Reducing global emissions that are triggering climate change remains at the forefront of the world's environmental agenda on Earth Day, which for more than 50 years has been celebrated on April 22.
Like last year, Earth Day is focusing on investments that benefit the planet and curtail fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – the largest contributors to climate change.
Specifically, organizers are urging people and organizations to invest in companies that take the environment into account.
"More companies are focusing on green investments and people are switching to more sustainable products all over the planet," said Kathleen Rogers, president of EarthDay.org.
Climate change, which is causing more extreme weather patterns around the world, remains the top priority. Planet-warming greenhouse gases are blamed for increased drought, wildfires, storms, floods and catastrophic downpours.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that the "climate time bomb is ticking" as he urged wealthy nations to slash emissions more quickly in light of a new assessment from scientists that found the rate of temperature increase is going up. "The rate of temperature rise in the last half century is the highest in 2,000 years," he said last month.
"The scientific community has been consistent for some time that we need to reduce carbon emissions by 50%," said Michael Mann, a professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.
Rogers told VOA that climate change can be solved through international action.
It can be done "by engaging governments, businesses, institutions, and the more than 1 billion people who participate in Earth Day each year," she said.
However, solving the problem is easier said than done, she pointed out.
"As long as oil companies can make money selling fossil fuels, they will continue to do that," she said. "So unless consumers send a different signal or governments put their foot down, it won't change."
At the same time, consumers increasingly have renewable energy options as more governments adopt policies to shift from fossil fuels.
"A number of fossil fuel companies are seeing the writing on the wall," Mann told VOA, "and starting to invest more in renewable energy."
In the past year, Mann noted, it is becoming more common for companies to apply a set of policies known as Environmental Social Governance, or ESG. Much of the growth of ESG has been driven by environmental concerns.
Rogers said companies that focus on environmental and social responsibilities are thriving. "There is no longer a choice between going green and growing long-term profits," she said.
Alice Alpert, a senior climate scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group, said being green is increasingly cost effective.
"There's a market for electric vehicles that is expanding" she said, "as well as solar and wind power that is cheaper than fossil fuel."
BlocPower, a New York-based climate technology startup, says it is helping to make American cities greener and healthier. The company partners with utilities, government agencies and building owners to identify energy-wasting buildings to retrofit. Then BlocPower works with these building owners to develop, install and finance upgrades that reduce fossil fuel consumption — like replacing an oil-burning boiler with an electric heat pump.
"We remove fossil fuel infrastructure from buildings and upgrade them with modern, electric cooling and heating systems," explained Jon Moeller, the firm's chief operating officer. "By removing natural gas, fuel oil or propane combustion, it improves the air quality."
For David Ortega, 20, a business major at the University of Maryland, working for a green company when he graduates is important. "With climate change and other environmental problems, I want to do my part in helping to protect the Earth."
Earthday.org points out that young people like Ortega, part of Generation Z (born from 1991-2012), are providing the inspiration to push forward environmental incentives.
"They're deeply aware to the extent their future is threatened," said Mann.
Ella Enck, 17, a high school student in Alexandria, Virginia, said she is concerned about the repercussions of climate change.
"To me, it's really scary," she said. "I think my peers should ride a bike or use public transportation, rather than drive a car, and also learn about solar power to conserve energy."
Mann is looking at the climate crisis by drawing on the Earth's past in his forthcoming book, Our Fragile Moment.
He said that, despite a dire situation, the lessons from the past show us it's not too late to prevent the worst consequences of climate change.
"I think there's a danger that sometimes the climate threat is framed in gloom and doom, and that it's too late to do anything about it, but that's not true."
He said there has been real progress in working to reduce carbon emissions, even though it may not be as bold as some would like.