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Shedd Joins Nation’s Leading Aquariums to Tackle Climate Change

24 Aquariums Pledge to Address Greenhouse Gas Emissions

April 22, 2022

A flowering tree accentuates the bold columns and stonework of the facade of the Shedd Aquarium.

Today, Shedd Aquarium and 23 members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership announced their first step in achieving their long-term goal of climate neutrality. Together, these institutions will work to leverage their outstanding legacy of leadership in conservation, science, communication, and education to realize climate solutions. 

With a long-term goal of achieving climate neutrality, together, by April 2024 or sooner, we will:

  • Complete initial greenhouse gas inventories 
  • Measure and report greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Develop an emissions reduction plan and timeline 
  • Determine carbon neutrality goals and timelines 
  • Identify, share and implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from operations and remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere 
  • Support nature-based solutions in international, federal and state climate change policies 
  • Communicate the journey to achieve carbon neutrality with audiences   

Climate change is the greatest threat to the future of our planet, our ocean and freshwater systems, and people. For decades, the global ocean has been taking the heat for climate change, absorbing more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly a third of the carbon dioxide generated by greenhouse gas emissions. The result is an ocean that is warmer, more acidic, starved of oxygen, and less habitable for fish and marine wildlife. The time for taking action is now. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, while the rate of emissions growth has slowed, in 2010-2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. 

Participating in this climate commitment places like Shedd Aquarium are among the growing number of businesses and organizations demonstrating both an understanding of the climate crisis and a desire to be a part of the solution, which perfectly aligns with the 2022 Earth Day theme: Invest in our Planet.

Annually, these aquariums welcome over 30 million visitors and contribute over $22.5 billion to the U.S. economy. These facilities currently run over 200 unique research conservation programs to understand the natural world and help develop solutions to environmental challenges, including climate change. The aquariums’ ongoing commitment to expanding sustainable practices has already collectively eliminated over 1 million single-use plastic bottles from landfills since 2018. 

“As leaders in conservation, aquariums are expected to walk their talk, and that’s exactly what this partnership is meant to do,” said Aquarium Conservation Partnership Executive Director Kim McIntyre. “We are uniquely qualified to set an example for others—in reducing our carbon footprint, encouraging sustainable operating practices, and inspiring hope in a public that is hungry to be part of the solution.” 

“This commitment to advance blue economy solutions that are aimed at addressing climate change within our business operations is a natural extension of our research, education, conservation policy and advocacy efforts for a healthy blue planet,” said Andrea Densham, senior director of government affairs and conservation policy at Shedd Aquarium. “As part of an alliance of aquariums which has built a strategic table for aquariums to advance policy goals, action and leverage our collective impact on issues from biodiversity crisis to climate change.”