Monday, June 27

‘Change is coming’: UN establishes Paris-style plan to cut extinction rate tenfold | The Biodiversity

Eliminating plastic pollution, reducing pesticide use by two-thirds, halving the rate of introduction of invasive species and eliminating $ 500 billion (£ 360 billion) of harmful environmental government subsidies a year are among the goals of a new draft of a Paris-style UN agreement for biodiversity loss.

The goals set by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to help stop and reverse the ecological destruction of Earth by the end of the decade also include protecting at least 30% of the world’s oceans and land. and provide a third of the climate crisis. mitigation through nature by 2030.

The last drought The agreement, which follows grueling virtual scientific and financial negotiations in May and June, will be discussed by governments ahead of a key summit in the Chinese city of Kunming, where the final text will be negotiated.

Along with the preliminary 2030 goals, the new mid-century goals include reducing the current rate of extinctions tenfold, improving the integrity of all ecosystems, valuing nature’s contribution to humanity, and providing the financial resources to achieve view.

The Guardian understands that the summit, scheduled for October, is expected to be delayed for a third time due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is now likely to take place in Kunming in the first half of 2022, pending in-person preparatory negotiations that could take place in Switzerland early next year.

Basile van Havre, co-chair of the CBD working group responsible for drafting the agreement, said the goals were based on the latest science. He added that, if adopted, it could represent a significant change in world agriculture.

“Change is on the way [in food production], “he said.” We will be many more in 10 years and they will need to be fed, so it is not about reducing the level of activity. It is about increasing production and improving nature.

“Cut nutrient runoff in half, cut pesticide use by two-thirds, and eliminate plastic discharge – they’re big. I am sure they will attract attention as they present a significant change, particularly in agriculture. “

Last month, Van Havre warned that the world was running out of time for an ambitious deal in Kunming, which is part of a multi-decade ambition to live in harmony with nature by 2050.

Scientists have warned that humanity is causing the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history, driven by excessive resource consumption and overpopulation. One million species are at risk of extinction in large part due to human activities, according to the UN assessment, which threaten the healthy functioning of ecosystems that produce food and water.

Dead fish in Tehatta, West Bengal, India, July 2, 2021.
The plan includes a goal of protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030. Photography: Soumyabrata Roy / NurPhoto / REX / Shutterstock

In the latest set of 21 targets to be negotiated in Kunming, nature-based solutions such as peatland restoration and the adoption of regenerative agriculture will contribute at least 10 GtCO2e (gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year to global climate crisis mitigation efforts, about a third. of the 32 GtCO2e annual emission reduction required as identified in the United Nations Environment Program 2020 Emissions Gap Report – while ensuring that there are no negative impacts on biodiversity.

“We wanted to put [the contribution of nature] in an absolute number. We do not control what is happening on the climate change agenda, but science tells us that this is what we can contribute to the problems, “said Van Havre. “The challenge will be how we do carbon accounting.”

Other goals include efforts to restore marine and freshwater habitats, maintain the genetic diversity of wild and domesticated species, increase financial flows to developing countries, improve commercial disclosures on how their activities harm the environment, and respect the rights of indigenous communities in decision-making on biodiversity.

Professor Sir Robert Watson, who previously headed the UN’s science organizations for climate and biodiversity, and held various high-level positions in the UK government, NASA, the World Bank and the US government. ., Welcomed the draft goals but cautioned that some were unrealistic and difficult to measure. Governments have failed to fully meet the targets to stop the destruction of nature for decades in a row, including the targets for the 2010s, which are known as the Aichi targets.

“Overall, the document recognizes and addresses all the key issues, as well as the 20 Aichi targets. The question is whether governments can establish national targets and appropriate regulatory and legislative frameworks to allow other actors, especially the private sector and financial institutions, to play their role, ”said Watson.

“I would have hoped that the document would have explicitly recognized that the problems of biodiversity, climate change and land degradation must be addressed together and the objectives, goals and actions of the three conventions must be developed and harmonized together.”

Goals and targets must now be negotiated in face-to-face conversations, where they will be updated after receiving feedback from national governments. Once agreed, the final agreement will be adopted by all 196 parties to the CBD.

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, CBD Executive Secretary, said: “Urgent political action is required at the global, regional and national levels to transform economic, social and financial models so that trends that have exacerbated biodiversity loss stabilize by 2030 and allow the recovery of natural ecosystems in the next 20 years, with net improvements by 2050 ”.

Find more coverage on the age of extinction here and follow the biodiversity reporters Phoebe Weston Y Patrick Greenfield on Twitter for the latest news and features

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