PARIS: Experts and activists were hoping UN climate talks would end last week with a prominent mention of biodiversity in the final text. They walked away disappointed.
Some say delegates at the COP27 summit missed a key opportunity to acknowledge the connection between the twin climate and nature crises, which many believe have been treated separately for too long.
Failing to address both could mean not only further decimating Earth’s life support systems, but also missing the key climate target of limiting warming to under 1.5 degrees Celsius, they warn.
“We’re doomed if we don’t solve climate, and we’re doomed if we don’t solve biodiversity,” Basile van Havre, co-chair of the UN biodiversity negotiations, told AFP.
At the COP15 UN biodiversity talks next month, dozens of countries will meet to hammer out a new framework to protect animals and plants from destruction by humans.
The meeting comes as scientists warn that climate change and biodiversity damage could cause the world’s sixth mass extinction event.
Such destruction of nature also risks worsening climate change.
The oceans have absorbed most of the excess heat created by humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions and, along with forests, are important carbon sinks.
“(Nature) is up to a third of the climate solution. And it is a proven technology,” Brian O’Donnell, director of Campaign for Nature, told AFP.
He said oceans in particular are unsung “superheroes”, which have absorbed carbon and heat, at the cost of acidification and coral-killing heatwaves.
As the world warms, species and ecosystems can also play a crucial role in building resilience. Mangroves, for example, can protect against coastal erosion caused by rising seas linked to a warming planet.
Perhaps the most attention on the natural world at COP27 came during a visit by Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will take office in January.
He has vowed to halt the rampant deforestation of the Amazon seen under incumbent Jair Bolsonaro and announced during the climate talks plans to create a ministry for indigenous people, custodians of the rainforest.
The crucial “30 by 30” biodiversity target also got a boost when a bloc of West African nations vowed to adhere to the goal of protecting 30 per cent of the natural world by 2030.