Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Stop the Killing of More Than 500 Polar Bears Each Year from International Trade in Fur and Parts

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Andrew Wetzler

Now that the world’s delegates have returned home from climate negotiations in Doha, many ministries are turning their attention to other international environmental agreements—and the consequences of climate change that echo in their implementation. One of those agreements is CITES—the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. For the second time in three years, the U.S., now supported by the Russian Federation, has proposed ending the international trade in polar bear fur and parts. This trade, fueled by soaring prices and fed solely by Canada, contributes to the killing of 500 to 600 polar bears every year, provides cover for poaching in Russia and has resulted in an unsustainable hunt for many polar bear populations.

Isn’t the biggest danger to polar bears climate change? Of course it is. In fact, it is because of climate change that we need to give polar bears the best possible chance they have to survive climate change through the end of this century, by which time humanity will hopefully been able to stabilize the atmosphere.

That’s why the U.S. proposal is so important. While climate change is threatening polar bears across the Arctic, we need to adopt policies to keep their populations as robust and healthy as possible. The most obvious way to do this is to address the second biggest threat to polar bears: the fur trade.  That means stopping other sources of mortality (like unsustainable hunting) that can drive polar bear populations down. 

The fate of the U.S. proposal largely lies in the hands of the European Union. As a block that controls dozens of votes at the rapidly approaching CITES meeting, Europe can swing what animals get protected—and those that are left behind. Our sources tell us that Europe’s position remains in flux with many European countries sitting on the fence. 

Will Europe stand up and help the U.S. and Russia end international trafficking in their parts? The next few weeks will decide that question and, with it, the fate of hundreds of polar bears.

Many countries are still upset that the U.S. Congress never ratified the Kyoto Protocols, resentment that Canada is trying to exploit as it defends its polar bear hunt. But that sad fact shouldn’t be used to distract us from what we can do for polar bears today and other animals endangered by climate change. Nor should it distract us from a few other facts: in the last year the U.S. has moved aggressively to regulate the biggest source of global warming, carbon dioxide, through domestic law. Between those regulations and a shift to lower-carbon fuels, the U.S. has substantially reduced it emissions of climate change gasses. In 2011, U.S. emissions of energy-related carbon dioxide were 8.7 percent below 2005 levels. By contrast, since 2005 Canada has walked away from the Kyoto Protocol and invested heavily in polluting tar sands oil fields.

Polar bears need our help. Will Europe be there for them?

 

Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY pages for more related news on this topic.

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases speaks in the Rose Garden for the daily coronavirus briefing at the White House on March 29 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

Just over a month after proclaiming that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. would soon "be down to close to zero," President Donald Trump said during a press briefing on the White House lawn Sunday that limiting U.S. deaths from the pandemic to between 100,000 and 200,000 people would mean his administration and the country as a whole did "a very good job."

Read More Show Less
Dicamba is having a devastating impact in Arkansas and neighboring states. A farmer in Mississippi County, Arkansas looks at rows of soybean plants affected by dicamba. The Washington Post / Getty Images

Documents unearthed in a lawsuit brought by a Missouri farmer who claimed that Monsanto and German chemical maker BASF's dicamba herbicide ruined his peach orchard revealed that the two companies knew their new agricultural seed and chemical system would likely damage many U.S. farms, according to documents seen by The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and other leaders speak to the press on March 28, 2020 in Seattle. Karen Ducey / Getty Images

Washington State has seen a slowdown in the infection rate of the novel coronavirus, for now, suggesting that early containment strategies have been effective, according to the Seattle NBC News affiliate.

Read More Show Less
A bushfire burns outside the Perth Cricket Stadium in Perth, Australia on Dec. 13, 2019. PETER PARKS / AFP via Getty Images

By Albert Van Dijk, Luigi Renzullo, Marta Yebra and Shoshana Rapley

2019 was the year Australians confronted the fact that a healthy environment is more than just a pretty waterfall in a national park; a nice extra we can do without. We do not survive without air to breathe, water to drink, soil to grow food and weather we can cope with.

Read More Show Less

By Fino Menezes

Everyone adores dolphins. Intelligent, inquisitive and playful, these special creatures have captivated humans since the dawn of time. But dolphins didn't get to where they are by accident — they needed to develop some pretty amazing superpowers to cope with their environment.

Read More Show Less