Addressing the Climate Crisis

This tropical rainforest in Aceh province on the northern tip of Sumatra island Indonesia is home to diminishing numbers of tigers, orangutan, elephants and rhinoceroses. This August 2010 photo shows a recently cleared portion of rainforest in rugged terrain being converted to a vegetable garden. Burnt logs are still lying where they fell after being chopped down. The loss of rainforest cover will accelerate soil erosion further compounding damage to the fragile habitat.
Credit: Getty Images

Amplifying Voices and Prioritizing Needs

The climate crisis threatens wildlife and people alike. Throughout 2022 we saw climate-fueled hurricanes, floods, fires, heatwaves, and other unnatural disasters underscore how this global crisis and its local impacts touch every facet of our lives.

The National Wildlife Federation has been a leading voice for working with nature to conserve and restore our lands and waters, naturally sequester carbon, create good-paying jobs, and help wildlife thrive for future generations. These efforts include advocating for clean energy and industrial decarbonization. We believe these green business practices put America on track to combat the climate crisis and protect climate-vulnerable communities across the country.

Perhaps the most common thread across the work done to address the climate crisis is that we do it through an environmental justice lens to amplify the voices and prioritize the needs of the communities which we serve in our work at the federal level. The solutions we work to develop must include everyone if the implementation of these historic provisions is to be just and equitable.

Dr. Simone Stewart

One of the ways in which we have worked to address the climate crisis was our advocacy work for various provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act. This effort included participation in coalitions with other environmental nongovernmental organizations and industry leaders. These coalitions helped to educate the public and Congressional leaders on the more technical aspects of the bill and to highlight benefits the bill could provide for the transition to a clean energy economy.

Inflation Reduction Act secures critical climate action programs
Group of young Navajo Siblings Riding Their horses Bareback through the vast desert in Northern Arizona near the Monument Valley Tribal park on the Navajo Indian Reservation at Dusk
Credit: iStock
Two sisters run happily on a rugged rock landscape in Western Colorado near Fruita.
Credit: iStock
Creating Awareness About Oil and Gas Accountability

HECHO launched an ad campaign calling for greater accountability among oil and gas producers and for the reform of the outdated federal land leasing system. This campaign ran in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. As a result, the Inflation Reduction Act included provisions that raised the royalty fees, rental rates, and other licensing costs paid by the oil and gas industry. The Act also eliminated noncompetitive leasing. HECHO’s goal was to ensure all communities have access to public lands to enjoy camping, hunting, fishing, and hiking with their families.

Photo Credit: iStock

Father and sons sit outside a tent by a campfire in the wilderness.
Guidance to Best Practices in Natural Infrastructure and Flood Buyout Programs

The Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act of 2021 provided a significant increase in federal funding for programs that support flood buyouts and natural infrastructure to protect watersheds. We spearheaded a research project to learn how these projects and policies can promote equitable outcomes, especially within low-income communities and communities of color within the Mississippi River watershed. The resulting memo details best practices, case studies, and recommendations that practitioners can consider when planning, implementing, and/or maintaining natural infrastructure and flood buyout projects and policies. As the memo notes, past projects often contributed to systemic inequality. By using the memo and accompanying bibliography as a resource guide, advocates, funders, and practitioners can work more effectively to promote equity in natural infrastructure and buyout projects and policies. Though focused on the Mississippi River watershed, the recommendations highlighted in the memo have far-reaching implications not only for other watersheds, but also for community-centered conservation work as a whole.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Clear View of the Mississippi River Basin.
The Federation’s Role in Passing Climate Change Legislation

Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 included provisions that take immediate action on the climate crisis, making it the most significant climate legislation in decades. The law provided, among other conversation programs, funding for protection and restoration of coastal and marine habitats, programs to reduce emissions and greenhouse gasses, and recovery plans to support endangered species.  The Federation is proud to have worked with legislators and well-known economists to ensure the Act included these critical programs to protect our planet, people, and wildlife.

Photo Credit: Amanda Moore

Mississippi River rock dam
Advocating for Restrictions on Global Deforestation in the EU

Global deforestation is a major contributor to climate change, and commodity agriculture is also linked to human rights abuses, forced labor, land grabbing, and encroachment onto Indigenous territories. Ahead of a critical vote in the European Union (EU) on proposed deforestation-free products regulation, we partnered with other groups to develop policy briefs that made strong recommendations on reducing deforestation. These briefs were sent to key stakeholders. On December 6th, 2022, the European Parliament and Council reached a provisional agreement on the regulation to ensure products on the EU market do not contribute to global deforestation and forest degradation. Once formally enacted, the regulation will require companies to verify that goods sold in the EU are deforestation- and conversion-free, are produced in accordance with human rights laws, and respect the right of Indigenous peoples.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Orangutan with baby on a tree branch in thick forest