10 Best Green Stories of 2007

Grist has an excellent post called The Top Green Stories of 2007.  While they highlighted some of the biggest news, good and bad, I tried to focus on the most positive developments, some of which didn’t get the media attention they deserved.  Overall 2007 was an amazing year for the environmental movement, but we’ve still got much work to do.  At NWF, we’re all working hard to make sure that 2008 puts 2007 to shame in this category.

1.  A company called Nanosolar has created solar panels that are more efficient than coal.

“With a $1-per-watt panel,” [CEO Martin Roscheisen] said, “it is possible to build $2-per-watt systems.”
According to the Energy Department, building a new coal plant costs about $2.1 a watt, plus the cost of fuel and emissions, he said.

2.  Congress passed a landmark energy bill, which does the following:

The bill increases vehicle fuel economy standards by 40 percent and will save consumers $40 billion a year at the pump and help spur innovation and new American jobs. Its improved energy efficiency standards covering a wide range of products, lighting and buildings will also benefit American consumers.
The Energy Bill also improves provisions that boost homegrown biofuels and reduce our dependency on oil. The improvements include performance-based standards to ensure biofuels significantly curb global warming pollution and help to ease some of the impacts of biofuels production on wildlife and native habitats. National Wildlife Federation has advocated for these additional standards as important protections for the future of wildlife.

3.  Al Gore co-hosted Live Earth:  The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis:

Live Earth was a monumental music event that brought together a global audience on July 7, 2007 to combat the climate crisis. Live Earth staged concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Hamburg – as well as special broadcast events in Antarctica, Kyoto and Washington, DC – and featured feature more than 150 of the world’s best music acts – a mix of both legendary music acts like The Police, Genesis, Bon Jovi and Madonna with the latest headliners like Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas and Jack Johnson.

Gore also shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

4.  Investments in green technology more than doubled over the past year:

While the coal and nuclear industries spent the year petitioning the government for handouts, people with their own money on the line flocked to the hottest investment since the internet: green tech. Where 2006 saw $1.2 billion dumped into the clean-tech sector, 2007 saw $2.6 billion in the first nine months alone.

5.  Nine Midwestern governors and the Premier of Manitoba signed an historic greenhouse gas accord:

This has powerful implications not just for state and regional progress, but for global warming policy nationwide.
In addition, it lays out a detailed road map of supporting policies and regional partnerships to acheive the following, amongst other things:

25 by 25 in renewable energy and fuels (25% by 2025).

2% energy from efficiency by 2015 and 2% per year thereafter.

Carbon pipeline sited and permitted and carbon storage regs by 2012, all new coal plants to capture and store CO2 by 2020.

6.  Over 5,000 college students came together at Power Shift 2007 to demand action on climate legislation.  This Discovery Channel video explains.  Here is another video of NWF’s own Derek Brockbank, at Power Shift.

7.  In Bali, world leaders expressed their willingness to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  NWF CEO Larry Schweiger explains:

Bali laid the groundwork for developing a fair climate plan that addresses the needs of nations representing those most vulnerable to the very real consequences of global warming. It also set the stage for deploying on a global scale the kind of clean energy technology needed to move beyond a fossil-fuel based energy future.

8.  The Climate Security Act has gone further than any climate bill has ever gone in Congress.  A vote is expected in the full Senate in the next few months.

“This evening’s vote marks a new era in Congress and a new approach to global warming. After years of empty promises in Congress, this evening’s victory is a sign that the leadership and political will are at hand to get the job done.
“The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, led by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cali., has sent to the full Senate meaningful global warming legislation that would quickly put the nation on the right path to reducing the pollution causing global warming.

Learn more about the markup at Hill Heat.

9.  Al Gore and Richard Branson announced the Virgin Earth Challenge:

The Virgin Earth Challenge is a competition offering a $25 million prize for the first person or organization to come up with a way of scrubbing greenhouse gases out of the Earth’s atmosphere to avoid global warming. The prize was conceived and financed by Sir Richard Branson, a successful British entrepreneur, and was announced in London on 9 February 2007 by Branson and former US Vice President and 2007 Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, creator of the 2006 film An Inconvenient Truth on climate change.

This prize has created incentives for some amazing technologies.

10. All of the major Democratic candidates for President have plans to combat climate change.  Grist has some excellent tools to compare and contrast:

Compare the candidates’ green positions using our handy chart.  And watch video of some of the candidates speaking at the first-ever presidential candidate forum focused on climate change and energy policy, cosponsored by Grist.