Climate Change is Threatening Michigan Birds, Strong Renewable Energy Policy is Needed 

Join Audubon Great Lakes as We Advocate for 100 Percent Renewable Energy in Michigan

Michigan is known for many things including its stunning natural landscapes, beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, picturesque winters, and a remarkable diversity of bird species. This season, hundreds of species of waterfowl, waterbirds, shorebirds, songbirds and raptors will pass through Michigan as they make their way to their winter homes. But as we look to the sky to celebrate and appreciate the birds we love; we must also acknowledge the serious threat of climate change 

No longer a distant concern, we’re seeing the impacts of climate change right here in Michigan, and our feathered friends are on the front lines. Scientific studies show that two-thirds of North American bird species are at-risk of extinction due to our warming planet.   

We know that warming temperatures are causing many birds to be pushed out of the habitats they need, while more frequent storm events are threatening birds’ nesting, food and breeding success. Because birds are highly sensitive to shifts in temperature and habitat, they provide us with critical insights into the state of our environment. By paying close attention to them, we can better understand the urgency of addressing climate change. 

An Opportunity for 100 Percent Renewable Energy in Michigan 

We must reduce the amount of greenhouse gases that we are putting into the air. In Michigan, that means transitioning our power sector to 100 percent renewable energy generation.  

The Michigan state legislature has introduced several climate-friendly bills, with SB 271, SB 273, and SB 502 receiving the most traction recently. As introduced, these bills, along with their counterparts in the House of Representatives, would set us on an ambitious path to 100% carbon-free energy by 2035 – an ambitious and achievable goal for Michigan. By accelerating the deployment of responsibly sited renewable energy sources, this legislation will help lessen the impacts of climate change to protect the places birds need. 

As we make this energy transition, we must ensure these bills focus on communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. Together these policies should:  

  • Allocate ten percent of renewable energy projects to front-line communities.  

  • Include robust community solar programs, which can help improve access to renewable energy for those who may not be able to install solar panels on their homes. These programs help to reduce pollution and help communities realize the economic and health benefits of renewable energy. 

  • Increase energy efficiency requirements to ensure electrical and gas providers reduce their energy use while lowering costs for consumers, and invest in weatherizing homes and business to reduce emissions. 

  • Ensure that the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) has the ability to regulate utilities for equity, health, affordability, and climate impacts while prioritizing front-line communities.  

  • Require renewable energy project developers to consult with state and federal wildlife agencies to avoid, minimize, and mitigate impacts to birds.   

Transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy is not just an environmental imperative; it's a lifeline for Michigan's birds. Responsibly sited renewable energy sources, like wind, solar, and geothermal offer a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, significantly reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change. 

By lending our voice at this critical moment, we can ensure that renewable energy projects are built in locations that minimize interference with bird habitat and migration routes and are carried out with an aim to avoid undue harm to wildlife. 

Join Us as We Advocate for Birds 

As the bills evolve and move through the legislative process, we’re meeting with legislators and following this issue closely. Last month we welcomed Representative Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), a sponsor of one of the climate-friendly bills in the House of Representatives, for a bird walk with Detroit Audubon to show her important places for birds in southeast Michigan, and thank her for her support of a carbon-free future for Michigan. And we recently submitted written testimony to inform climate policies to the Michigan Senate and we will be taking action as these bills make their way through the Assembly. 

You can join us on September 26 as we gather at the Michigan State Capitol to advocate for these important policies as part of the Michigan Energy, Michigan Jobs (MEMJ) Coalition’s MI Clean Energy Future Day of Action. Reach out to Audubon Great Lakes ( if you’re interested in meeting with legislators to advocate for meaningful policies that will help the state to address climate change.  

Stay tuned for more ways to take action as we work to ensure that the strongest possible climate policy is passed to protect birds in Michigan and beyond. You can also join us in this work by becoming a Great Lakes climate advocate! Sign up today and we’ll let you know how you can raise your voice to help Michigan’s birds. 

How you can help, right now