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International Environmental Law Project (IELP)

IELP co-authors “CITES and Climate Change: A Need for Integration”

April 26, 2012

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We know that climate change affects species worldwide. In fact, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment suggests that climate change is one of the primary drivers of ecosystem change and thus biodiversity loss. The range of ways that climate change can affect species is diverse: climate change affects ambient ocean temperatures, the rate of ice loss, ocean circulation, stream-flow quantity, migration patterns, and woody plant density, among other things. Each of this, in turn, can directly impact reproduction rates, growth rates, sex distribution, food cycles and myriad other factors that affect the viability of species.  

Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) need to account for these impacts as they make decisions regarding appropriate levels of international trade in species listed under the Convention. These decisions include making “non-detriment findings”—which help determine whether trade is sustainable—and listing species, as well as defining appropriate export quotas and reviewing trade in particular species that may not be traded sustainably.  IELP, working with partner organizations International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council, Animal Welfare Institute, and Defenders of Wildlife, have urged the CITES Parties to regularly take climate change into account when making science-based decisions the auspices of the Convention.  We are hopeful that the Parties understand the very real consequences for species in the face of climate change and take appropriately precautionary decisions, reflecting the best interests of species and their survival. As part of this effort, IELP and its partner organizations produced a guide for Parties entitled CITES and Climate Change: A Need for Integration.  In the run-up to the next major CITES meeting in March of 2013, we will be working to ensure that Parties understand how to consider climate change impacts in CITES decision-making. 

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International Environmental Law Project (IELP)

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