U.S. and China to Fight Climate Change and Wildlife Trafficking

25 September 2015 | Defenders of Wildlife News Release

Washington – The United States and China have announced that they will join forces in efforts to combat climate change and wildlife trafficking in both countries. Climate change is already having serious effects on wildlife globally, and the illegal wildlife trade, particularly ivory trafficking, is decimating elephant populations and other imperiled species around the world.

On the heels of Pope Francis’ impassioned calls for “immediate measures for preserving and improving the natural environment,” the United States and China today released an ambitious Joint Presidential Statement on Climate Change. This statement affirms the commitments of both countries to reducing global warming pollution at home through a variety of measures, including the announcement of a cap-and-trade market in China, as well as shifting their domestic and international infrastructure financing to lower-carbon projects. Most importantly, the Joint Statement articulates a common vision for the upcoming global climate negotiations in Paris.

The United States and China have also committed to enacting “nearly complete bans on ivory import and export,” with steps to halt the domestic trade of ivory in both countries and to further restrict trophy imports. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have voiced their support for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to end the illegal trade in African elephant ivory in the U.S. Both countries will also cooperate on joint training, information sharing and education programs to enhance their crackdown on the illegal wildlife trade overall.

The following is a statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“This is a critically important signal to the world that the world’s two largest economies are taking the threat of climate change and the challenge of wildlife trafficking very seriously and have committed themselves to taking concrete steps to address these problems.

“This joint statement comes at a time when California is racked by drought and wildfire, the Arctic is experiencing near-record loss of sea ice and researchers have learned that critical habitat for birds, bees and other wildlife is shrinking by the year. As the world’s two largest carbon dioxide emitters, this joint agreement shows that the United States and China are serious about combatting what the Pope this week called ‘a problem that can no longer be left to future generations.’

“The joint statement also recognizes that trafficking is an extremely serious threat to imperiled wildlife all over the world, particularly the African elephant. The time has come to end the illegal ivory trade by shutting down the commercial sale of ivory in the United States and by eliminating completely – and not just reducing – the import of sport-hunted elephant trophies into the United States, period. This joint plan to cut off consumer demand from the two largest ivory markets in the world is one of the surest ways to slow down and ultimately stop the elephant poaching epidemic. It also signals the need for American consumers to join in this effort by asking themselves ‘do I really need to buy more ivory jewelry and other ivory products if it is fueling the continued slaughter of thousands of elephants ?’

This is a powerful statement of international leadership that recognizes the importance of protecting our environment and our wildlife. Climate change is affecting us all, right now. Without a concerted effort to implement carbon emission controls and climate adaptation measures, it’s only going to get worse. Similarly, the illegal wildlife trade is driving species like elephant and rhinos towards the brink of extinction and is adversely affecting thousands of species in countries around the world. These are global issues, and they need a global solution. President Obama and President Xi Jinping’s are to be highly commended for vowing to tackle these problems through bold new steps that need to be followed by the rest of the international community.”

Pope Francis’ UN Summit transcript: http://time.com/4049905/pope-francis-us-visit-united-nations-speech-transcript/

Joint Presidential Statement text: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/25/fact-sheet-united-states-and-china-issue-joint-presidential-statement

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