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United States Aquariums Support National Action on Climate

January 28, 2021

A dense school of slim-bodied jack mackerel swims among the vertical, leafy stalks of kelp in Shedd's Kelp Forest exhibit.

As the nation’s leading aquariums committed to ocean and freshwater conservation, we fully support the Biden-Harris administration’s bold actions to assert U.S. leadership in the fight against global climate change.

We celebrate today’s clear mandate for a government-wide approach to addressing the climate crisis that focuses on scientific integrity, environmental justice and job creation. Through actions like joining the Paris Agreement, initiating the rollback of environmentally damaging federal regulations of the past four years and setting a goal to conserve 30 percent of federal land and waters by 2030 with strong stakeholder engagement, the Biden-Harris administration is setting a course for our nation that acknowledges the role that a healthy ocean, lakes and rivers play in addressing the climate crisis and increasing our national prosperity.

We recognize that climate change is the greatest threat to the future of our planet, of people and of our ocean and freshwater systems. For the well-being of people and all life on Earth, we must take immediate and significant action to address the climate crisis. Climate action can produce local economic benefits, generate new jobs, restore public lands and waters and engage current and future generations to help rebuild our infrastructure and create a clean-energy future. We must also ensure that communities bearing the brunt of climate impacts are fully involved in designing equitable strategies for a path forward.

To fight climate change, we need a healthy ocean. Our ocean has already absorbed 25 percent of the carbon dioxide generated by human activities, and more than 90 percent of the excess heat. But these services have come at a tremendous cost. By altering the chemistry and temperature of the ocean, we have put marine ecosystems and wildlife at increasing risk. The life-giving benefits we derive from ocean and freshwater systems — including food and water, transportation, defense, tourism and other enterprises — underpin our global prosperity.

Our ocean, lakes and rivers are also sources of climate solutions. Together, we can build resilience to the impacts of climate change by restoring and conserving natural habitats, curbing pollution and managing fisheries and other natural resources in sustainable ways. We also can protect and restore our tidal marshes, seagrasses, wetlands and mangroves that sequester atmospheric carbon and develop new offshore sources of renewable energy in an environmentally responsible way.

Our aquariums, which make up the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, play unique and powerful roles in promoting climate solutions. We are trusted science-based communicators, conservation stewards and local business leaders. We are committed to working with our communities, government leaders, business partners and public audiences to meet these challenges and accelerate the pace of progress for our planet.

We are eager to work with the Biden-Harris administration, Congress and other leaders across the country to step up efforts to protect the nation’s invaluable ocean and freshwater resources, strengthen the resilience of our communities and accelerate solutions to the climate crisis.

Bridget C. Coughlin, PhD
President and CEO, John G. Shedd Aquarium

Dr. Peter Kareiva
CEO, Aquarium of the Pacific

Ron Forman
President and CEO, Audubon Nature Institute of New Orleans

Scott D. Sampson, Ph. D.
Executive Director, William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair
California Academy of Sciences

Jason Patlis
President & CEO, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk

Julie Packard
Executive Director, Monterey Bay Aquarium

Stephen Coan
President & CEO, Mystic Aquarium

John Racanelli
CEO, National Aquarium

Kurt Strand
President & CEO, The National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium

Maylon White
Division Director, North Carolina Aquariums

Vikki Spruill
President & CEO, New England Aquarium

Dennis Pate
CEO, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

Alan Varsik
Director, Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Carrie Lewis
President and CEO, Oregon Coast Aquarium

Robert Davidson
CEO, Seattle Aquarium

Kevin Mills
President and CEO, South Carolina Aquarium

Keith Sanford
President and CEO, Tennessee Aquarium

Roger Germann
President/CEO, The Florida Aquarium

Cynthia Whitbred-Spanoulis
Executive Director, Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center

John F. Calvelli
Executive Vice President, Government Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society