COP27 Presidency Connects Climate and Biodiversity
The day started with a High-Level Opening on “Connecting Climate and Biodiversity,” which set the agenda for addressing the urgent need for scaled-up integrated responses. The day also saw the launch of the “ENACT – Enhancing Nature-based Solutions for Climate Transformation” initiative in collaboration with Germany and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
COP27 President H.E. Sameh Shoukry said, “Biodiversity on our planet is at the heart of people’s economic, social, and cultural well-being, but climate change is accelerating biodiversity loss around the globe. The rapid destruction of ecosystems is increasing our vulnerability to the impact of climate change. We cannot address biodiversity loss without ramping up our implementation of climate solutions. They are not mutually exclusive. Through initiatives such as ENACT, the Egyptian COP27 Presidency will champion the integration of well-coordinated nature-based solutions on a global scale that are as urgent as our response to climate change.”
ENACT initiative Goals and Focus Areas
The ENACT initiative aims to:
• Enhance the protection from and resilience to climate impacts of at least 1 billion vulnerable people, including at least 500 million women and girls.
• Secure up to 2.4 billion hectares of healthy natural and sustainable agricultural ecosystems through the protection of 45 million ha, sustainable management of 2 billion ha, and restoration of 350 million ha.
• Significantly increase global mitigation efforts through protecting, conserving, and restoring carbon-rich terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems.
Coral Reefs and Biodiversity
Coral reefs were also highlighted during Biodiversity Day at COP27 because they have the highest ecosystem biodiversity and directly support over 500 million people worldwide, most of whom live in developing countries. The only hope for survival among the most threatened ecosystems is to keep global average temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
With COP27 taking place at Sharm El Sheikh, coral reefs have a special significance. The Red Sea’s corals are among the last surviving reefs in the twenty-first century, and the Red Sea Initiative, launched last week by the Egyptian government in collaboration with the United States through USAID, UNDP, and the Global Fund for Coral Reefs, is an example of preserving valuable biodiversity and ecosystems.
Hope for Coral Reefs: There was discussion about the effects of climate change on our ocean’s coral reefs, particularly in Egypt’s Red Sea, and the work being done to make a difference through science and innovation. The session also discussed the importance of conserving marine life.
Advance and institutionalize action toward valuing and conserving biodiversity while responding to the adverse impacts of Climate Change
The opening ceremony hosted by the COP27 Egyptian Presidency and UNEP introduced and guided the day across three pillars focused on the biodiversity and climate nexus, addressing successful solutions benefiting nature, climate and people, and finally discussing how to scale urgent climate and nature action. The Egyptian Presidency announced during the ceremony, in a speech delivered by H.E. Min. of Environment Dr. Fouad, to protect its coral reef in the Red Sea and associated ecosystems.
The Egyptian Pavilion hosted a number of events aimed at preserving and restoring biodiversity. Among these were sessions co-hosted by Google on “Addressing biodiversity and deforestation to mitigate climate change – Supporting Glasgow commitments and Egypt’s led ecosystem-based approach initiative” and “Creating a soundscape using the sounds of healthy reefs.”
The connection explained
The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) explained that the loss of biodiversity is already significantly affecting regional and global changes in climate. While natural ecosystems play an important role in regulating climate and can help to sequester and store carbon, the loss of forests, the draining of wetlands, and other environmental degradation have contributed significantly to climate change.
According to the agency, efforts to reduce deforestation and forest degradation and restore ecosystems, for example, could contribute to lowering annual greenhouse gas emissions. “If we invest in nature and nature’s infrastructure, forests, coral reefs, mangroves, coastal forests, well, it protects us from high storms. It provides a habitat for species, but it also stores carbon. So, it has both a mitigation and an adaptation dimension,” Inger Andersen, UNEP Executive Director, told UN News.
Forests, the Amazon, and Promises
Important pledges aimed at protecting forests were made last year at COP26 in Glasgow. “Some of them are beginning to roll off the belt onto reality. But there’s a reason why Egypt framed this as the ‘implementation COP’; because those pledges and promises have to see real action,” stated UNEP chief Andersen. Last week, the European Union also announced a new cooperation framework for reversing deforestation in Guyana, Mongolia, the Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Zambia.
On Wednesday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, President-Elect of Brazil, drew a huge crowd at the pavilions and a meeting room in the afternoon as he stressed that his country would put up a very strong fight against illegal deforestation in the Amazon. He also announced that Brazil aims to host COP30 in 2025. Mr. Lula da Silva also announced the creation of an indigenous ministry in his new administration. “He will place a major emphasis on the Amazon and on tropical forests. And that is, of course, a massive gain for climate, for biodiversity, and for the people of the Amazon,” Ms. Andersen said, reacting to the Brazilian leader’s announcements.
EU vows $1 billion package for climate resilience in Africa
The European Union announced on Wednesday that it would dedicate more than $1 billion in climate funding to assist African countries in strengthening their resilience in the face of the accelerating impact of global warming. The initiative, launched at UN climate talks along with France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark, will combine “existing and new” programs to prepare for future impacts of a warming world, European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans said, without detailing the total amount of new finance. The funding also includes an EU pledge of $60 million for climate “loss and damage” already being suffered, a contentious issue at the negotiations in Egypt.
Timmermans said the initiative, set up in partnership with the African Union, is a “starting point”. It will cover the collection of climate risk data, boosting early warning systems, disaster risk finance, and insurance, as well as helping to attract private finance. Ultimately, “we need a shift of trillions, not billions,” Timmermans said.
US Backs Tough Fossil Fuel Phase Down Pledge at Climate Summit
The US will back a proposal to phase down all fossil fuels at the UN climate conference as long as it focuses on projects with unchecked emissions, climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday.
That gives another boost to a call by India for countries at the conference to commit to phasing down all fossil fuels — going beyond last year’s pledge that focused solely on coal. On Tuesday, the European Union also said it would join the UK and small island nations in backing India’s proposal, adding pressure to the Egyptian COP27 presidency to include the wording in a drafted agreement that could be unveiled late Wednesday. “It has to be unabated oil and gas,” Mr. John Kerry, the US special presidential envoy said “Phase down, unabated, over time. The time is a question, but ‘phase down’ is the language we supported.”
Brazil’s Lula promises a new day for Amazon at COP27
In two appearances, da Silva laid out a vision for the management of the world’s largest rainforest, critical to fighting climate change, that was in stark contrast to that of President Jair Bolsonaro, whose administration witnessed some of the most rapid cutting of forests in decades. “There will be no climate security if the Amazon isn’t protected,” said da Silva, adding that all crimes in the forest, from illegal logging to mining, would be cracked down on “without respite.”
COP27 climate talks seen as key to success at next month’s U.N. nature summit
With the annual U.N. climate summit in its final week, many of the world’s environment ministers assembled in Egypt have begun setting their sights on another high-stakes meeting for nature taking place next month. But for those talks on protecting nature to be a success, experts say, governments must bring global warming in check.
“Climate change is one of the big drivers of biodiversity loss,” said David Cooper, the deputy chief of the U.N.’s Convention on Biological Diversity. The U.N. agency will convene its next global summit on biodiversity next month in Montreal, after host country China postponed the event four times through the global COVID-19 pandemic.
At the COP15 talks scheduled for Dec. 7-19, national delegations will hash out a new global deal to protect plummeting wildlife populations worldwide and halt the continuing degradation of landscapes. Campaigners are calling for a full-fledged “Paris Agreement for nature” under which countries set national conservation targets and then report routinely on their progress in meeting them.
‘Paris Agreement for nature imperative at Cop15, architects of climate deal say
The architects of the Paris Agreement have urged world leaders to reach an ambitious sister deal for nature at the Cop15 biodiversity conference this December while warning that limiting global heating to 1.5C is impossible without protecting and restoring ecosystems. Christiana Figueres, Laurence Tubiana, Laurent Fabius, and Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, who helped design the Paris agreement, said that Cop15 would be an “unprecedented” opportunity to turn the tide on nature’s loss. It follows scientific warnings that humans are driving the sixth mass extinction of life on Earth, with 1m species in danger of extinction. The biodiversity summit takes place in Montreal, Canada just two weeks after Cop27 in Egypt, where governments will negotiate this decade’s targets for preventing biodiversity loss.
“The two need to be looked at as being on the same wavelength, and not one higher than the other,” Elizabeth Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), told UN News. Four of the key architects of the Paris Agreement have officially asked world leaders to deliver an ‘ambitious and transformative’ global biodiversity agreement in the upcoming COP15 on biodiversity. “The climate and nature agendas are entwined…Only by taking urgent action to halt and reverse the loss of nature this decade, while continuing to step up efforts to rapidly decarbonize our economies, can we hope to achieve the promise of the Paris Agreement,” they said in a statement.