a better world for our children and grandchildren. As this year ends, we can all say we have chosen that better path toward a world in which we live in harmony with nature.”