In 73 minutes on Tuesday afternoon, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and five other officials officially opened the 15th global talks to save nature from human destruction, another 4,000 hectares of forests were counted. around the world have been lost by the same force.
This is the kind of damage the meeting is seeking to prevent as the world confronts a biodiversity crisis that is endangering human health, contributing to food insecurity and exacerbating climate change. climate change.
“Nature is under threat,” Trudeau said at the opening ceremony of COP15 in Montreal.
“The fact that it’s under attack.”
Over the next 14 days, negotiators from all 196 countries around the world are asked to come up with an agreement to both end and begin to restore the ecosystems we have destroyed and damaged.
It has been called the “Paris of nature” in the hope that Montréal will reach an agreement to slow the destruction of nature in the way that the United Nations conference in Paris in 2015 outlined a roadmap to slow it down. Climate Change.
In 2019, the United Nations issued a grim scientific assessment warning that about a quarter of species assessed in both animal and plant groups were at risk of extinction before the end of the century. . The report also says three-quarters of terrestrial ecosystems and two-thirds of marine environments have been “significantly” altered by human action, including agricultural and industrial expansion, consumption patterns, and more. and population growth.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was also in Montreal on Tuesday, urging countries to stop treating nature “like a toilet”.
“The loss of nature and biodiversity comes at a cost to people,” he said.
“The cost that we measure by job loss, famine, disease and death. The cost that we measure by annual loss is estimated at $3 trillion by 2030 from ecosystem degradation. . Costs that we measure by higher water, food and energy prices.”
Nature can help prevent severe damage from climate change, not only by absorbing more of the carbon dioxide that contributes to global warming, but also by reducing the impact of extreme weather.
Nature talks in Montreal are seeking to agree to set 22 goals to reverse biodiversity loss. That would include everything from using less plastic and increasing urban green spaces to finding money to help pay for it.
While all goals are dependent on each other for success, the biggest benefit would be an agreement to protect 30% of the world’s land, inland waters and coastal waters. from development by 2030.
But even before UN nature talks COP15 officially opened on Tuesday afternoon, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, executive secretary of the UN convention on biodiversity, warned that everything went wrong.
“Some progress has been made, but not as much as needed or expected,” Mrema said at a press conference in Montreal on Tuesday morning. “And I personally have to admit that I don’t feel that the delegates have gone as far as we expected.”
Formal talks are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, but the countries have gradually come up with a draft agreement over the past few years. Over the weekend, negotiators spent three days in a working group hoping to turn that draft into something more manageable.
It doesn’t work.
Guido Broekhoven, head of policy for the International World Wildlife Fund, said the main goal of 30% protection by 2030 has not even been put forward due to time constraints.
For now, the draft does not agree even on what land and water areas should be protected, or how much.
Canada has its own goal of protecting 30% of its land and coastal waters by 2030, and has now reached about 14% of both. Globally, about 16% of land and inland waters are protected to some degree, and about 8% of marine and coastal areas.
Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said 30% is the minimum that must be protected.
Prime Minister Trudeau opened the talks on Tuesday with a pledge to add an additional $350 million to Canada’s global financing to protect international biodiversity. Québec Prime Minister François Legault told delegates that his province would commit to reaching a target of 30% within Québec by 2030.
More protests are expected at the event, which is expected to attract 17,000 delegates over the next two weeks. It first became known on Tuesday when a small group of indigenous protesters began drumming and singing during Trudeau’s opening speech.
After about three minutes, they were escorted out of the room by security.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 6, 2022.
Bob Weber in Edmonton, Mia Rabson in Ottawa and Jacob Serebrin in Montreal.