Ahead of the crucial COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the EU is calling on world leaders to address climate change and biodiversity loss in an integrated manner. As confirmed by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessments and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, protecting and restoring nature is essential to reduce emissions and adapt to a warmer world. Without urgent action to halt and reverse biodiversity loss, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to limit warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will not be achieved.
The UN Climate Conference COP26 in Glasgow and the Biodiversity Conference COP15, to take place from 25 April to 8 May 2022 in China, are crucial meetings for life on Earth, with existential implications for humankind. Next week’s Glasgow conference represents a key opportunity in the lead up to COP15 to capitalize on the synergies between the climate and biodiversity agenda and provide the impetus needed for achieving an ambitious biodiversity accord next year.
Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičijus said:
Climate change and biodiversity loss are closely interrelated. Both pose an existential threat to humankind. The climate crisis is already having growing impacts on people in Europe and across the globe. If we want to avert the growing devastating impact on our societies, economies and the environment, we need to go towards global net-zero emissions and protect and restore nature – our strongest ally in the fight against climate change.
At the Glasgow climate talks Commissioner Sinkevičijus will take part in an event during the Nature Day (6 November). The events of the day will aim to ensure the importance of nature and sustainable land use are part of global action on climate change and a clean, green recovery. He will also be speaking at the EU Ocean Day – a side event on 9 November, and World Biodiversity Summit: Life Below Water – “Harnessing the Blue Economy through Investment & Innovation" – a side event on 10 November.
A High Level side event on 3 November ‘The Way Forward: Bridging the gap on nature from COP26 to COP15’, hosted by the governments of Costa Rica, France and the UK, will demonstrate high-level commitment to maintain momentum on ambitious action on nature between COP26 to COP15, including by joining forces across the three high level coalitions – the High Ambition Coalition, the Global Ocean Alliance and the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature. The latter was endorsed by Commission President von der Leyen and 90 other Heads of State and Government.
With the European Green Deal, Europe is leading by example, creating pathways for a nature-positive, carbon neutral and equitable world. In particular, in its various policies, the Commission will strive to promote solutions that are inspired and supported by nature ('nature-based solutions') as a green business opportunity for farmers, foresters and land managers. Nature–based solutions are actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural and modified ecosystems, simultaneously providing environmental, social and economic benefits and helping build resilience. Nature–based solutions contribute to biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation, as well as multiple other objectives.
The Commission is currently preparing a proposal for a Nature Restoration Law that will set legally binding targets in the EU to restore degraded ecosystems for the benefit of biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation.
The natural world is disappearing at an unprecedented rate. The biggest driver behind the global decline in nature is land and sea use change. Climate change is not only a direct driver of nature loss, it is also exacerbating the impact of other drivers. This complex interplay between climate change, species and ecosystems offers an opportunity to maximise the synergies between them and design mutually supportive policies which drive action from the global to the local scale.
By conserving and restoring nature that sequesters high volumes of carbon we can lower risk to species and ecosystems and help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Evidence shows that protecting at least 30% of the land and of the ocean globally would not only help to reverse adverse ecological impacts and help reduce species extinction risk but will also increase resilience and adaptation to climate change.
Under the European Green Deal, the European Commission adopted its EU Biodiversity Strategy last year, which aims to put Europe's biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030. It commits to establishing a larger EU-wide network of effectively managed protected areas covering 30% of land and 30% of sea, with one third of this area strictly protected. The Strategy also sets out a wide range of commitments and measures aimed at restoring nature, enabling the necessary transformational change and expresses the Commission's determination to mobilise all tools of external action and international partnerships to help develop and implement an ambitious new UN Global Biodiversity Framework.
News release: UN Biodiversity Summit COP 15 Phase One: EU leading the ambition for a new deal to protect people and planet
- Publication date
- 29 October 2021