Warsaw, Wildlife, and Greenpeace

The trip has cIMG_2014ome to an end. And what an experience it was. During the 12-14 hour days, it felt like it was going on forever, but at the end of theIMG_2023 week I was questioning where my week had gone. Some of the highlights included getting 2 feet away from Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, walking around Old Town, hearing the inspiring words of Christiana Figueres, working with my great NGO, Wildlife Conservation Society, actually seeing the international process at work, and getting to know my fellow VLS delegates better.

My biggest disappointment was the lack of discussion throughout the week on my chosen topic: wildlife, endangered species, and biodiversity. While I tried to tailor each of my posts to my topic and analyze each side event to figure out its indirect link to the conservation of species, I noticed that the topic was rarely, if ever, discussed. Biodiversity and ecosystems where mentioned broadly here and there (most notably in the ocean acidification and REDD+ side events I attended), but for the most part, I heard nothing on how climate change is adversely impacting CITES-logo-high-resolution-300x171species. I am aware that the UN has other treaties, such as the Convention on Biodiversity and CITES, but knowing what I know about how climate change is affecting species, I would have thought at least one side event would have had that focus. This became particularly more puzzling to me when I learned more than one wildlife conservation group attended the CoP. While I realize that most people place a higher value on the plights of the human race when it comes to climate change, the importance of conserving biodiversity cannot be overlooked. As the Lion King says: “we are all connected in the great circle of life.”

On my last night in Poland, Heather, Lindsay, and I had the unique experience of attending a Greenpeace party. Greenpeace gave a recap of of their 2 weeks at the CoP. They had some exciting protests against cop19_greenpeace_670pcPoland’s reliance on coal and unveiled brilliant t-shirts: a play on the Godfather – the “coalfather.” I, not for lack of want, did not get lucky enoughBZboykZCIAANefn.jpg_large to secure one. There were also several demonstrations on the Arctic 30. Greenpeace is currently on a campaign to free the arctic 30; 30 peaceful activists from around the world who boarded the Arctic Sunrise in an attempt to board a Russian oil rig in protest of reliance on fossil fuels and to try and stop the drilling. The Russian authorities took control of the Arctic Sunrise and the arctic 30, who are now detained in Russia for piracy and hooliganism. Their call: “Free the Arctic 30.”

190010eb-f999-4d88-990c-f46dd6596ee8.fileGreenpeace in Greenland

Overall, I am thankful for this cultural and learning experience.

 

 

 


Education: Planting the Seeds of Change

If you don’t change attitudes and behaviors and teach people what climate change is all about, we will keep having CoPs, but nothing will ever change. Education and training is the critical element to move action on climate change forward.

-Veerle Vandeweerd, Director, UNDP Environment and Energy Group

Education is key. It is a critical aspect of both adaption to and mitigation of climate change. While it alone is not enough to conquer this oncoming threat, it is a very important element of our fight.

The UN program UN CC: Learn is a program that invests is people and learning. It is a collaboration to photo-3strengthen human resources, learning and skill development. The idea behind the program is that when individual skills are lacking, goals and ambitions are greatly unobtainable. But in order to develop the skills needed, skill development needs to be systematic (not piece-meal), country-driven, and results-oriented.

UN CC: Learn was launched in Copenhagen (2009) and is a collaborative initiative involving 33 multilateral organizations and 5 countries (Dominican Republic, Uganda, Indonesia, Malawi, and Benin). The program supports countries to design and implement country learning on climate change, contributing to the implementation of Article 6 of the UNFCCC, which concerns raising public awareness, education, and training.

When developing national strategies, countries, with the help of UNITAR (UN Institute for Training and Research), the implementing body, assess existing individual skills against national policy priorities to build gap analysis and create priority needs (this helps create actions to strengthen learning and skills development). The plans then build on existing learning systems and promote both formal and informal (outside of the classroom) learning. The plans seek to strengthen national education and training systems to deliver learning actions on climate change. Government participation is also crucial; many of these plans are integrated into existing national climate change policies.

The five countries that have already developed national learning strategies have had much success:

Malawi: Malawimalawi-flag is implementing its program through existing government structures, such as the National Climate Change Steering Committee and the National Climate Change Technical Committee. Highlights of their program are national planning workshops and an education poster on climate change campaign nation-wide. Malawi’s program has also had a major focus on gender; educating women and getting more women involved in major decision-making, like at the government level.

FlagbigIndonesia: Indonesia’s program is being implemented through their National Council on Climate Change. Highlights of their program include workshops and a UN CC: Learn @ Carbon Update. Indonesia developed three high priorities for their program: training, education, and public awareness. The training program emphasized improving human capacity and institutional capacity. The education program seeks to improve the curriculum by inserting climate change into education at all levels and improving learning materials. The government has tried to mainstream learning about climate change from primary school through higher education in order to facilitate learning. Public awareness is challenging, but imperative. Indonesia is trying to spread information as wide as possible to stakeholders and is trying to engaging the targeted audience (fisherman and farmers).

beninBenin: Benin’s program is still in the development stage, as the most recent country to create a UN CC: Learn program. It is being coordinated through their National Steering Committee, under the head of the National Climate Change Committee. Highlights of their program include workshops, creating a background report, and assessing learning needs and delivery capacities. Benin recognizes that education is needed across many sectors – coastal, forestry, agriculture, energy, etc.

indexDominican Republic: The Dominican Republic had the first program under UN CC: Learn and it has been very successful. It is implemented by the National Council on Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanisms. Highlights of the Dominican Republic’s program are workshops, press conferences at CoPs, assessing learning needs and delivery capacities, and their national training program for teachers on climate change.  This program has trained over 400 teachers to help teach students about climate change and sustainable development, believing the best way to approach the issue is through education. The program also encourages participation outside of the classroom.

ugandaUganda: Uganda’s program falls under the Climate Change Policy Committee. Highlights include workshops, background reports, and assessing learning and delivery needs. During this side event presentation, the Minister for Uganda praised this program, stating: For you to act, you need knowledge, and for that we had to go through the process of identifying and analyzing information and gaps to build a learning program. Important to show commonness and support from government and policy. It is important for all to be united against the danger and risks of climate change. Our greatest challenge is the mindset – how it is perceived across many sectors and disciplines – so it is important to grow-up knowing about it and take that information with you into your sector.

The Uganda Minister said it well – in order to act, you first need to know. Education is half the battle. This should be quite clear in the climate change policy debates that are currently happening in the U.S. Senators have gone on records as recently as two months ago arguing against the science of climate change. With attitudes such as this, people are getting mixed messages and are not getting the education needed. This prevents our government from taking action to fight against climate change.

Finally, as my focus is wildlife and biodiversity, it would be remiss of me to end without stating that educating our children (and the public in general) about the benefits of biodiversity through campaigns like UN CC: Learn would be beneficial. I often hear animal lovers tell the story that, without fighting climate change, our children will not get to see and experience many of earth’s beautiful creatures. This is true and I think it is so much easier to educate children on the importance of preserving our wildlife. After all, animals are cute! Incorporating the teaching and training of how to conserve habitats and species should be integral to UN CC: Learn initiatives. Besides, who doesn’t love watching panda cam?


Vegetarianism: Is This Global Justice?

I am a vegetarian. I have been for almost 9 years and, honestly, I don’t miss meat (but, tochicken_rows_small be fair, I was such a picky eater before I made the switch, I pretty much just gave up chicken). I decided to become a vegetarian as a personal choice; a personal stand against the injustices I believe that animals face in our meat production and agricultural industry. But yesterday, during a side event I attended on Global Justice, Equity and Sustainability, my ears perked when one speaker said that vegetarianism was part of global justice.

What is global justice? To panelist, Prince Goodluck Obi, global justice means the defense of youth and domestic relations; working for youth and getting youth included in climate change projects. Look at justice, equity and sustainability with respect to young people and their rights within the system. Mr. Goodluck pointed out that 1.2 billion young people from Africa were not represented at Doha because they were denied visas. Their voices are not being heard and they are the future. Global justice can include the right to development. It can include gender and equity are related issues and all human rights.

Another speaker, Mithika Mwenda, stated climate justice is part of global justice. He used the example of climate change in Africa by showing a man on top of hut because of floods. He had climbed up on his roof to survive. Mr. Mwenda said: This is climate justice – if you are not strong enough to climb on your hut, you die. He encouraged us to look at moral reasons of fighting climate change and urged the broadening of people’s participation  and the need for multilateralism so poorer countries can have a voice. He stated: climate justice means that international negotiations should include all voices equally – even the poor – and the richest countries have contributed more to the problem, but is affects the poor countries more, so, since the rich countries possess the knowledge, technology, and wealth to fix this problem, they have a moral obligation to help.

Global justice can also mean living a “green’ lifestyle and improving access to renewable forms of energy to the people of the world. Joachim Golo Pitz from the Brahma Kumaris Environment Institute has been working on the India-One project that delivers renewable energy plants to India. Mr. Golo Pitz was also the speaker that stated global justice means adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. He was later asked a question about  this statement and replied: the science is there; switching to a vegetarian lifestyle has been shown to be more environmentally friendly.

This statement intrigued me. I, obviously, believe that “going veg” benefits animals and I have heard (and believe) the argument that adopting a vegetarian lifestyle lowers greenhouse gases, but I wanted to learn more. According to PETA (not the most unbiased source, I know!), “51 percent or more of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture.” That same PETA article asserts that the UN has also stated that “a global shift toward a vegan diet is extremely important in order to combat the worst effects of climate change” and have stated that raising animals is one of the top contributors to environmental problems. Lists have been created claiming the top 10 reasons being a vegetarian can help our environment: cools the planet, saves land, saves water, saves forests, reduces pollution to the soil, reduces pollution in the oceans, reduces air pollution, helps public health, avoids use of fossil fuels, and saves money.
The global justice session ended on an uplifting note. We took a moment to reflect with Jayanti Kirpalani. The vision that she has of the future is one world with peace with love and respect where humans and nature will be able to live together in harmony. She said this is not an impossible dream. She believes that love, justice, and fairness makes all  things possible, including coming together to heal our world. She urged us all to connect with ourselves and find moral ethics through this self-reflection; then you can express your findings with those around you and we can come together and change the world.

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Enough is enough.

13 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) walked out of the CoP today in protest of the lack of action (according to them) taking place at the CoP. The 13 NGOs include: Aksyan Klima Pilipinas, ActionAid, Bolivian Platform on Climate Change, Constryendo Puentes, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, Ibon International, International Trade Union Confederation, LDC Watch, Oxfam International, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance, Peoples’ Movement on Climate Change, and WWF. Read their statement here.


Adaptation and Animals

National Adaptation Plans, or NAPs, were established at the 17th conference of the parties to help enable countries to assess their vulnerabilities, assess climate change risks, and address adaptation (Decision 5/CP.17) “The agreed objective of the NAP planning process are: (a) to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, by building adaptive capacity and resilience; (b) to facilitate the integration of climate change adaptation, in a coherent manner, into relevant new and existing policies, programmes and activities, in particular development planning process and strategies, within all relevant sectors and at different levels, as appropriate.” (Decision 5/CP.17, paragraph 1)

These plans are intended to aid countries for medium and long-term planning. The plans are intended to be used by countries to advance current country plans, consolidate adaptation activities, ensure learning in planning and implementation, identify climate change risks, and create confidence in the agencies implementing these plans. There are four main elements of NAPs: (1) lay groundwork and address gaps, (2) preparatory elements, (3) implementation strategies, (4) reporting, monitoring and review. (Annex to Decision 5/CP.17)

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Laying the groundwork involves initiating the NAP process by assessing overall goals of the country and what strategy the country should take. This includes stock-taking (identifying possible and probable impacts to the country from climate change and any vulnerabilities) and assessing institutional and technical capacity gaps the country may have that would inhibit their implementation of their NAP.

The preparatory stage looks at models and scenarios of possible affects climate change could have on the country. For example, the country looks at current weather patterns and observed data collected by scientists to analyze and predict what might happen in the future. This process helps to assess any vulnerabilities that the country may have and create plans locally and nationally. This is also the stage where costs and benefits are analyzed for each of the possible plans, as well as how to prioritize, how inputs of stakeholders will be incorporated, and how information about the NAPs will be communicated and disseminated. Finally, integration takes place; integrating the NAP into the ongoing development process, looking at opportunities that can be generated through the integration, and facilitating the process.

Implementation strategies prioritize climate change adaption in national planning, develop long-term NAP implementation strategies, enhances capacity for planning and implementation, and promoting coordination at the local and multilateral level. The final stage – reporting, monitoring, and review – is just that.

At a side event this afternoon, I learned Bangladesh is currently working on a NAP which looks at health security, disaster management practices, infrastructure, knowledge/management/research, and institutional impact. Bangladesh is currently experiencing storm surges, and flooding (which impacts crops and food security), out-migration, fog and hail,  and a changing ecosystem. Malawi is also seeking to implement a NAP based on their vulnerability, which includes road flooding. Some challenges Malawi faces are insufficient policy, institutional and legal framework, problems up-scaling, issues with insufficient capacity building and training programs, low skills and know-how among the general public, and low public awareness.

You may have noticed, as I did, that biodiversity and wildlife are not directly considered under NAPsMiddle_Patuxent_report_cover. While it is true that many species would probably indirectly benefit from NAPs, their survival and the maintenance of their habitats is not part of the guidelines. Wildlife organizations, such as the National Wildlife Federation, have taken it upon themselves to create plans and guidelines (like the UN for NAPs) for helping wildlife and habitat conservation. These guidelines assess wildlife and habitat vulnerabilities and provides strategies for dealing with climate change. To help protect and conserve biodiversity, NAPs should include guidelines and assessments for wildlife adaptation plans.

Why should people care about conserving biodiversity? Aren’t the people of the countries implementing NAPs more important than the animals? No. Wildlife is just as important and, in fact, countries depend on biodiversity. For most people, biodiversity provides various sources of food, clothing, shelter, and medicine.* Other benefits include the contribution of animals to the food web by the transferring energy and nutrients and the fact that many species that help with decay and regeneration of plants and forests.* These reasons make terrestrial ecosystems dependent on a high diversity of organisms for the functioning of the ecosystem to be efficient.*

It is essential that adaptation include biodiversity. All species must be considered when implementing adaptation plans for the coming effects of climate change. Animals did not create this problem, but they are being effected in the same way, or worse, than people. They deserve to be protected and considered in NAPs.

*Ruth Patirck, Biodiversity: Why Is It Important?, in Biodiversity II 15, 15-17 (Marjorie L. Reaka-Kudla, Don E. Wilson & E.O. Wilson eds., 1997).

**Much of the information gathered for this report was from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s “The National Adaptation Plan Process: A Brief Overview” put together by the LDC Expert Group, December 2012.


Supporting Animal Empowerment through Climate Mitigation Projects

This afternoon I attended a side event entitled “Supporting Women Empowerment through Climate Mitigation Projects.” The event was put on by WOCAN – Women Organizing for Change in Agriculture & logoNatural Resource Management. The event, along with many of the Gender Day COP events, was about ensuring benefits to women and empowering them through projects that help combat climate change, such as REDD+ projects and substituting biogas stoves for the black-carbon spewing cook fires many rural women use.

The panel of speakers presented some great ideas about how to empower women in these rural areas. One such idea, presented by WOCAN and the South Pole Group, paired carbon credits from climate mitigation activities with projects that have a strong focus on gender. The idea is that demand for such projects will accelerate investments into the projects, which in turn will strengthen the delivery of gender benefits. An example of such a project was putting biogas stoves into the homes of these rural women; this would benefit them by giving them more quality time to spend (away from the cook fire) and would also decrease their carbon footprint. Empowers women and helps fight climate change.

Another speaker from Code REDD spoke about repackaging the selling of REDD projects to corporations. Forestry is not usually the highest priority for many corporations, but gender equality is; women are major buyers and users of many corporate products and are the “face” of some very big companies. Therefore, Code REDD has been trying to repackage REDD projects (which usually already benefit women) to sell the “gender factor.”

While sitting through this fascinating presentation, I was wracking my brain to figure out how I could connect what I did today at the CoP to wildlife and biodiversity. And then it hit me: such projects could be used to save species, too. Why not develop projects that both reduce carbon footprints while at the same time creating benefits for the wildlife in the area, like maintaining habitats. One incredible example can be seen here; this biologist, hoping to save orangutans from habitat destruction, rebuorangutan_wwfwallpaperilt a rainforest in Borneo. A perfect example of a project that combines fight climate change with helping endangered species and wildlife. REDD projects already work with wildlife groups, such as the Wildlife Conservation Society (which happens to be the NGO I am working with), but I feel like this connection – the connection between saving our forests through creating REDD+ projects and conserving wildlife – could be stronger. Let’s empower our animals through these climate mitigation projects.


The Time for Action is NOW!

Christiana Figueres’ Call to Action:

“The science is clear. The negative impacts are upon us and the opportunities have never been as compelling. So why are we not moving into the action at the speed and the scale that we have to be? My friends, the time is now. Now, let me say to all of us on the board, one way or another on the climate agenda, it is not a job.  For the human system, this cannot be a job. For the development banks, this cannot be a job. This has got to be our obsession. Every morning we have to get up, look at ourselves in the mirror and say “am I doing enough?” “Am I doing everything that I can?” “Am I working with all the stakeholders that I have to work with in order to move this forward?” Because my dear friends, we’re running out of time. The time for action is now. And you all represent a lot of the action that is taking  place in your countries. So my friends, no more wasting time. No more plans. No more pilot projects. We’ve got to move out of the pilot stage and we have to move in to true demonstrations… And you know what? We’ve got to do it in 12 months! … So my dear friends, let’s just do it! Thank you.”


The Environment and Gender Index is Here

photo 1As many of you no doubt noticed, all last week Taylor posted about the intersection of gender and the environment. Today (as Taylor foreshadowed) is Gender Day at the COP and it began with the launch of the Results of the Environment and Gender Index. I started my day by attending the launch breakfast, where I heard from Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, Monique Barbut, Executive Secretary of UNCCD, and Ana Chichava, Deputy Minister for Coordination of Environmental Affairs in Mozambique.

 

The EGI is the first of its kind, looking at gender equality in the environmental sector and where improvements are needed. The motivations of the study were to “move beyond lip service” and provide countries with actual data to enable them to (or maybe more aptly goad them into) put actual policies in place. The purposes of the EGI include: monitoring the implementation of global commitments; promoting transparency and accountability; expanding access to environmental information; increasing aid effectiveness; and demonstrating that measurement is possible.

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The EGI itself scored and ranked 72 countries looking at 27 dimensions in six categories (ecosystem, gender based education & assets, governance, country reported activity, livelihood, and gender based rights & participation). Iceland ranked number 1. The US is number 14 (due to its lower performance on women in policy-making positions). Panama was the highest ranking Latin American country. South Africa was the highest ranking African country. See the full report here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


From Forests to Oceans: Climate Change Affects Biodiversity Everywhere

My first day at the CoP. What a dizzying experience! And, of course, the topic: climate change and its effects. But why have this conference? Why is climate change a threat? It is because of the vast environmental impacts that are occurring in its wake, not just to biodiversity, but to almost every aspect of life on earth.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report:
“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased.”*
The report goes on to discuss the more specific scientific findings by the IPCC. For example, the earth’s surface has been warmer in the last three decades than since before 1850 and it is “virtually certain” that the upper ocean has warmed over the past 40 years.* Additionally, the IPCC is highly confident that Greenland and the Arctic ice sheets have been melting and not regenerating ice, that glaciers continue to shrink, and that snow cover in the Arctic is decreasing.* The IPCC Fifth Assessment Report believes that climate change and global warming will continue to have these effects.* Such changes in climate and temperature have an effect on biodiversity.
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Biodiversity is everywhere. In our forests and in our oceans. The oceans are particularly of interest; ocean acidification is known as the “other CO2 problem.” Rising CO2 levels, as s result of greenhouses gases released by human activities, are increasing the acidity of the oceans. This is know as ocean acidification. Our oceans absorb 1/4 of all of the CO2 released into the atmosphere, but recently there has been a 26% increase in the acidity of the oceans.* The increasing acidity of the oceans, or lowering of the ph level, has a negative affect on the ocean’s biodiversity, species, and the marine ecosystem.

Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy have a nice video explaining how ocean acidification affects species.

Groups of organisms that are negatively affected by the rise in ocean acidity are: mollusks (clams, mussels, oysters), sea urchins, sea cucumbers, starfish, crustaceans (crabs, lobsters), finfish (tuna, flounders), and corals. These changes can have physiological consequences, such as behavior, abundance, reproduction, and photosynthesis. Additionally, organisms that have calcium skeletons, such as corals and mollusks, are experiencing corrosion of their shells, making them soft enough to squeeze with a human hand. Most species will be negatively or neutrally affected, few will benefit, but just because changes may benefit a few species does not mean this change is good; acidification is affecting whole ecosystem, which, overall, is harmful. Such harmful affects include reducing food sources for humans and other marine life, eliminating central species in the food web and ecosystems.

oceanacid

 

CO2 vents deep under the ocean provide a window into what will happen if we let our oceans keep on absorbing CO2 at the rate they are – it is a dismal picture for species and biodiversity.

Forests, too, are host to some of the worlds most exotic and diverse species. But forests are beinlittle bookg cut down at an alarming rate. According to the Global Canopy Programme’s (GCP) newly released “The Little Book of Big Deforestation Drivers,” 50% of the world’s tropical forests have been cleared. The book goes on to discuss the major causes of deforestation and forest degradation (urban expansion, infrastructure, mining, agriculture, timber) and the supply chains and trade. It posits that changing the supply chain and its catalysts could help reduce the massive rate of deforestation occurring around the world. Taking away such forests removes critical (and sometimes the only) habitats for some species. Deforestation, especially in tropical areas, has caused many animals to become endangered.

Indonesia, one of the biggest places where deforestation is occurring, has been taking a “u-turn,” according to Heru Prasetyo, Member of REDD+ Task Force Indonesia. He stated, much to my delight, that the forest holds many secrets and these secrets are invisible to us, much like Bilbo is when he wears the One Ring. “The forest is the forest; the land is the land.” It is important to differentiate between land use and forests so that deforestation for agricultural purposes does not continue to occur.

It is up to us – humans – to stop this acidification of our oceans. It is up to us to stop deforestation and forest degradation. These habitats provide homes for vast amounts of species and biodiversity. They must be saved; not only for their sake, but for ours as well. And don’t forget to ask yourself: how much forest have you eaten today?

* Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I Contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis, Summary for Policymakers, 3 (Sept. 27, 2013) [hereinafter IPCC Fifth Assessment Report Summary]. See also Organization, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, http://www.ipcc.ch/organization/organization.shtml#.Unfn_Y1JXws (last visited Nov. 4, 2013) (the IPCC was established by the U.N. Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization in 1988 “to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.” It issues periodic reports, such as its newly released Fifth Assessment, to detail the scientific authority and status of the earth’s changing climate and the likelihood of risks climate change is causing).


Wild About Wildlife

I’ve always been an animal lover. I grew-up with a myriad of pets; mostly dogs, but also rabbits, an African Grey pAfrican-grey-parrot-perchedarrot, lizards, turtles, fish, cats, and a tarantula. My parents instilled in me a great love for all wildlife and a sense that creatures deserve love and care just like people do. I remember wearing “save the rainforest” t-shirts in elementary school and thinking every stuffed animal I came across was cute, not matter the species.

It was this love of wildlife that partially lead to me the study of environmental law, as animal law and wildlife law falls under this umbrella. While earning my JD, I delved deeper into this field, leading Penn State Dickinson’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, bringing Animal Law back as a course offering, and writing my law journal comment (which was published this past spring) on CITES, focusing specifically on the illegal trade in white rhinoceros horns.

white-rhino2

Now, while earning my LLM, I am continuing my academic pursuit on the intersection of environmental and animal law by conducting my thesis on the Endangered Species Act, extinction and climate change. Climate change is the second greatest cause of species extinction as of the 21st century, constituting a “threat multiplier,” meaning climate change intensifies all other threats to species and ecosystems.* Because of the environmental impacts of climate change, such as melting arctic ice, rising sea levels, changing ocean ecology (such as ocean acidification), declining forests and increasing desertification, species and their habitats are becoming increasingly threatened.

My thesis research inspired my interest in working with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) at CoP logo19 in Poland. WCS is a global conservation group, the goal of which is to save wildlife, ecosystems, and biodiversity through a landscape based approach. WCS has projects mostly in Africa and Asia that look at climate change mitigation and do a lot with REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation plus conservation, the sustainable management of forests, and enhancement of forest carbon stocks) and carbon conservation. Their projects focus on ways they can work through existing programs, like REDD+, to help with ecosystem adaptation to climate change. The Carbon for Conservation program focuses specifically on protecting 20 million acres of tropical forests, preventing approximately 60 millions tons of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere over the next few years. WCS’s projects, like Carbon for Conservation, work with the local people and governments to reduce deforestation, while aiding in growth and development and protecting endangered species.

I am very excited to pursue my passion and love for wildlife and to be part of the discussion to help save creatures all over the world from the threats of climate change.

* Patrick Parenteau, Species and Ecosystem Impacts, in The Law of Adaptation to Climate Change: U.S. and International Aspects 307, 307-49 (Michael B. Gerrard & Katrina Fischer Kuh eds., 2012) (the greatest threat to species is land use change).