Today, President Biden released a second round of conservation-related executive orders as part of a broader package to act on climate. These orders expand on those announced on Inauguration Day, and focus on restoring science-based policymaking, protecting our public lands and helping to preserve biodiversity. Also included are actions to increase the deployment of renewable energy projects, in order to curb rising carbon emissions.
“The past four years were an all-out assault on wildlife and science, and it is with huge relief that the Biden administration is taking climate change seriously, will restore scientific integrity and work to protect and restore bedrock environmental laws," said Aimee Delach, senior policy analyst, climate adaptation. "Defenders looks forward to working with the new administration to develop science-driven policies that respond to the current impacts of climate change while also mitigating future threats."
Installing a National Climate Task Force
Formed to coordinate climate efforts, this new National Climate Task Force is fundamental to the implementation of President Biden’s ambitious climate plan. Led by former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, this council will ensure the implementation of the president’s climate plan.
“Today’s groundbreaking establishment of a task force is fundamental to the implementation of President Biden’s climate plan," said Delach. "We are thankful that the Biden administration is quickly working to address the root causes of climate, protect our public lands, rein in giveaways to fossil fuel CEOs and protect our wildlife and the places they call home."
Halting Federal Oil and Gas Leases
The executive order today also directs the Secretary of the Interior to pause new oil and natural gas leases on public lands or offshore waters. As part of this, there will be rigorous reviews of all existing leasing and permitting practices related to fossil fuel development on public lands and waters that will identify steps to double renewable energy production from offshore wind by 2030.
“The federal oil and gas leasing program is a major contributor to climate change and pollution at the expense of human health and our environment," said Jim Lyons, vice president for landscape conservation. "President Biden recognizes that renewable energy is an integral part of the solution to this problem and an opportunity to create new, clean energy jobs. The administration’s emphasis on new initiatives in agriculture and forest management can also help address both the climate and biodiversity crises we face. We look forward to working with the administration to implement these climate strategies to minimize negative impacts to people, wildlife and ecologically and culturally important lands and resources.”
Protecting Biodiversity with 30x30
President Biden is demonstrating through his actions that he takes climate change and biodiversity loss seriously. Science is showing us that we are facing a surging climate crisis and an unprecedented and accelerating biodiversity crisis. With 1 million species threatened with extinction, the time to act is now. Today’s action, coupled with those last week, is an important start on some of the long-overdue efforts needed to address the biodiversity crisis. Defenders will work with stakeholders to maximize the benefits of 30x30 for biodiversity. In 2020, Defenders published a report that highlighted the conservation strategies needed for protecting 30% of our terrestrial and marine systems by 2030.
“We applaud and support today’s action by the Biden administration to set a national goal to conserve at least 30% of our lands and waters by 2030,” said Jacob Malcom, director of the Center for Conservation Innovation, Defenders of Wildlife. “As a result of threats from climate change and habitat destruction, about 1 million species may face extinction. Setting a 30x30 conservation goal means we can begin to address the intertwined biodiversity and climate crises at the same time, saving two birds – and bears and plants and, ultimately, us – with one goal. We are excited to support this growing global effort.”
Defenders of Wildlife is celebrating 75 years of protecting all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With a nationwide network of nearly 2.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit defenders.org/newsroom and follow us on Twitter @Defenders.