California has joined dozens of nations in a global pact to preserve biodiversity and prevent species loss by pledging to conserve 30 percent of the state’s land and coastal water by 2030 (“30 by 30”). Governor Gavin Newsom signed the executive order earlier this month, which also directs the state to streamline approval of land restoration projects, protect native plants and animals from invasive species, and reinvigorate the population of pollinating insects in California. Finally, several agencies are directed to develop policies to capture more carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the state’s natural and working lands such as forests, rangeland, farms, wetlands and coasts. These strategies, intended to help California reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2045, could include planting cover crops, restoring wetlands, managing forests more actively to reduce wildfire risk, and planting trees and creating parks in urban areas.
30 by 30 has been championed internationally and is supported by the United Nations. However, the Senate Republican Caucus called Newsom’s order an “overreach.” This follows Newsom’s historic executive order to require that, by 2035, all new passenger vehicles sold in California be “zero-emission.” Both the electric car and the 30 by 30 orders will likely face uphill climbs, but are important and ambitious actions in California’s fight against climate change.