Historic Polar Bear meeting in Tromsø
An agreement signed in 1973 obliges the five Arctic states with polar bear populations to take action on climate change at a meeting next week, WWF said on March 12.
For the first time in more than 25 years, the Contracting Parties to the 1973 international Agreement for the Conservation of Polar Bears and Their Habitats – Canada, Russia, US, Greenland/Denmark, and Norway – will come together for a formal meeting under the agreement. The meeting, which is hosted by the Norwegian government, will take place in Tromsø, Norway, 17-19 March.
The original historic agreement focused on threats especially from heavy hunting practices that had decimated polar bear populations worldwide. It also committed the states to preservation of the bears’ habitat. Sea ice is a critical part of that habitat, providing a platform for the bears to hunt seals.
WWF urges delegates next week to acknowledge that preserving this Arctic icon will depend on addressing today’s main threat — climate change. Two-thirds of the world’s 20 to 25,000 polar bears will be lost during the next 50 years because of climate change, according to recent comprehensive analyses by the U.S. Geological Survey and the World Conservation Union.
“You cannot protect polar bears without addressing global warming,” says WWF polar bear coordinator Geoff York. “It is widely accepted that we need to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees in order to avoid irreversible climate change. The most important action we can take to help preserve polar bears is to slow the rate of climate change, and ultimately to stop it so that their habitat does not entirely disappear.”
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