Wildlife agencies contribute to climate conference

By Dana Kobilinsky

The COP26 climate conference took place in Scotland this fall. Credit: Daniel

As world leaders gathered at a United Nations conference to tackle climate change, they heard from some state and federal agencies, which sent representatives to Scotland or appeared virtually to share their work on the ground.

“It’s good to have global targets, but ultimately someone on the ground has to implement those,” said Douglas Beard, who represented the U.S. Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Center at the COP26 2021 United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow.

Beard said the British consulate asked the center to participate after seeing a presentation on its work at the Southeast Adaptation Science Center. Part of his job is to provide the federal government with the best available science to plan for climate change.

In his presentation during Adaptation, Loss and Damage Day at the COP conference, he spoke about his work with tribal and Indigenous people as they adapt to the effects climate change, including thawing permafrost in Alaska and impacts on wildlife, which can affect traditional uses for food and cultural activities.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources presented a video highlighting its work on carbon credits on the Pigeon River County State Forest. Companies operating on the forest can offset their carbon emissions by purchasing carbon credits from entities that reduce carbon monoxide.

“I think it emphasized to a lot of people at the conference that we can actually have put science into action,” Beard said. “In fact, [the Michigan DNR] example showed how local governments are actively engaged in trying manage carbon.”.

Beard said he was encouraged to hear leaders express support for science-based decision-making and listen to the experiences of people putting policy in action.

“I hope we don’t lose site of the fact that we can actually have reasonable ways to use science in policy,” he said. “I hope to see science does have a seat at the table when decisions are being made.”

Dana KobilinskyDana Kobilinsky is associate editor at The Wildlife Society. Contact her at dkobilinsky@wildlife.org with any questions or comments about her article. You can follow her on Twitter at @DanaKobi.

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