Julian Castro Reveals Animal Welfare and Biodiversity Plan

Last week, 2020 presidential hopeful and former HUD secretary Julian Castro was the first candidate to release an action plan addressing animal welfare issues. Huffington Post’s Yashar Ali broke the story and explained that Castro’s plan, called PAW: Protecting Animals and Wildlife,

  • Calls for ending the euthanasia of domestic dogs and cats in shelters and seeks to improve federal housing policy for those with pets.
  • Would sign into law legislation that would make animal cruelty a federal crime, establish federal minimums for space for farm animals, prohibit the testing of cosmetic products on animals, and ban the unlicensed ownership of large cats like lions and tigers.

Extinction Crisis: Earlier this year a landmark report revealed that 1 million species are at risk of extinction largely due to human activity and wildlife trafficking. A growing faction of environmental groups through the Campaign for Nature are calling for the conservation of  30 percent of the planet in a natural state by 2030 by creating and expanding protected areas, establishing ambitious international conservation targets, investing in science, and inspiring conservation action around the world. Castro’s plan is the first presidential plan to address the extinction crisis in a real way as his plan states:

We will create a $2 billion National Wildlife Recovery Fund to combat the extinction threat, protect over 30 percent of America’s lands and oceans for wildlife preservation with a 50 percent goal by 2050, and crack down on hunting elephants and other endangered species by doubling the Multinational Species Conservation Fund.

Marine Protection: Castro’s plan also aims to reengage the United States in international marine conservation efforts. Through fully enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act Castro hopes to ensure that imported seafood is caught with equipment that meets safety standards to protect marine mammals, expand domestic bycatch prevention, and lead international efforts to protect fisheries. Additionally, the plan proposes passing the bipartisan Save Our Seas 2.0 Act that equips the United States to better clear marine debris and lead international efforts to keep our oceans clean–thus addressing the marine plastic pollution.

Why This Matters: Protecting biodiversity is an important but often unaddressed component of climate action. In the United States specifically, we need to enforce our legacy conservation acts (like the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act) to ensure that we protect species and the valuable ecosystem services they provide. This is a great step by Secretary Julian Castro that we hope more 2020 contenders emulate in their own climate and environmental action plans.

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