The Paris agreement was a milestone for global warming. Do we need a similar agreement to protect nature?
The architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord have urged world leaders to strike a similar deal on nature at the upcoming COP15 biodiversity conference.
Global warming cannot be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius without protecting nature, they warn.
While the United Nations COP27 climate summit enters its final days, government officials and activists are now looking ahead to the high-stakes meeting for nature next month.
It will take place in Montreal, after host country China postponed the event four times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, the architects of the 2015 Paris Climate Accord – which aims to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius – issued a statement urging world leaders to strike a similar deal on nature.
“There is no way to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius without action on the protection and restoration of nature,” reads the declaration signed by Laurent Fabius, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, Christiana Figueres and Laurence Tubiana, who helped design the Paris Agreement.
COP15 will be an “unprecedented” opportunity to turn the tide loss of naturethey add.
At the COP15 talks scheduled for December 7-19, national delegations will hammer out a new global deal to protect the world’s plummeting wildlife populations and halt the continued degradation of landscapes.
Why do activists want a Paris Accord for nature?
The architects of the historic climate agreement call for a “Paris Agreement for Nature”, whereby countries set national conservation targets and report regularly on their progress towards achieving them.
They say the climate and nature agendas are inevitably “intertwined”.
Climate change is rapidly becoming one of the main drivers of biodiversity loss, they explain in their statement. Humanity’s accelerated destruction of nature undermines its ability to provide crucial services, including climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Earth has seen five mass extinction events and scientists believe the planet’s sixth is underway, with animal and plant species disappearing at a rate not seen in 10 million years.
In the world wildlife crisis is driven by habitat loss and pollution, with climate change posing an increasing threat as global temperatures rise.
Without significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, up to half of all species will face temperatures and conditions beyond their ability to survive by the end of the century, according to a published study. in 2018 in the journal Science.
Those who cannot migrate or adapt will perish.
The loss of forests and other vital ecosystems like coral reefs and seagrasses will also leave the world with fewer natural forms of carbon sequestration.
Already, these “carbon sinks” absorb about half of the excess emissions that humans release into the air by burning fossil fuels.
“We also see that biodiversity provides solutions to climate change, and that’s why they need to be considered together,” says Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
What would a Paris agreement mean for nature?
Scientists and activists are pushing for next month’s COP15 conference to conclude with a ‘nature-positive’ agreement that commits countries to ensuring there is more spaces and wild creatures in seven years than there is now.
“Leaders need to secure a global agreement to biodiversity which is as ambitious, science-based and comprehensive as the Paris Agreement on climate change,” read Wednesday’s joint statement.
“Like the Paris Agreement, it must encourage countries to commit and step up their action commensurate with the scale of the challenge.”
They add that it must be inclusive, rights-based and work for all.
“And it must provide, across the whole of society, immediate action on the ground – our future depends on it.
Activists and delegates say they want to see a strong blanket statement on biodiversity come out of COP27 before heading to Montreal.