Global Summit Tries to Slow Biodiversity Crisis as Species Wink Out around the World

Global Summit Tries to Slow Biodiversity Crisis as Species Wink Out around the World

Over the next 12 days, delegates from around the world will try to hammer out a Paris-style agreement to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

The United Nations biodiversity conference will only feature one world leader, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. There will be far fewer celebrities, media outlets, and attendees than at last month’s U.N. Climate Summit in Egypt. However, its outcomes are crucial to achieving global climate goals.

” We need to emphasize the direct connection between climate change, biodiversity,” stated Elizabeth Maruma Mrema (executive secretary of the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity). “We always say climate change is responsible for recent disasters such as floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other natural disasters. But where are these disasters occurring? All of them are linked to biodiversity and unless we protect and restore it, climate change will continue .”

This year’s nature-centered talks, already two years behind schedule, have a lot of work ahead. There are goals to protect 30 percent of the world’s lands and oceans by 2030, secure more financing for conservation, and end subsidies that harm nature. To achieve these goals, negotiators must overcome many obstacles.

While Canada hosts the summit in Montreal and China holds the rotating presidency of the convention, the two countries must cooperate to manage the talks. Negotiations over a 10-year framework have dragged on for months, some countries are wary about agreeing to specific targets, and the United States is unable to vote on procedures because it has never ratified the convention.

Climate leaders and biodiversity experts say the stakes have never been higher but have been given too little attention.

The biodiversity crisis “requires a similar level of effort and actions” as the climate crisis, according to Steven Guilbeault (Canada’s minister of environment, climate change).

” When we conserve and restore forests, wetlands, and other natural resources, we support nature through carbon sequestration,” he stated.

The plan for a decade

The most pressing challenge will be finalizing a framework to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.

The last 10-year framework–laid out in 2010–set targets for dramatically reducing the loss of natural habitats and expanding conservation areas. But none of those 20 targets was met, raising questions about how ambitious the next round of targets should be.

” There’s a lot pressure not to backtrack,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, said. “But there’s also a lot pressure to set targets that countries believe are achievable in the next seven year .”

Much remains unresolved as we enter the talks. Negotiators have been meeting for months and there has been little progress in resolving differences before the summit. The current draft contains multiple goals, 20-plus targets and scores of bracketed text that remains contentious.

Mrema stated Tuesday that the delegates did not go “as far” as expected and that they would need to revise the text and find compromise. China would be the president if they fail to do so, according to Li Shuo, a senior international policy advisor at Greenpeace East Asia.

Experts believe that the summit’s success is vital because nature is the foundation of life on this planet. It also contributes trillions of dollars to the global gross domestic product, which makes it a threat to biodiversity and the global economy.

” The negotiations here at the COP must succeed,” Inger Andersonsen, chief of U.N. Tuesday’s press conference featured statements from Inger Andersen, head of the U.N. Environment Programme. “If the web is broken, we will also fail with it

Protecting nature a la Paris

At the heart of this year’s meeting is a new deal that aims to protect roughly one-third of all land and sea by 2030. Guilbeault described it as the equivalent to the 1.5 degree Celsius temperature goal set out in the Paris climate accord.

More than 100 countries have backed that target. It was difficult to get all countries to agree.

Some countries in the developing world are pushing for more funding to meet their new binding goals. Others, such as Indonesia, are more resource-dependent and have opposed any numerical protection. In order to protect their important role in conservation, Indigenous groups want to make sure that any deal does not lead to land grabs.

More funding is essential. A recent U.N. report found that investments in nature-based solutions need to triple by 2030, to $484 billion annually, for the world to limit global warming and halt biodiversity loss. According to the report, subsidies for energy and agriculture that damage nature must be redirected to its restoration.

Many issues raised at the U.N.’s climate summit in Egypt last month could impact biodiversity outcomes. These include a push for private-sector investment to protect nature, climate damages payments, and reform of multilateral development banks.

But Shuo of Greenpeace warned that too close a relationship could prove dangerous if it means lumping together all finance instead of allocating it to specific outcomes.

Still playing the game

In his opening speech, Trudeau pledged $350 million to global biodiversity efforts, in addition to the 1 billion Canadian dollars he has already committed to nature-based climate solutions by 2026.

The world’s largest countries, which are home to vast forests, coastlines, and wetlands, have the power to change the direction of nature loss, he said. He cited Russia, China and Brazil as examples.

Notably, the U.S. is the only U.N. member state that has not ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity due to persistent congressional opposition (Climatewire, Oct. 14, 2021).

This prevents it voting on procedures that will continue to shape the treaty. Critics claim that the U.S. is not participating in voting on procedures that continue to shape the treaty.

However, activists claim that the U.S. continues to move forward independently to meet some of the U.N. biodiversity goals and objectives.

” While they may not be at the table, they are very in the game,” stated Will Gartshore (senior director for government affairs at the World Wildlife Fund).

The U.S. joined a group of nations earlier this year in pledging to protect 30 percent of the world’s land and seas by 2030. The Biden administration presented a roadmap for nature-based solutions to climate problems at last month’s climate negotiations. It also included efforts to increase funding. Monica Medina has been appointed special envoy by the State Department for biodiversity and water resources.

The U.S. can help parties in Montreal to agree on clear language in the final framework, Gartshore stated.

An agreement is essential to end what U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres calls a war against nature.

” We treat nature like a bathroom,” he stated at Tuesday’s Montreal opening ceremony.

“We have to take responsibility for the damage that we have done,” he said. .”

Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2022. E&E News delivers vital news to professionals in the energy and environment industries.

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