Solving the Climate and Biodiversity Emergencies

13 December 2019

We know that life on Earth is facing two interlinked emergencies – climate, and biodiversity – both of which result from human pressure on the natural world, and both of which have only a small window of time left in which we can act to solve them.

Each crisis makes the other worse. Every time we clear or log a forest, drain a wetland, dry out a peatland, bleach a coral reef, over-exploit a fish stock, trawl a seagrass bed or dam a wild river, we make things worse, whether exacerbating the climate crisis, or further damaging biodiversity; in turn, reducing ecosystem integrity and stability. Carbon, formerly safely stored in those ecosystems, is released.  Once damaged, these natural ecosystems are then more vulnerable to further loss and damage from drought, fire, acidification, deoxygenation and climate change.  All of which risks increasing the release of GHGs to the atmosphere and making the future for biodiversity on which our lives depend ever more tenuous. Indigenous peoples appreciate this more than most, often having a closer and deeper relationship with nature; yet their wisdom is ignored, their territories invaded and destroyed, and their human rights disregarded in the name of the most climate- and nature-unfriendly initiatives.

Preventing further damage, and improving the integrity of natural and agricultural ecosystems is urgent. We can and must draw a line under the downwards spiral we are on. Unless we act to solve both emergencies together, we will likely fail on both.

The good news is that conversations at this COP have started to occur on the need to promote integrated solutions – and where better than in revised NDCs, that must be developed early next year? Synergistic implementation of the Rio Conventions can and must be achieved.  ECO thinks it's time to operationalize the ecosystem provisions of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. We hope COP25 sets a path for robust action to protect and restore biodiversity and ecosystem integrity at COP26… Something the Paris Agreement calls on all Parties to achieve

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