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‘Humanity has become a weapon of mass extinction’: UN | Environment News


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has criticized multinational corporations for turning the world’s ecosystems into “toys for profit” and warned that if not adjusted in the right direction, it will lead to catastrophic consequences. fierce.

“With our endless thirst for unchecked and uneven economic growth, humanity has become a weapon of mass destruction,” he said at the opening of the talks. on biodiversity in Montreal on Tuesday.

Nearly 200 countries gathered for December 7-19 UN Biodiversity Conference15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).

The conference will work towards the adoption of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, a global roadmap for the conservation, protection, restoration and sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems over the next decade. next.

One million species are at risk of extinction, a third of land is severely degraded and fertile soils are being lost, while pollution and climate change are accelerating the degradation of the oceans. .

“We are treating nature like a toilet,” says Guterres. “And ultimately, we are committing suicide,” with the resulting effects on jobs, hunger, disease, and death.

He added: “This conference is our chance to stop this destructive hysteria.

Reversing biodiversity loss

Species are disappearing at a rate not seen in 10 million years. According to the United Nations’ 2022 Global Land Outlook assessment, up to 40% of the land area on Earth is degraded.

More than 10,000 participants, including government officials, scientists and activists, are attending the summit amid calls from environmentalists and businesses to protect natural resources and prevent loss of species.

Negotiators hope that the two-week UN summit will yield an agreement that will ensure more “nature” – animals, plants and healthy ecosystems – by 2030 than what is available. But how that process is pursued and measured will need to be agreed upon by all 196 CBD signatories.

The draft targets for the 10-year framework include a foundational commitment to preserve at least 30 percent of their land and sea by 2030 – a goal often referred to as the “30 by 30” goal. . Currently, only about 17% of the world’s land area is protected in some way, while less than 8% of the global ocean is protected.

The new goal will depend heavily on the participation of indigenous peoples, who manage the land that is home to about 80 percent of Earth’s remaining biodiversity.

Parts still available

Splits have emerged over financial matters, with rich countries under pressure to transfer more money to developing nations for conservation.

Negotiators said the draft agreement still contained many phrases in parentheses – indicating a lack of agreement. While previous iterations of the agreement had around 900 brackets, that number rose to around 1,400 during discussion in the days leading up to COP15.

Some of the most difficult areas include whether efforts to limit climate-warming emissions should be included, whether to impose deadlines for phasing out pesticides, and how to ensure that Poor countries will have the necessary funds to restore degraded areas.

Hopes were dashed by the absence of world leaders, with the exception of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prime Minister Trudeau emphasized that countries need to achieve the “30 x 30” goal. He also said Canada would set aside $350 million for international biodiversity financing.

Meanwhile, economic losses from ecosystem degradation are estimated to reach $3 trillion annually since 2030.

“There’s a lot of disagreement between governments,” Trudeau said. “But if as a world we can’t agree on a fundamental issue like protecting nature, then nothing else matters.”

The UN’s biodiversity talks, held every two years, have never gained the attention of the world’s main environmental focus – the annual meeting. UN discusses climate change. But more and more people are realizing that protecting nature and controlling climate change go hand in hand.

Healthy ecosystems like forests and seagrass beds are key to controlling global warming. At the same time, rising global temperatures are increasingly threatening many ecosystems and species that cannot adapt quickly or migrate to cooler climates.

COP15 is currently chaired by China, but the country is not hosting the meeting because of the COVID pandemic.

China was due to hold the summit in the city of Kunming but postponed the event four times from its original date in 2020 due to COVID before agreeing to hold talks in Montreal.

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