POWELL— On Friday, 24 members of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership (ACP) announced their first step in achieving their long-term goal of climate neutrality. Together, these institutions, including the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, will work together to leverage their outstanding legacy of leadership in conservation, science, communication, and education to realize climate solutions.
With a long-term goal of achieving climate neutrality, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officially signed the ACP Climate Commitment. The commitment includes completing a greenhouse gas emissions inventory, setting carbon neutrality goals and timelines, supporting strong climate change policies, and communicating our journey to achieve carbon neutrality with our guests and community. We will also develop and share strategies to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and remove greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. The target for accomplishing the goals is April 2024.
Climate change is the greatest threat to the future of our planet, our ocean and freshwater systems, and people. For decades, the global ocean has been taking the heat for climate change, absorbing more than 90% of the excess heat and nearly a third of the carbon dioxide generated by greenhouse gas emissions. The result is an ocean that is warmer, more acidic, starved of oxygen, and less habitable for fish and marine wildlife. The time for taking action is now. According to the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, while the rate of emissions growth has slowed, in 2010-2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history and without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius is beyond reach.
Participating in this climate commitment places the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium among the growing number of businesses and organizations demonstrating both an understanding of the climate crisis and a desire to be a part of the solution.
Annually, these aquariums welcome over 30 million visitors and contribute over $22.5 billion to the U.S. economy. These facilities currently run over 200 unique research conservation programs to understand the natural world and help develop solutions to environmental challenges, including climate change. The facilities’ ongoing commitment to expanding sustainable practices has already collectively eliminated over 1 million single-use plastic bottles from landfills since 2018.
“As leaders in conservation, aquariums are expected to walk their talk, and that’s exactly what this partnership is meant to do,” said Aquarium Conservation Partnership Executive Director Kim McIntyre. “We are uniquely qualified to set an example for others — in reducing our carbon footprint, encouraging sustainable operating practices, and inspiring hope in a public that is hungry to be part of the solution.”
“We are extremely proud to officially join our aquarium colleagues in expanding our active leadership role through this climate commitment and further contribute to solutions benefiting our planet. Starting this Earth Day and moving forward, this collaboration positions us to make an even bigger impact locally and globally while inspiring others to join us in these important efforts,” said Tom Schmid, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo Family of Parks.
Submitted by the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.