Climate and Nature Crises
Following the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow last year, this year’s COP15 biodiversity summit is a key opportunity for global leaders to demonstrate that they are serious about tackling the nature crisis. The UK must carry the momentum from COP26 and champion ambition at COP15, highlighting the synergies of acting on the twin climate and nature crises simultaneously. Ambitious climate action and nature recovery policy at home will be crucial for the UK to successfully influence these talks and set the global community on a more sustainable path.
Convention on Biological Diversity COP15
The 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook report, published in 2020, painted an alarming picture of the state of the world’s nature. Out of the 20 biodiversity targets set by global leaders at the 2010 UN biodiversity summit in Japan, the report announced that the world collectively failed to meet a single one. In the UK, only three targets were met, and it was revealed that we have gone backwards on six targets.
As world leaders come together again later this year for COP15 in Kunming, China, agreeing on an international deal to bend the curve of diversity loss over the next decade must be a priority. Without decisive action now, we risk the extinction of thousands more species, and the destruction of natural ecosystems worldwide will continue to have far reaching consequences for society, the climate, and our health.
Over the last year, Wildlife and Countryside Link has been working with our sister Links in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland to develop policy proposals for the UK governments in the lead up to COP15, and with colleagues across the sector to highlight the importance of the talks and how recovering biodiversity can help save our world.
We’ve come up with a number of recommendations for how the four nations can develop a strong negotiating position capable of influencing the success of the post-2020 biodiversity framework. This includes action and funding to enable the recovery of species and habitats by 2030, proper delivery of the UK’s 30x30 target, a robust monitoring, reporting, and verification framework to track the state of nature, and commitment to 4-country coordination on nature’s protection. See our report here and policy proposals below.
Making the nature-climate link
The twin climate and nature crises are inextricably linked and it will be impossible to solve one without addressing the other. Emphasising the climate-nature interdependencies and finding solutions that tackle both crises must a key theme of national climate and nature plans.
Nature-based solutions, defined as enhancing nature to help address societal challenges, could play a crucial (and cost effective) role in tackling both the biodiversity and climate crises. Restoring natural ecosystems can both capture and store CO2, whilst helping wildlife recover and boosting resilience of local communities to climate change impacts like flooding. Nature-based solutions capture a wide range of ecosystems, from woodlands, peatlands and grasslands to wetlands, saltmarshes, seagrass meadows, and reefs.
It was positive to see the role of nature in tackling and adapting to the effects of climate change significantly elevated at last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, such as through the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests, announcements on sustainable supply chains, as well as in the Glasgow Climate Pact itself. However, the UK will need to demonstrate that it is serious about joining up efforts and implementing actions on the twin crises.. It should sustain this role through domestic action to pursue more integrated solutions, and by encouraging decision makers across the world to consider synergistic solutions to both challenges as they draw up their plans following COP26 and COP15 for the next decade and beyond.
At Link, we will be calling for the Government to back up its bold pledges on both climate and nature with action on the ground. We want to see recognition of the role that healthy natural ecosystems play in mitigating and adapting to climate change, whilst avoiding using nature-based solutions to offset other sectors to carry on with business as usual. Moreover, we want to see nature-based solutions adopted in ways that deliver genuine benefits for nature and the communities where they are created.
Membership of Wildlife and Countryside Link is open to national and international voluntary or other non-profit organisations based in England. Member organisations must be able to demonstrate an interest in furthering the work of Link, and their aims must include the protection of wildlife, landscape and the quiet enjoyment and appreciation of the countryside. Individual members of the public are not eligible to join Link, but may be interested in joining one of Link's member organisations.