Photo of a high alpine meadow in Colorado's East River basin.
Sunrise in East River Basin The early morning sun finally illuminates peaks rising above the upper East River Basin. © Shane Morrison/TNC Photo Contest 2019

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New U.S. Actions Elevate Climate Crisis, Land and Water Conservation, Environmental Justice and the Role of Science

January 20:

Biden Administration’s First Day Brings Progress on Climate, Nature

Read the Press Release

Today U.S. President Joe Biden signed a series of executive orders outlining steps his administration will take regarding climate change, land and water protection, environmental justice, and the role of science in decision-making.

The orders include the announcement that the United States will host a Climate Leaders’ Summit on Earth Day, will begin regulatory actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and will prioritize environmental justice and the creation of jobs in impacted communities. As a part of that, new offices will be created in the federal government to coordinate a whole-government approach to climate change. Other new offices will focus on environmental justice and equity, and agencies will invest in communities that have long been disproportionately impacted by pollution, climate change and more.

The orders also commit to the goal of conserving 30% of the country’s lands and waters by 2030, aligning the United States with a global “30x30” effort centered on including input from agricultural and forest landowners, fishermen, tribes, state and local officials and more. In addition, the orders call for a Civilian Climate Corps investing in a new generation of Americans working to conserve and restore nature and address a changing climate. Finally, the orders emphasize the use of science and evidence-based decision-making at federal agencies and reestablish the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

Elevating the importance of the climate crisis, land and water conservation, and science hits the trifecta of strategies necessary to protect our planet and its people.

Jennifer Morris CEO of The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy’s CEO, Jennifer Morris, issued the following statement in response:

“Elevating the importance of the climate crisis, land and water conservation, and science hits the trifecta of strategies necessary to protect our planet and its people. And, the groundbreaking steps to ensure this work is done equitably and justly are essential– it is simply not success if only some of us benefit.

“The climate crisis impacts every corner of the United States. Hosting a global summit on the topic here and taking quick action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions send a strong signal that the nation is ready to do its part. We need a consistent and comprehensive effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero by 2050. That requires the kind of holistic, government-wide approach outlined in these orders, and it requires ambitious science-based policies to support essential changes. Creating a Civilian Climate Corps can advance climate goals too, launching a new generation of workers conserving and restoring nature, while creating jobs and improving the economy. And with a focus on vitally important environmental justice and worker retraining initiatives, we can help ensure an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.  

“The United States’ commitment to a 30x30 goal, which aims to protect 30 percent of lands and waters globally by 2030, is equally important. Protecting outdoor spaces and enhancing the quality and management of working lands and waters will be critical to reaching the 30x30 goal. We must utilize a comprehensive view of conservation to achieve this goal and ensure these decisions are shaped by science and inclusive processes. Only by working collaboratively with Indigenous peoples, local communities, fishing, ranching, farming and urban constituencies can we achieve lasting, durable results.

“Finally, as a science-based organization with hundreds of scientists around the world, we agree that ensuring science is central to informing decision-making creates a necessary foundation for success. Science helps us identify solutions that produce results and can be replicated at larger scales. Nowhere is that more important, with more at stake, than in advancing the health of our world and its people.

“There is much more work ahead on all of these fronts, but it is heartening to see this movement in the right direction. We’re ready, building upon our science, to continue working with the administration, Congress and other leaders to keep making progress.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 75 countries and territories: 37 by direct conservation impact and 38 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.