50 Envtl. L. Rep. 10498 (2020)
Species Protection as a Natural Climate Solution

handle is hein.journals/elrna50 and id is 442 raw text is: 



                         SPECIES PROTECTION


                                   AS A NATURAL


                            CLIMATE SOLUTION




                                          by   Mackenzie Landa

            Mackenzie   Landa  is Counsel for the U.S. House  Select Committee  on  the Climate Crisis,
                   where  she leads  the Committee's work  on  nature-based  climate solutions.

                                                SUMMARY

This Article, adapted  from Chapter   16 of What  Can  Animal  Law  Learn  From  Environmental   Law?, 2d  Edition
(ELI Press, forthcoming 2020),  explores  existing and potential wildlife conservation  policies that could play a
vital role in mitigating global climate change.  It describes how climate  change  is impacting wildlife and  bio-
diversity around  the globe  and reviews  the history and current state of U.S. policy, including how the federal
government   currently manages   climate  change  issues under the ESA.  It then proposes ways  that the ESA  and
other wildlife conservation  policies can mitigate climate change   as natural climate solutions. It analyzes new
wildlife conservation  policies for their potential to mitigate climate change, and concludes that these can pro-
vide much-needed protection for species and biodiversity, while also serving as a valuable and meaningful
tool to combat  climate change.


Climate change is among the leading threats to the
       long-term survival of species and habitats today.'
       As such, wildlife protection is a crucial component
of the climate conversation. Increasingly warm tempera-
tures are having widespread impacts  on ecosystems  and
biodiversity around the globe. Species migration, extinc-
tions, and changes in behavior and population have already
been recorded.2 Habitats are shifting and shrinking and
the wildlife that depend on them face an uncertain future
as temperatures continue to rise.3
   While  the impacts of climate change  on biodiversity
cannot be  understated, wildlife can play another role in
the climate discussion: mitigation. Wildlife conservation
laws and policies can be used both as a tool to help wild-
life adapt to climate change and as a powerful natural cli-
mate solution to mitigate climate change. Natural climate
solutions, such as large landscape conservation and the

1.  United Nations, U.N. Report: Natures Dangerous Decline Unprecedented
    Species Extinction Rates 'Accelerating, SUSTAINABLE DEV. GOALS BLOG (May
    6,2019), https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-
    decline-unprecedented-report/ [hereinafter U.N. Report].
2.  Douglas Lipton et al., Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, and Biodiversity, in 2
    IMPACTs, RISKS, AND ADAPTATION IN THE U.S.: FOURTH NATL CLIMATE As-
    SESSMENT 275-76 (R.D. Reidmiller et al., eds. 2018).
3.  Id; see also Craig Welch, HalfofAll Species Are on the Move-And Were Feel-
    ing It, NATL GEO., Apr. 27, 2017, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/
    news/2017/04/climate-change-species-migration-disease/.


protection and restoration of forests, wetlands, and other
natural spaces, are ways to significantly reduce greenhouse
gas (GHG)  emissions and store carbon in lands and soils.4
Improved  land and habitat management   have the poten-
tial to deliver up to one-third of the emissions reductions
needed to meet emissions targets by 2030.
   Wildlife conservation policies should be considered and
utilized as one such natural climate solution. For exam-
ple, protecting species such as the polar bear from climate
change under  the Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides
safeguards for the species, but it also makes oil and gas
development  in polar bear habitat more difficult, thereby
limiting the potential for fossil fuel emissions'; establish-
ing wildlife corridors is necessary for species connectivity,
but it also requires preservation of natural spaces which
sequester carbon; and designating critical habitat provides

4.  See Joseph E. Fargioneet al., Natural Climate Solutionsfor the United States,
    Sc. ADV., Nov. 2018, at 4.
5.  NaturalClimateSolutions,THE NATURE CONSERVANCY, https://www.nature.
    org/en-us/what-we-do/our-insights/perspectives/natural-climate-solutions/
    (lastvisitedDec. 19,2019); Georgina Gustin, NaturalClimateSolutions Could
    Cancel Out a Fifth of U.S. Emissions, Study Finds, INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS,
    Nov. 14, 2018, https://insideclimatenews.org/news/14112018/climate-
    change-solutions-forests-farms-carbon-storage-cancel-out-emissions-study
6.  See generally Eric Hull, Using Climate Change Impacts as Leverage to Protect
    the Polar Bear: The Value ofHabitat Protection in PromotingAnimal Welfare,
    in.WHATCANANIMALLAwLEARNFROMENVIRONMENTALLAw?(2dedition
    forthcoming2020).


ENVIRONMENTAL LAW REPORTER


50 ELR  10498


6-2020

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