A Net Zero Future

Boston skyline & Charles River kayakers in summer

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This article was featured in the Spring 2020 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.

There are environmental issues worth fighting for. And then there's the greatest challenge of the 21st century: the climate crisis.

Understanding the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change, we know that a rise in average global temperatures is already harming people, wildlife, and the places we all inhabit. If we do nothing, we'll continue experiencing more extreme temperatures, and with that more frequent and intense droughts, floods, fires, and storms. We'll see increased coastal erosion, food and water shortages, and climate migration as creatures large and small struggle to adapt or face extinction.

It's still possible to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis, but we have to take immediate and bold action—as individuals, as communities, and as a society—to succeed. This is why Mass Audubon has recently developed an ambitious plan to achieve a net zero Massachusetts by 2050 while maintaining a livable landscape for all people and wildlife.

Working with community, corporate, and other nonprofit partners, we're implementing an organization-wide Climate Action Plan with solutions that build on our organizational strengths and leverage the strengths of others. For 124 years, Mass Audubon has protected the nature of Massachusetts through education, advocacy, and conservation. And now these three pillars will protect the nature and people of Massachusetts from the greatest impacts of climate change.

Students working on Action Plans at 2018 Youth Climate Summit © Phil Doyle
© Phil Doyle

Building a Corps of Climate Action Leaders

Passionate and committed people are at the heart of every successful movement. Today, Mass Audubon welcomes half a million people to our sanctuaries. We educate 250,000 via school programs, camps, preschools, and adult learning opportunities. And we have more than 135,000 members and supporters.

Our aim is to engage and inspire even more people to join the movement to fight a changing climate. We'll accomplish this by hosting more youth climate action and leadership programs; disseminating a new climate and civics education curriculum; providing climate action training for landowners, community leaders, and college students; and launching other initiatives that will build a large and active corps of climate action leaders at all ages.

2019 Youth Climate Strike in front of MA State House

Effecting Policy Change

Our founding mothers fought to ban the slaughter of birds for the sake of fashion, and we've been advocating for the environment ever since. With these deep roots in advocacy and recent climate legislation successes, including the passage of the Environmental Bond Bill in 2018, it's only natural that we'd want to build on this momentum.

In the coming years, we will increase our influence on Beacon and Capitol Hills via a new group of trained climate ambassadors, new and enhanced partnerships with environmental justice advocates fighting for frontline communities, and more collaborations with communities to implement nature-based solutions to mitigating and adapting to climate change.

Sunlight filtering through morning fog in trees © Audrey Preer
© Audrey Preer

Protecting & Stewarding the Most Important Land

One of the most effective, yet least touted, climate change solutions is the conservation of land. Protected land will absorb carbon, provide wildlife corridors as species migrate to more suitable climates, and minimize flooding on the coast and inland. With more than 38,000 acres of conserved land, Mass Audubon is the largest nonprofit landowner in Massachusetts. We are thus called to lead in protecting more land, stewarding it responsibly, and working with other landowners to do the same.

The new Climate Action Plan targets the conservation of at least 1,000 new acres of climate-significant land per year. With this goal in mind, we are initiating a statewide land campaign through which we’ll aspire to protect even more land that blunts the impacts of climate change and builds resilience across the landscape.

We're energized by this new vision to serve as a catalyst, take immediate action, and lead the fight with our many partners against the climate crisis. As a Mass Audubon member, we ask that you stand with us in supporting this work and encouraging others to get involved in creating a more sustainable planet for all.

Learn more about our new Climate Action Plan >