Renewable Natural 

Resources Foundation






NEW ON RNRF BLOG

U.S. Deviates from Climate Consensus at Arctic Council Meeting

iceberg

The Arctic Council, a high-level intergovernmental forum comprised of the eight countries with territory in the Arctic Circle, ended its ministerial on May 14, 2019, without a joint declaration spelling out its priorities. This was because the United States objected to any mention of climate change or the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump intends to remove the U.S. from the agreement, although he cannot legally do so until November 4, 2020, one day after the U.S. Presidential election. This is the first time since the Arctic Council was formed in 1996 that the body could not agree on a joint declaration.

This is especially notable because climate change continues to have a disproportional impact on the Arctic when compared to the rest of the world. Arctic temperatures are increasing at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, causing serious risk to the region’s ecosystems and infrastructure.

While U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned that “the Trump Administration shares your deep commitment to environmental stewardship,” his real focus seemed to be elsewhere. He warned Russia and China against “aggressive” behavior in the region. This was a surprise to all since the Arctic Council’s mandate explicitly excludes military security...

Read more on RNRF’s blog, the Renewable Resources Report, by clicking here.

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New UN Report Details Unprecedented Decline in Biodiversity

Coral Reef

A new report released by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) gives a harrowing summary of the challenges to sustaining the Earth’s biodiversity. The most comprehensive assessment of its kind, this report estimates that one million species are threatened with extinction due to five factors (listed in descending order of impact):

1) Changes in land and sea use;
2) Direct exploitation of organisms;
3) Climate change;
4) Pollution;
5) Invasive alien species

The report comprehensively describes the threats to biodiversity, the drastic scope of the problem, its implications, and potential policy solutions.

The report distinguishes itself from past works by making a direct connection between biodiversity and human wellbeing. While land-use change and resource exploitation have been the underpinnings of the modern global economy, they are causing losses of biodiversity that will be increasing harmful to society. The predicted loss of species diversity would result in a significant reduction of necessary ecosystem services such as the regulation of air and water quality, pollination and dispersal of seeds, and regulation of hazards and extreme events, among others. On the world’s current trajectory, biodiversity loss will make goals related to poverty, hunger, health, and water far more difficult to achieve...

Read more on RNRF's blog, the Renewable Resources Report, by clicking here.
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Harvard University's Environmental Policy Initiative is tracking the Trump Administration's environmental rollbacks.  Click here to learn more.
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NEWS

RNRF Meeting:
Deep Seabed Mineral Mining and the U.S.

On May 29, 2019, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) presented a meeting titled "Deep Seabed Mineral Mining and the U.S.: Diplomatic, Legal, and Environmental Aspects," hosted by the American Geophysical Union in its newly renovated headquarters in Washington, D.C. Speakers were Greg O'Brien, U.S. Department of State; Kerry Kehoe, U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and David Diamond, U.S. Geological Survey. They described how the U.S. is participating in deliberations of the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the U.N organization that is writing the rules for exploring and exploiting mineral resources beneath the "high seas."

OBrienGreg O'Brien, a foreign affairs officer in the State Department’s Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs, has led the U.S.’s observer delegation to the ISA since 2015, and spoke about the role of the U.S. in the rulemaking process.

Part XI of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) defines the "Area" that the treaty has the authority to regulate. This includes all seabed, ocean floor, and subsoil outside of national jurisdictions. UNCLOS gives the ISA the authority to establish the rules and regulations governing exploration and exploitation of the resources found in the Area. Membership in the ISA mirrors signatories of UNCLOS, including 168 countries. Since the U.S. is not a party to the convention, it sends a delegation to attend meetings as an observer state.

Despite this non-member status, the U.S. has an interest in development of ISA regulations because of significant mineral resources in the Area. O'Brien stated that our main focus in our engagement is to ensure that regulations that have been developed for exploration and the regulations under development for exploitation are consistent with applicable law, particularly as reflected in the convention. If the U.S. were to ratify UNCLOS, it would be the only country with a permanent seat on the council of ISA, meaning that it would have the authority to veto any regulations or proposals counter to its interests...

Read more on RNRF's news page here.
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New RNRF Staff Members

MadelineMadeline Voitier has joined RNRF's staff as Senior Program Manager. She received a Bachelor’s degree in history at Louisiana State University in 2012, and a Juris Doctorate from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2017, with a certificate in Environmental Law.

Before joining RNRF, Voitier worked at Oceana, first as Law Fellow for the Legal Department and later as the Policy and Legal Specialist for the Offshore Drilling Campaign. During her time with Oceana, she engaged in every aspect of Oceana’s advocacy campaigns and gained valuable experience working with the policy, field, communications and science teams. In addition, Voitier researched and wrote a comprehensive report analyzing U.S. offshore energy policy released in April 2019.

She works with RNRF committees in developing and implementing programs such as public policy conferences, congressional forums, RNRF’s Washington Round Table on Public Policy, and the annual awards program. She also will have editorial responsibilities for the Renewable Resources Journal, Renewable Resources Report (RNRF’s blog) and RNRF’s website.

SydneySydney Austin has joined RNRF’s staff as a summer program associate. She is currently a rising junior at George Washington University (GWU) where she is pursuing a degree in environmental studies and economics. At GWU, Austin has distinguished herself academically, having been named a Stephen Joel Trachtenberg scholar. She previously interned at the Bermuda Department of Environment and Natural Resources, where she assisted in oceanic research.







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