Polar bear’s Endangered Species Act listing upheld

Vol. 45 No. 1

Sarah Uhlemann is a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. Kassie Siegel is director of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.

In March 2013, the D.C. Circuit upheld the polar bear’s listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA or Act) as a species “threatened” with extinction due to the continued destruction of sea ice habitat caused by climate change. Because the ESA requires listing decisions to be based solely on the best science available, the polar bear listing process forced the U.S. government to squarely confront the science of climate change and the plight of the bear. The listing decision—and the D.C. Circuit’s decision to uphold it—solidly confirms that global climate disruption puts polar bears and other Arctic species at unprecedented risk, but also highlights the huge effort that remains to save species threatened by climate change worldwide.

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