Whilst the US and the Russian Federation have managed to agree that the polar bear deserves the protection of banning trade at this years CITES meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, it appears that Denmark and Greenland alongside Canada are determined to ensure that the polar bear is not protected come hell or high water.
Yes, polar bears are threatened by climate change and rising seas, but they are also significantly threatened by increasing hunting and trade. It is estimated that only 20–25,000 polar bears now remain in the world and 15,000 of those live in Canada, where they are increasingly hunted for their skins and other parts as well as simply for sport.
The EU, with its 27 votes at the CITES conference, has the duty to help protect this key species. But it appears that the EU has put forward a compromise proposal that would keep polar bears off the necessary Appendix I and would effectively put off the discussion about what to do.
This proposal is not what many EU governments promised or what the EU Parliament voted for, – and indeed may compromise the EU completely.
As some of you would know form these blogs WDC has been challenging the EU to clarify its voting procedures at these major environmental conventions. In a previous CITES meeting the EU Commission attempted to arm-wrestle pro-conservation countries into taking a weaker stance on a proposal to protect bluefin tuna.
On that occasion the EU put forward a compromise proposal but it was subsequently defeated, but the Commission then forbid any EU member state from voting for the original stricter proposal and instructed member states to abstain. There was even rumours of discussions in back rooms of fining countries that actually stood up and voted for protection.
Now we find ourselves in the potentially the same position.
The EU has put forward a compromise on the polar bear, but what if it loses that vote? Will the EU tell Germany, the UK, and other EU Member states that they can not vote with the USA and Russia for effective protection?
The EU has been gutted in the IWC by Denmark acting for Greenland in the past, lets just hope to goodness that this is not the case again.
EU member states should reject the compromise, but if they don’t, then they should have the right to uphold EU law and vote for what they know is right.
Its time for this Denmark induced nightmare to end.
You can read more on this unfolding story on the Guardian newspaper website
You can read more on Denmark and the issue of the EU and whaling here