The Adirondacks at COP28

By Aaron Mair - Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director
Tuesday, December 19, 2023

In 2021, the Adirondack Council launched its Forever Adirondacks Campaign to build a regional coalition of partners to act at the state and national level to advocate on behalf of protecting the iconic Adirondack region, a true gem nestled in the heart of New York State. Nature lovers and adventure seekers worldwide have long cherished this enchanting destination with its majestic mountains, glimmering lakes, and vast wilderness areas.

At 1.2 million acres of designated wilderness, the Adirondacks are the largest state-owned wilderness carbon sequestration ecosystem in the U.S." Death Valley Wilderness, Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness, Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, and Margory Stoneman Douglas Wilderness, all federal, are all larger wilderness designations since only 1.2 million acres of the Park are true wilderness areas. However, when looking at state-owned, New York has the most acreage, even counting Alaska

But beneath its tranquil beauty lies a deep concern – the impact of climate change on this delicate ecosystem. Just before Thanksgiving, our planet exceeded the global warming milestone of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 F) above pre-industrial levels for the first time in recorded history, said Samantha Burgess, the deputy director of Copernicus Climate Change Service. The last time the earth was this warm is estimated to be over 11,000 years ago. While we marvel at, enjoy, and cherish this unique ecosystem, we must now focus on the science that suggests that large-scale wilderness ecosystems (like the Adirondacks) are a critical frontline national carbon sequestration asset. At over six-million acres, the Adirondacks are our nation’s largest wilderness carbon sequestration ecosystem in the lower 48 states.

In recent years, the effects of global warming have become increasingly evident in the Adirondack Park. Rising temperatures, erratic weather patterns, and shrinking snow and ice cover are just some of the alarming signs that cannot be ignored. The urgency to address these issues has given rise to an array of efforts and programs to combat climate change and preserve this precious landscape for future generations. The Adirondack Council and The Wild Center were a unified presence at the United Nations 28th Climate Change Conference – COP28 - in the United Arab Emirates, where we advocated for investing in large-scale ecosystems, like the Adirondacks, to scale up the science of climate protection. These investments can potentially create a new green economy in wilderness protection that means more than just jobs.

From exploring ongoing global initiatives to highlighting challenges faced by local communities, we sought partners and knowledge on how Adirondack residents and New Yorkers are banding together to tackle this pressing issue of protection head-on. Together, we envision a sustainable future for the Adirondacks –where wilderness carbon sinks serve as critical climate sequestration infrastructure

So tighten your hiking boots because you’ll hear more about how the Adirondacks were represented at COP28.

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