Arctic-Area Nations: Emissions Cuts Can Save Polar Bear

Five nations that created a treaty almost four decades ago to protect polar bears have issued a joint statement identifying global warming as “the most important long-term threat” to the bears.

The statement was released at the end of a meeting held in Norway, with scientists and officials attending from the United States, Canada, Russia, Norway and Denmark, representing Greenland. All nations have territory that abuts the Arctic Ocean, which is prime polar bear habitat.

Experts at the meeting said the parties were committed to collaboration on programs aimed at limiting direct threats to bear populations from increasing tourism, shipping and oil and gas drilling in the warming region, The New York Times reports.

Bear experts said that the five nations who cosigned the 1973 agreement on the conservation of polar bears need worldwide cooperation to address greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

It is estimated that there are currently 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide.

Published: March 25, 2009