The UN’s environment chief has warned ‘we are at war with nature’ and must ‘make peace’ as countries gather at Cop15 in Montreal to agree a deal to protect nature biodiversity of the planet.
“We have just welcomed the 8 billionth member of the human race to this planet. It’s a wonderful birth of a baby, of course. But we have to understand that the more people there are, the more pressure we put on the Earth,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN environment programme.
“When it comes to biodiversity, we are at war with nature. We have to make peace with nature. Because nature is what sustains everything on Earth…the science is unequivocal.
Andersen stressed that the final text of any agreement must address the “five horsemen of the biodiversity apocalypse”: land-use change; overexploitation; Pollution; the climate crisis; and the spread of invasive species.
More than 10,000 participants are expected at COP15, which is due to run until December 19, with ministers arriving in the second week to help finalize the text. The draft targets included in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) involve proposals to protect 30% of land and seas, reallocate billions of dollars in harmful subsidies and tackle invasive species.
If governments are to reach an ambitious final deal, China must show leadership in the talks, EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told the Guardian.
China, which holds the COP15 presidency, is the world’s biggest carbon emitter – although Canada, the US and Australia have far more CO2 emissions per capita. It will be the first time Beijing has taken the lead on a major UN environmental deal. Cop15 was moved from Kunming to Montreal earlier this year due to China’s zero-Covid policy, but it still presents a chance for the country to show its “ecological civilization” credentials to the world, a much-hyped part of the President Xi Jinping. agenda.
There were fears that Beijing was trying to play down the summit, touted as a potential “Paris moment” for nature, after no world leaders were invited. China’s Environment Minister Huang Runqiu will chair the talks in a role similar to that of Alok Sharma at COP26 in Glasgow.
“I think China’s role is going to be crucial,” Sinkevičius said. “They have a lot of responsibilities and as president [of Cop15], they are in a difficult position. I am satisfied with their commitment so far and they organized a ministerial meeting in Egypt during COP27. We will have to see if this continues. If they want this to be a “Parisian moment” for nature, they have it in their hands, but they must lead.
Biodiversity summit key to limiting global warming to 1.5C, say architects of Paris climate accord, who stressed need to live in balance with nature at climate summit of last month. G20 leaders also highlighted its importance in their communiqué at the summit in Bali, Indonesia.
Governments have never fully met the UN’s biodiversity targets and Andersen said a proper accountability mechanism – similar to the nationally determined contributions that countries submit as part of the climate process – was vital. if the world wanted to keep its commitments this time around.
“This is our third date. [agreeing biodiversity targets]. We learned a lot to understand what happened the previous two times, what worked and what didn’t,” she said. “Right now we are on this trajectory of losing a million of our 8 million species on this planet. This is clearly not a trajectory we want to be on. We need to change the actions we need to take. as human beings: we must eat and live positively for nature.”
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