3 June 2022


The 44th Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) wrapped up in Berlin overnight after failing to adopt a proposal to designate emperor penguins as a specially protected species.

It’s estimated that, under current greenhouse gas emissions, if sea ice declines at the rate projected almost all emperor penguin colonies would become quasi-extinct by 2100.

If the proposal had been accepted, Antarctic Treaty members would have adopted a plan which strengthened conservation of the world’s largest penguin.

The meeting also failed to adopt a comprehensive climate change action plan.

WWF is extremely disappointed that emperor penguins have not been listed as Specially Protected Species at this year’s Antarctic Treaty meeting in Berlin. Despite clear scientific advice and overwhelming support around the table, one Country chose to block progress in the conservation of this iconic species, which faces the full reality of the climate crisis and is increasingly vulnerable to habitat loss and human disturbance,” said Rod Downie, WWF-UK’s Chief Polar Advisor.

Each year we face new realities caused by the climate crisis, and each year we see a minority of nations continue to block progress on important conservation measures that would help to reframe current projections for Antarctic wildlife,” said Emily Grilly, WWF-Australia’s Antarctic Conservation Manager.

The Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959 – a unique and globally important system of international governance, the Antarctic Treaty establishes the continent as a region exclusively for peace and science.

Peace is not exclusive to humanity – Antarctic wildlife should be afforded peace and a safe refuge, away from the stressors of human activities, to develop resilience to the impacts of climate change,” continued Emily Grilly.

Delegations from 54 countries joined the discussions that took place in Berlin, where outcomes are a product of consensus-based decision making that should be based on the best available science.

WWF encourages all countries that are Party to the Antarctic Treaty to honour their obligations and act in the spirit of cooperation to protect Antarctic species through the implementation of increased protection for vulnerable species and habitats.