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April 22, 2024

Statement of ABA President Mary Smith Re: Earth Day

CHICAGO, April 22, 2024 — The American Bar Association joins with the world community in celebrating Earth Day as we work together toward environmental conservation and sustainability to create a healthier planet.

Lawyers have long been involved in the modern environmental movement, from helping to draft laws such as the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. This work has never been more urgent. Climate change is an existential threat to our world and one of the greatest challenges of our time.

As we work to protect the environment and aim toward net-zero emissions, lawyers will continue to play a pivotal role in shaping laws to reduce carbon pollution, promote clean energy and mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions.

In 2021, John Kerry, the former Secretary of State and the first United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, addressed the ABA during our Annual Meeting, declaring, “You are all climate lawyers now, whether you want to be or not.” He continued: “Facts, evidence and science all make clear that we have a narrow window to avoid the worst consequences of this crisis, and there is a place for lawyers to help hold back the tide and create new pathways.”

The ABA has long been engaged in helping to protect the environment. In 2019, the ABA adopted a resolution recommending a transition to net-zero emissions and encouraging lawyers to counsel clients on the risks and opportunities of climate change. In furtherance of combating environmental injustice — the disparate adverse effects of environmental policies on communities of color, Indigenous communities and low-income communities — the ABA adopted a 2021 policy to advance environmental justice principles in its programs, policies and activities, and to advocate for environmental justice legislation and policy. The ABA Section of Environment, Energy, and Resources fosters the success of a diverse community of environmental, energy and resources lawyers that provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information that helps them work towards balancing environmental protections with society’s needs for energy and commerce.

As we celebrate Earth Day, it is important to reflect on the importance of protecting our planet and natural resources. Together, we can create a more sustainable, equitable and habitable world, not only for today but for future generations.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on X (formerly Twitter) @ABANews.