In the spring issue, I introduced you to Audubon’s new vision: a future where birds thrive across the Americas because Audubon is a powerful and diverse force for conservation—which will guide our work through 2028 and beyond. This month, and in future columns, I will lay out, in plain terms, what we need to accomplish and how we will achieve it.
Audubon’s Survival by Degrees report tells us birds face unprecedented threats from climate change across North America. According to the report’s science, by 2080, two-thirds of North America’s bird species may face unlivable conditions across their current ranges. The path to stabilizing the climate requires a dramatic change in how we produce electricity.
During the recent U.S. Climate Action Summit in Washington, D.C., I was honored to be on a panel with some of the most knowledgeable climate experts in the country. We discussed the urgent need for change, accountability, and progress in a just transition to a green economy.
The shift to clean energy and nature-positive markets presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that transcends political ideologies. It offers hope for a better future for both people and nature. It is essential that we prioritize this transition for the long-term survival of birds and, ultimately, for our own.
We have set ambitious goals for Audubon to play a significant part in changing our planet’s carbon trajectory. By 2028, Audubon and our partners will generate an additional 100 gigawatts of renewable energy by responsibly deploying well-sited and -operated solar and wind farms. Additionally, we plan to store at least 30 billion tons of carbon in natural areas such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands. Together, these efforts will provide critical habitat for birds, help mitigate the impacts of climate change, and contribute to the health of our planet.
Birds fly above ideological, political, and geographic divides. Following their lead, the Board of Directors considered Audubon’s ability to build bridges when, after months of research and deliberation, they announced their decision to retain the “Audubon” name despite its associations with the naturalist and enslaver John James Audubon. This has stirred understandably strong emotions. My role as Audubon’s leader is to keep the organization moving in pursuit of our mission and to fulfill our commitment to equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging.
I am optimistic about the future—our collective future. We have an incredible opportunity now, today, to change some of the worst trends currently plaguing us—bird loss, declining biodiversity, and disenfranchisement of people across the hemisphere. I believe the solutions are within reach, and together, we will create a better future for birds, people, and the planet.
This piece originally ran in the Summer 2023 issue. To receive our print magazine, become a member by making a donation today.