Last week was a whirlwind of exciting climate action. And, after the past four years of climate denial and outright hostility, you’d be forgiven for not being able to take it all in at once. In fact, one item nestled into the Biden-Harris climate Executive Order—an item that didn’t often make the headlines—is an ambitious pledge to protect 30 percent of America’s lands and inland waters and 30 percent of its ocean area by 2030, also known as 30x30.
The 30x30 section of the climate Executive Order is small but mighty: a host of federal agencies led by the Department of the Interior have 90 days to develop a report for the White House’s new National Climate Task Force that recommends steps the U.S. should take, with stakeholders, to achieve 30x30. The report will incorporate guidelines for determining what qualifies for conservation, identify ways to measure progress, and be developed in coordination with a range of stakeholders, from agricultural and forest landowners to fishermen, Tribes to States and local officials. It will bring different voices to the table—voices that have often been left out of the decision-making process—to reach a bold objective.
Recent nationwide polling reveals that 30x30 receives broad support. Four out of five voters in the U.S. favor a plan to protect at least 30 percent of America’s land, ocean areas, and inland waters by the year 2030 because they understand it will improve our economy and our health. In fact:
- More than half of the voters polled strongly favor protecting at least 30 percent of America’s land, ocean areas, and inland waters by the year 2030.
- By a ratio of more than 2-to-1, voters think 30x30 would be good for the economy.
- People think the plan is reasonable (75%) and achievable (73%).
- Overwhelming majorities of respondents agree that 30x30 would be good for health, air and water, plants and animals, fish and wildlife, and addressing climate change.
Adopting 30x30 sets a target for us to achieve more protections for nature that will help ensure a healthier climate, while addressing the world’s biodiversity crisis—two issues that must be addressed in parallel if we are to truly save our planet. Protection of natural ecosystems is a simple, but powerful solution to:
- Fight climate change (think of forests and wetlands as perfectly packaged climate mitigation tools); and,
- Provide areas for wildlife to recover from various stresses, preserving biodiversity and strengthening resilience in the face of climate change (like national parks and the ocean counterpart, marine protected areas, do).
Protecting at least 30 percent of America’s lands, inland waters, and ocean areas by 2030 protects our water, air quality, food, and the health of our children and families. And, if done right, 30x30 should create more equitable access to nature, bring communities together to conserve our shared natural heritage, and center tribal sovereignty and self-determination.
We’re excited to get started working with Americans nationwide to develop a plan to turn the 30x30 vision into solid on-the-ground actions to protect our families and our future.