News of the week
Saving 30 percent of the planet by 2030
Push to save 30 percent of the planet
This past week, Rainforest Trust announced that it will provide $500 million to conserve 30 percent of the planet. Other conservation funding organizations are joining Rainforest Trust, with their collective pledge totaling $5 billion. Funders include: Arcadia, Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Nia Tero, Rainforest Trust, the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation, and the Wyss Foundation. This is the largest amount of private funding ever pledged for biodiversity conservation.
This is part of a global campaign that has come to be known as the 30 by 30 goal. This campaign began in 2010, when parties at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) established the goal of protecting 17 percent of the world’s land and 10 percent of the oceans by 2020. The CBD upped the figure to 30 percent at their 2020 conference.
Other nongovernmental organizations are getting on board. In April 2019, the Global Deal For Nature, an international group of prominent scientists, writers, academics, and business representatives, published “A Global Deal for Nature: Guiding Principles, Milestones, and Targets" that describes a science-based plan to save the biodiversity throughout the entire globe. The 30 by 30 goal is the principle around which the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People has just recently formed.
With greater destruction of rainforests like the Amazon, increased plastic pollution, and climate change fueling larger wildfires, a greater drive to save the natural world has emerged. Saving wildlife and forests has come to be seen as being part of the fight against global heating.
In the United States
In October of 2019, Democratic Senator Tom Udall from New Mexico introduced a resolution expressing “the sense of the Senate” that the federal government should establish the 30 by 30 goal. In an op-ed for High Country News, Udall went further, saying that 50 percent of U.S. land and water should be preserved by 2050. Udall’s resolution is currently languishing in the Senate.
One of the first things Joe Biden did when he entered the White House was to sign an Executive Order that put the climate crisis at the center of foreign policy and national security. Part of the Order declares a commitment to implementing the 30 by 30 goal in the United States.
According to a Center For American Progress report from December of 2018, the United States currently has ten percent of its lands in conservation status. (We shouldn’t feel bad. According to the same report, Canada conserves only six percent, and Mexico only two percent.)
So how does the United States conserve another 20 percent of our land in the next nine years? For nature lovers, conservationists, and the folks who came up with the 30 by 30 goal, there may be some disappointment to learn that under Biden’s EO, logging and farming, including larges-scale agriculture, could still be considered as participating in the 30 by 30 program in the U.S. It also allows for the voluntary stewardship of lands on private property, which means that much of the Executive Order is toothless.
While much of the EO sets out laudable goals, like reforestation, much of it is just moving the goal posts.
Needless to say, in a land where wearing a protective mask or getting a vaccine can turn into a political act, there are those who oppose the 30 by 30 plan. The industry front group, The Heritage Foundation, praises the EO’s toothlessness. An organization called American Stewards, an organization whose work is dedicated, at least in part, to delisting species from protection under the Endangered Species Act, has mounted a campaign against Biden’s 30 by 30 plan.
Governors have banded together to protest the 30 by 30 Executive Order, with one governor, Pete Ricketts, signing his own Executive Order to keep provisions of Biden’s Executive Order from being implemented in his state of Nebraska. He has travelled his state to stir up opposition to the plan. In New Mexico, where the governor signed his own EO calling for that state to provide its own 30 by 30 plan, Chaves County passed a resolution to keep their portion of New Mexico free from such interference.
At the federal level, in May of this year Colorado representative Lauren Boebert introduced the 30 by 30 Termination Act, which denies funding for Biden’s EO. Her web page announcing the bill’s introduction is, well, a little bit crazy. Somehow she manages to mention the bogeyman for much of the GOP, George Soros, in her announcement.
What will happen?
With many countries such as Mexico having such a small amount of their lands in some conservation status, how will the goal of 30 by 30 be met? Many of the regions of the world are fairly unscathed by humanity, large brushlands and deserts that do not have great biodiversity. Will these places be overlooked as we concentrate to save life-rich rainforests?
Is leaving 30 percent set aside for the natural world asking too much? Too little?
What of the U.S.? Will we be able to give meaning to this pledge? Will the GOP and industry be able to harpoon it? Let us know what you think. Please leave a comment.
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