Work ahead is daunting, but window of opportunity is opening
With President-elect Joe Biden headed to the White House, a path is opening up to protect wild nature for the benefit of all people and confront the climate crisis head-on. The next four years should provide an opportunity to undo some of the worst attacks of the Trump regime and build new, lasting conservation achievements.
While the nation focuses on rebuilding our economy and managing the COVID-19 pandemic, we must also tackle the existential threat of the climate and extinction crisis. In the coming years, our work will focus on these core goals:
Making public lands part of the climate solution. For generations, the federal government has been treating public lands and waters largely as a source of oil, gas and coal. This means shared spaces that are supposed to benefit all of us are instead managed in a way that helps powerful special interests while driving the climate crisis. We’re working to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions from public lands by sharply reducing fossil fuel development; ramping up renewable energy development; and restoring and protecting landscapes to absorb climate emissions and help communities and species adapt.
Protecting 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. We're prioritizing conservation of large, interconnected landscapes that will help species and communities adapt to or mitigate the effects of climate change, as well as important cultural and historical sites. We’re pushing lawmakers to adopt measures that put these exceptional lands and waters off limits to development and manage them in a way that incorporates both the latest science and traditional or communal knowledge.
Ensuring people equitably benefit from wild nature and public lands. Public lands should be accessible and welcoming for all people. We work to support and protect open space, including close to the urban areas where most people live, and enact programs that help communities enjoy health and other benefits from those places. We are also committed to working to build a more inclusive conservation movement.
To be sure, the task ahead is daunting. In his four years in office, Trump weakened or reversed about 125 environmental rules, with dozens more rollbacks underway. In his remaining time in the White House, there’s no doubt he’ll prioritize even more anti-conservation policies and favors to the fossil fuel industry. Just undoing that damage will take a lot of time and energy.
But the last year has shown that even in the most trying circumstances, people can find common ground and work toward solutions. Our window of opportunity is now open to come together and build a better, healthier and more equitable future.