Everything we do protects the climate

Climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected. Our campaigns protecting the Earth’s biodiversity on land and at sea are vital to address climate change. Climate change affects biodiversity and biodiversity loss exacerbates climate change.

Our track record of positive results for the planet

Since 1984, we have faced what appeared to be overwhelming challenges and have managed to secure a raft of positive results for the planet.

They include:

  • Securing global bans on the international elephant ivory trade
  • Reducing commercial hunting of whales, dolphins and porpoises in Japan and Iceland
  • Reforming the timber industry to curb illegal logging
  • Leading successful efforts to secure global agreements to reduce the production and consumption of climate-changing gases
  • Helping to secure an historic commitment to negotiate a plastics treaty at the UN.

Exposing wildlife crime and threats to the natural world

Indonesia Illegal Logging

Today, our undercover investigations continue to expose wildlife crime and the most pressing threats to our natural world. We expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, as well as forest crimes including illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil.

We work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by addressing the threats posed by plastic pollution, bycatch and commercial exploitation of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Finally, we reduce the impact of climate change by campaigning to eliminate powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases, exposing related illicit trade and improving energy efficiency in the cooling sector.

Tracking down wildlife criminals

Our undercover investigators often work in dangerous situations, infiltrating criminal organisations and collecting evidence. This evidence is used to produce reports and films that help prosecute environmental criminals, highlight issues to both high-level decision makers and the public, and change laws around the world. Our findings are combined with scientific documentation and representation at international conventions, creating the hard-hitting campaigns which have earned us a global reputation.

Global impact aligned with UN goals

Our impact is global and fully aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  • Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  • Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.

Climate change and biodiversity loss are interconnected

video credit: ThoughtfulRhino

Given the breadth of our work and the wealth of information that we hold, EIA is uniquely placed to look at the connections between the illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging and deforestation to promote effective policy and enforcement responses. We fill a significant gap in the understanding of the links between the two areas.

Rotten to the Core

Our Rotten to the Core report highlights how wildlife and forest crime contribute to habitat destruction and biodiversity loss, damaging both our climate and ecosystems.

Forests: our last line of defence
Forests indonesia

By protecting forests, we can help avoid runaway climate change.

The world’s forests are our last line of defence in mitigating climate change, stopping the extinction of wildlife and helping prevent the next pandemic.

Preventing deforestation and the selective removal of ancient living trees is essential in order to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises we face today.

Vanessa Richardson, EIA UK Forests Campaigner
Indonesia Tanjung Puting Orangutan

Palm oil deforestation in Indonesia poses a serious threat to orangutan populations.

The protection of existing old growth forests is paramount if preserving forests as a climate solution is to succeed. They contain more carbon in biomass and soils than is stored in all the Earth’s atmosphere. Carbon is transformed into biomass via photosynthesis. This process, known as carbon sequestration, captures carbon which is present in the atmosphere in the form of CO2.

A group of 40 scientists, spanning five countries have urged that by protecting and restoring forests, the world would achieve 18% of the carbon emissions mitigation needed by 2030 to avoid runaway climate change.

Furthermore, the loss of forest animals reduces the capacity of forests to absorb carbon as large tropical tree species often rely on large animals for seed dispersal and regeneration. Solving the problem of deforestation and habitat loss for endangered species is therefore a prerequisite for any effective response to climate change.

Elephants: Africa’s mega gardeners
Elephant in forest

The forest elephants of West and Central Africa play a crucial ecological role in maintaining the world’s second largest rainforest.

Elephants are like us, only better: loyal, full of wisdom, compassion and majesty. If we cannot secure a future for the biggest terrestrial land mammal, how on earth will we ensure a future for the myriad other creatures which are equally important to a healthy landscape and our own wellbeing?

Mary Rice, Executive Director of EIA

Elephant Dung

Wherever they live, keystone species such as forest and savannah elephants leave dung full of seeds from the many plants they eat. When this dung is deposited, the seeds are sown and grow into new grasses, bushes and trees, boosting the health of the savannah and forest ecosystems.

By helping to preserve the trees that are critical for the capture of carbon, elephants are our allies in mitigating global warming.

They are also helping to support a vital wildlife habitat for myriad other species, including critically endangered gorillas, pangolins and chimpanzees, as well as leopards, monkeys and okapi.

Pangolins: supporting local ecosystems

Using its astonishingly long, sticky tongue, almost the same length as its body, a pangolin can swallow up to 20,000 insects in a single night.

Pangolins play a critical role in their ecosystems as regulators of insect populations. They are a key species in the rainforest: an individual pangolin consumes as many as 70 million ants and termites a year. They are fantastic tenders of soil and without them, there would be a cascading impact on the environment, leaving the forest ecology seriously disrupted.

Pangolins are unsung heroes that are vital to their ecosystems: they control the number of pest insects, and their habit of burrowing turns and aerates the soil. This also makes them a big help to the rural farming communities that live alongside them.

Julian Newman, Campaigns Director, EIA
Tigers: protecting biodiversity
Royal Bengal Tiger

By protecting tigers, we are also protecting forests, other species and the surrounding ecosystem.

Tigers undoubtedly play a crucial role in supporting other species and ecosystems. Landscapes where wild tigers live overlap with globally important ecosystems, many of which are in Asia’s last wilderness. Healthy tiger habitats help mitigate climate change, provide fresh water to animals and people, and reduce the impact of natural disasters.

As a charismatic animal, the tiger provides an umbrella under which a host of other species can be protected. In order for the tiger to survive, it needs healthy, well-protected forests and prey species. These in turn support the whole ecology of the region.

Meanwhile, the forests, swamps and mangroves provide essential ecosystem services such as water purification and retention, soil creation, flood prevention, climate regulation, forest products and climate change mitigation.

The tiger represents the very forests that mitigate climate change, secure water and deliver other ecosystem services. The wild tiger is not just a commodity that can be treated in isolation.

Debbie Banks, Tigers and Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaigns Leader, EIA

Our work to increase awareness of the threat posed by the illegal wildlife trade to elephants, pangolins and tigers does not just protect these endangered species. It also helps maintain vital ecosystems that absorb carbon emissions and mitigate global warming.

Oceans: safeguarding marine ecosystems

Some 80 per cent of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean. Our seas, along with our forests, are literally the lungs of our planet.

Dr Jane Goodall DBE, environmentalist and UN Messenger of Peace
Adult Humpback Whale Breaching

If whale populations were rebuilt to pre-whaling numbers, the species could remove the carbon equivalent generated by driving 125,000 cars for a year.

EIA also works to safeguard marine ecosystems. Whales, dolphins and porpoises play a vital role in marine ecosystems. Their faeces are nutrient rich and provide food to phytoplankton, which absorbs CO2. The Ocean absorbs at least one-quarter of all CO2 produced on the planet and marine plants photosynthesis produces at least half of the oxygen we breathe.

Yet, cetaceans face unprecedented and growing threats from human activities including marine debris and plastic pollution, climate change, noise, chemical pollution and industrial fishing.

Whales provide incredible services for the ocean and coastal communities, playing a role deemed so important that some scientists have coined them ‘ecosystem engineers’. Whales do more than guard the ocean – they nurture it.

Whales help to release and transfer nutrients across oceans, play a role in the ocean’s carbon cycle and, as large, long-lived creatures at the top of the food chain, they help to stabilise ocean ecosystems.

As high-level predators, dolphins and porpoises also help to maintain the balance of their complex native ecosystems.

Protecting endangered species, protecting the planet

We want to see a commitment to scaling up conservation of natural ecosystems so that 30 per cent of the world’s terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and ocean ecosystems are effectively conserved by 2030, and to rewilding of degraded land and seas.

We monitor the palm oil and timber trades

Deforestation is one of the key drivers of climate change. Over a quarter of tree cover loss involves permanent deforestation for commercial agriculture to produce commodities like soya, palm oil or beef. Much is illegal, environmentally destructive and socially exploitative. A further quarter of tree cover loss is driven by commercial forestry, often involving the conversion of natural forest to monoculture tree plantations.

Log trucks

80% of the world’s land-based species, including elephants and rhinos, live in forests. By combating illegal logging, we preserve vital habitats for wildlife.

We help protect elephants, pangolins and tigers

With African elephants being poached for their ivory at a rate exceeding natural replacement, 100,000 pangolins taken from the wild every year and fewer than 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild, 60% of animal populations have been lost since the 1970s.

Iconic species continue to be hunted and are the targets of organised criminals relying on the same money-laundering infrastructure as narcotics. After drugs, arms and human trafficking, transnational illegal wildlife trade is the fourth biggest criminal activity in the world.

Yet wildlife trafficking is still considered as a crime of lesser importance and remains a high-profit / low-risk crime. We strongly believe that tracking down financial flows should be a priority.


Co-operation between different enforcement agencies has proved to be one of the most successful ways to disrupt the criminal networks behind the illegal ivory trade.

We aim to turn off the plastic tap for good
Plastic tap installation outside the UN by artist Von Wong

Plastic tap installation outside the UN by artist Von Wong (c) EIA

Plastic not only poses an immense pollution problem, it also exacerbates climate change as 99 per cent of plastics are made from fossil fuels, both natural gas and crude oil. Plastic results in greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle, from its production to the incineration and recycling of plastic waste.

We warned that the greenhouse gas emissions from plastic jeopardise our ability to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5˚C. Under the current trajectory, greenhouse gas emissions associated with conventional plastics will account for up to 13 per cent of the carbon budget by 2050. A reduction in plastic consumption will play a role in reducing societal dependence on fossil fuels, as well as curbing demand for fossil gas that exacerbates upstream methane leakages.

While cetaceans remain vulnerable to over-hunting and illegal fishing, marine litter such as ghost fishing gear and plastic pollution is now also recognised as a global environmental crisis, with projections that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

Plastic production has increased twentyfold in the past half-century and is expected to double again in the next 20 years, contributing even further to global warming.

While improvements to waste management are essential, the predicted exponential growth trends in plastic production mean that we can no longer recycle our way out of this problem.

We have worked – and continue to work - at UK, EU and UN levels, to push for a global treaty on plastic pollution to significantly reduce global production of plastic, the consumption of single-use plastics and to address major sources of marine plastic pollution in the UK and worldwide. Our work was fundamental in helping to secure an historic commitment to negotiate a plastics treaty at the UN.

This is a truly historic moment for our planet. This resolution finally recognises that we cannot begin to address plastics in our ocean and on land without intervening at source – fundamentally, the plastics tap must be turned off if we are serious about tackling the problem.

Christina Dixon, EIA Ocean Campaign Lead

We directly tackle super-polluting greenhouse gases

There’s no doubt that we’re facing a climate emergency. Global emissions are reaching record levels, their impacts are being felt everywhere and are having very real consequences on people’s health. The worst effects of global warming will be prevented if the global temperature increase stays below 1.5°C.

To limit warming, methane emissions need to be reduced by 45 per cent and fluorinated gases by 85 per cent. Early reductions of these short-lived climate pollutants would lower peak warming and reduce the likelihood of overshooting warming limits.

Listen to our podcast on climate change

Disposable Cannisters

EIA is tackling the growing problem of climate-damaging refrigerant gases that are entering the EU illegally.

In response to the climate emergency:

  • We are calling on the world’s governments to undertake new measures under the Montreal Protocol for a rapid global phase-down of HFC gases, which are used primarily in cooling products. This could avoid an estimated 0.5°C of warming.
  • We are urging industry and businesses to transition to a sustainable cooling sector, that not only addresses the use of HFC greenhouse gases but also reduces energy consumption, which can contribute to three times more carbon dioxide equivalent emissions than the HFCs used as refrigerants. In 2021, we published the Pathway to Net-Zero: Cooling Product List to showcase some of the very best climate-friendly alternatives available.
  • We monitor sources of emissions of other climate-changing gases such as methane, which is the main component in fossil gas and contributes towards a quarter of the global warming experienced today. We are calling for ambitious EU legislation to reduce methane emissions, not just from oil and gas produced in the EU but also from all oil and gas imports as the EU imports over 80% of its fossil gas, 90% of its crude oil and 40% of its coal from non-EU countries.

Why we need your support now

Biodiversity is essential for a healthy environment. Over-exploitation of any wildlife species, regardless of legality, disrupts the delicate balance of our global ecosystems, which in turn negatively impacts the stability of water sources, food production and the climate.

An Actively Calving Glacier With Wildlife

Donors have a vital role to play in bringing about changes by supporting EIA and other groups dedicated to tackling the root causes of the illegal wildlife trade and global warming. And, in doing so, also preventing habitat loss of endangered species and future pandemics.

How to support our work to fight climate change

We hope you will consider supporting our work.

Thank you!