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Newsom Launches Land, Water Conservation Initiative To Fight Climate Change, Restore Biodiversity

WINTERS, Yolo County (CBS SF) -- Building on a series of actions to combat climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced an executive order to preserve 30% of the state's land and coastal waters by 2030 as part of an international effort to expand and restore the planet's biodiversity.

Newsom's order directs the state's Natural Resources Agency to create a plan to achieve the goal by Feb. 1, 2022. The plan must include safeguards for the state's economy and agriculture industry, along with strategies for remove carbon from the atmosphere through the planting of trees and cover crops, restoring wetlands, and creating parks in urban areas. It would also include more actively managing forests to reduce wildfire risk.

The governor made the announcement and signed the order during a press conference Wednesday at Sierra Orchards in Winters, which uses organic and sustainable farming to produce mostly walnuts and olive oil.

"We're here with purpose and intention to build on California's legacy on open space, to build on California's legacy for environmental stewardship, to build on California's leadership as it relates to biodiversity and conservation," said Newsom.

With the order, California joins 38 countries now supporting a global effort supported by the United Nations, the International Chamber of Commerce, and other groups to achieve protection for 30 percent of the planet by 2030. Currently, it's estimated about 15% of the Earth's land and 7% of its oceans are protected in parks, preserves and other areas.

"30 by 2030 is the mandated goal. We'll be the first state in the United States of America to do both land conservation and coastal conservation," said Newsom. "California, as the fifth largest economy in the world, needs to flex its muscles. It needs to assert itself and advance that cause."
The governor's office cited a recent report from the World Economic Forum which calculated that $44 trillion of economic value generation – over half the world's total GDP – is potentially at risk as a result of climate change and the dependence of business on nature and its services.
"California's beautiful natural and working lands are an important tool to help slow and avert catastrophic climate change, and today's executive order provides important new tools to take on this existential threat," Newsom said in a statement.
The order is one of several climate change actions taken by the governor in recent days. Last month, Newson signed an executive order mandating that all new passenger cars and trucks sold in the state must be emission-free by 2035. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has already publicly challenged Newsom on whether the order is legal.

Newsom has also called on the California legislature to ban oil and gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which is blamed for polluting local water sources and emitting greenhouse gases.

"The Governor's continued action on climate change so soon after last month's Executive Order is very encouraging" said Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters in a prepared statement. "We have to lean into the powerful solutions that nature provides if we are going to combat the climate crisis. The Governor's action today is a significant down payment towards a better future for Californians."


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