Bid to halt polar bear trade fails
In Bangkok, Thailand a joint Russian and US proposal to protect polar bears from international trade has failed. In no short measure this is thanks to the EU failing to vote in favour. Indeed, the EU’s fumbles at trying to achieve a compromise that pandered to Denmark and its Greenlanders (who don’t export polar bears, but want their friends in Canada to be able to do so) demonstrates how the the views of some 50,000 people in Greenland have outweighed the majority of hundreds of millions in the rest of Europe. Maybe some other EU member states were also not convinced, but the lack of transparency in the EU’s decision making makes it almost impossible for us to know. Noting how Denmark has sought to bludgeon the EU in the whaling debate, we can only suspect at this stage. The World Conservation Union (IUCN) has been reported to say that the polar bear population will decline some 30% over the next 45 years, but CITES appears to have a generic guidance that says the projected decline needs to be more than 50% over three generations – 45 years in the polar bear case, before action can take place. The problem with such large long lived mammal species, is that, in a world where we are losing Arctic ice at the same time, will there be enough habitat to allow for recovery when polar bears have passed the ‘magic’ 50% figure? You can read how Canada, Denmark and unfortunately even a ‘conservation’ group, helped keep polar bears in trouble in the Guardian’s coverage of the ongoing CITES meeting. WDC has one question to the EU and that is what will it do now as its compromise proposal failed? Do they just walk away or are they working to get something achieved? If they do, then lets please ensure that Denmark cannot vote internally to force other EU countries into an abstention. If Poland, the UK, Germany and others want to vote for better polar bear conservation lets get on and do it. The ambiguous procedural rules of the Lisbon Treaty are now becoming a mill store around the EU’s neck when the EU was meant to be able to take action. Advocate General Maduro in Case C-246/07 Commission v Sweden strongly supports the freedom of EU member countries to insist action in this type of issue. the Advocate General states; ‘…The distribution of competences operated by the Treaty is biased towards action: neither Member States nor the Community can block the other from pursuing a higher level of protection of the environment.’ At 57 the Advocate General states; ‘I am sympathetic to the argument that Member States must not be caught in a never-ending process, in which a final decision by the Community is postponed to the point of inaction. If that proves to be the case, a decision should be deemed to have been taken and Member States should be allowed to act’.