Louisiana’s Future Depends on Reducing Carbon Emissions and Building Climate Resilience
Governor’s executive orders establish task force to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to develop resilience strategies across all sectors of state government
(NEW ORLEANS – August 19, 2020) Earlier today, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed two executive orders that will have significant impacts in addressing the state’s climate and land loss crises.
The first executive order establishes a Climate Initiatives Task Force charged with developing recommendations for how Louisiana can reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to help reduce rates of sea level rise and coastal land loss. The order sets targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 28% by 2025, up to 50% by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Without action, Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan indicates the state could lose an additional 2,250 to 4,120 square miles of coastal land over the next 50 years. The extent of land loss is primarily based on rates of sea level rise that are directly influenced by rates of global greenhouse gas emissions.
“Today, Louisiana sent a clear signal by adding its efforts to the global emissions reductions that are needed for a secure, resilient future for the state,” said Steve Cochran, campaign director for Restore the Mississippi River Delta. “Our future does not need to be held hostage by sea level rise and climate change.”
“To ensure a future for our coast, home to more than 2 million people and an unparalleled bounty of wildlife , we must start limiting carbon in the atmosphere quickly, or rising seas will overwhelm whatever progress we make,” said David Muth, director of Gulf Restoration with the National Wildlife Federation. “Having shown leadership in developing a world class adaptation strategy with the Coastal Master Plan, it is important that Louisiana show leadership on emissions.”
“We have a window of opportunity to act if we are to save Louisiana’s coast for future generations” said Brian Moore, vice president of gulf policy at National Audubon Society. “To take advantage of that window, it is vital that all parties come together to meet the targets set by the Governor.”
The second executive order establishes the role of Chief Resilience Officer within the Office of the Governor and requires most state agencies to establish resilience coordinators within their departments and to incorporate resilience into their operations and strategic planning. Those strategic plans will become part of the State’s Coastal Master Plan.
“No part of state government is immune to the impacts of land loss and climate change, so all agencies must develop meaningful resilience strategies to keep people safe and infrastructure secure,” said Natalie Snider, senior director of coastal resilience at Environmental Defense Fund “While limiting sea level rise is essential, we must also act quickly as a state to adapt to the changes already occurring across the coast.”
“Through its Coastal Master Plan, Louisiana has set the standard for how to execute large-scale coastal restoration and protection, and we’re pleased to see the Governor recognize the importance of having a unified approach to implementing the master plan and building resilience across all sectors of state government,“ said Kimberly Davis Reyher, executive director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.
“Louisiana is already a global model for coastal resilience planning and governance through its Coastal Master Plan. We now have an opportunity to also lead on climate mitigation as an energy-producing state,” said John Lopez, director of coast and community program at Pontchartrain Conservancy.
Jacques Hebert, Environmental Defense Fund, 504.250.3699, firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Bourg, National Audubon Society, 225.776.9838, email@example.com
Amanda Moore, National Wildlife Federation, 504.442.2702, firstname.lastname@example.org
James Karst, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, 504.220.7899, email@example.com
John Lopez, Pontchartrain Conservancy, 504.421.7348, firstname.lastname@example.org
About Restore the Mississippi River Delta:
Restore the Mississippi River Delta is working to protect people, wildlife and jobs by reconnecting the river with its wetlands. As our region faces the crisis of threatening land loss, we offer science-based solutions through a comprehensive approach to restoration. Composed of conservation, policy, science and outreach experts from Environmental Defense Fund, National Audubon Society, the National Wildlife Federation, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Pontchartrain Conservancy, we are located in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Washington, D.C.; and around the United States. Learn more at MississippiRiverDelta.org and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.