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Climate and Nature Crises

The COP15 biodiversity and COP26 climate summits this year are a key opportunity for bold global leadership on the twin nature and climate crises. Implementing ambitious climate action and nature recovery policy at home is 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 last year, 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 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 next few months, Wildlife and Countryside Link will be 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. We’ll be developing our recommendations on how the four nations can develop a strong negotiating position capable of influencing the success of the post-2020 biodiversity framework. This includes calling for legally-binding targets for 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.

In January 2021, the group published a briefing titled ‘A Global Goal for People and Nature’, which looks at the first of these issues and sets out the importance of international targets to halt and reverse the decline of nature. We’ll be updating this page with more of our recommendations and activities over the next few months.

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 this year’s international summits.

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.

As the host of this year’s COP26 climate summit, the UK must champion the role that nature could play in mitigating and adapting to climate change and do this in a way that is complementary to any international agreements made under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Going into the talks with a clear demonstration of how we are linking up nature and climate at home will be crucial to encourage other leaders to do the same.

In the run-up to COP26, Link 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.

Covid-19 may have derailed 2020 as being a ‘super year’ for the environment, but through global leadership at COP15 and COP26 the UK could be instrumental in helping 2021 claim the title.

Please contact Imogen Cripps (imogen@wcl.org.uk) if you would like to know more about our work in this area.

Become a WCL member

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.

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