Protection of the Antarctic environment has been a central theme in the cooperation among Antarctic Treaty Parties. In 1964, the ATCM adopted Agreed Measures for the Conservation of Antarctic Fauna and Flora. These Measures laid the basis for a regulatory system of general rules and specific regulations that provided extra protection in Specially Protected Areas. Subsequently the ATCM adopted a number of measures on various issues to widen, complement and strengthen the protection of the Antarctic environment.
A new stage was reached with the adoption of the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty in Madrid in 1991. Through the Environment Protocol the Contracting Parties “commit themselves to the comprehensive protection of the Antarctic environment and dependent and associated ecosystems and … designate Antarctica as a natural reserve, devoted to peace and science”. The Protocol prohibits all activities relating to Antarctic mineral resources, except for scientific research.
Antarctic Climate Change and the Environment
The Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research has published a thorough report on Antarctic Climate Change in 2009. 100 scientists from 13 countries contributed as authors. download (20 MB). Since then, SCAR has submitted annual updates to the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting.