The architects of the Paris Agreement have urged world leaders to reach an ambitious twin deal for nature at this December’s COP15 biodiversity conference, warning that limiting global warming to 1.5°C is impossible without protecting and restoring ecosystems .
On biodiversity day at the Cop27 climate conference in Egypt, Christiana Figueres, Laurence Tubiana, Laurent Fabius and Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who helped design the Paris Agreement, said Cop15 would be an “unprecedented” opportunity to reverse the trend of loss of nature.
It follows scientific warnings that humans are driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, with 1 million species critically endangered.
The Biodiversity Summit takes place in Montreal, Canada, just two weeks after COP27 in Egypt, where governments will negotiate this decade’s targets on preventing biodiversity loss. Despite ominous scientific warnings about the health of the planet and the consequences for human civilization, no world leaders are expected to attend the meeting, which clashes with the soccer World Cup in Qatar.
In a separate announcement, a group of nearly 350 scientists, indigenous peoples, businesses and NGOs urged presidents and prime ministers to prioritize the nature summit.
“Leaders must secure a global biodiversity deal that is as ambitious, science-based and comprehensive as the Paris Agreement on climate change. Like the Paris Agreement, it must encourage countries to engage and even step up their actions commensurate with the scale of the challenge,” says the joint statement by the planners of the Paris climate agreement.
“There is no path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C without action to protect and restore nature. Only by taking urgent action to halt and reverse the loss of nature this decade, while continuing to step up efforts to rapidly decarbonise our economies, can we hope to deliver on the promise of the Paris Agreement.”
“It has to be inclusive, rights-based and work for everyone. And it must deliver, across society, immediate action on the ground – our future depends on it,” he continues.
Figueres, Tubiana, Fabius and Pulgar-Vidal stated that “humanity’s accelerating destruction of nature is undermining its ability to deliver crucial services, including climate change mitigation and adaptation. As with climate change, it is the most vulnerable communities that bear the greatest impacts of biodiversity loss, from loss of food security and livelihoods to diminishing climate resilience. The climate and nature agendas are intertwined.”
On Tuesday, ministers from some 30 countries met in Sharm el-Sheikh at a side event hosted by Canada and China to discuss the draft nature deal, formally known as the post-2020 biodiversity framework. Critical points in the negotiations have been discussed by governments, including financial support for the deal.
At COP15, China is overseeing a major UN deal for the first time and holds the presidency, though its leaders have so far played a modest role, raising fears that the biodiversity summit could be the “Copenhagen moment” of the nature, a reference to the conference where climate talks fell apart in 2009. Cop15 was moved from China to Canada after several pandemic-related delays and no world leaders were invited by Beijing over fears they are trying to downplay the event in order not to embarrass Xi Jinping, who is not expected to attend.
Helena Gualinga, a climate leader for indigenous Kichwa youth from Sarayaku, Ecuador, said Cop15 was “a once-in-a-decade opportunity to agree on a global deal for nature” and leaders needed to attend and produce an ambitious final agreement.
“Nature and the future of the climate are at stake and we will not be safe until leaders are held accountable. For generations, my community has lived with nature, as I have witnessed the logging and deforestation of our lands wreaking havoc on wildlife, nature and people. Our existence is our resistance, when we support our indigenous rights we safeguard key ecosystems for the planet. We have only this decade to turn things around, yet governments are shirking their responsibilities. Cop15 in Montreal is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to agree a global deal for nature, and we need leaders to show up and deliver,” she said.
Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, one of those civil society urging world leaders to take COP15 seriously, said nature is key to keeping global warming to within 1.5°C of pre-industrial levels.
“To have a 50% chance of reaching 1.5°C and thereby limit tipping point risks, global greenhouse gas emissions need to be halved by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050,” he said. . “Critically, these pathways rely on nature’s continued ability to operate as a carbon sink and repel the worst impacts of climate change: 1.5°C is not a target, it is a biophysical limit. Nature is one of the best climatic solutions to stay within that limit. An ambitious global biodiversity framework at COP15 that addresses the root causes of the decline of the global commons is urgently needed.”