COP15 - the UN Conference on Biodiversity

14th September 2021

With COP26 fast approaching, we are hearing quite a bit about the climate crisis. We don’t hear so much about COP26’s little brother, COP15, the UN Conference on Biodiversity, set up to tackle the biodiversity loss and extinction emergency.

This is problematic. In June 2021, the two expert scientific bodies advising the UN on the climate and biodiversity crises, the IPCC and IBPES, issued their first ever joint report. In it, they said that unless the world tackles the climate and biodiversity crises together, it will fail in tackling both.

So it was important that COP15 was scheduled to be held in Kunming, China, starting on 11 October. As Covid will prevent meeting in person, the main conference has been postponed to April 2022, but a high-level conference will still be held online in October.

The responses of the world’s governments so far have treated the problems as separate, with damaging consequences. The report states that some of the proposed “fixes” for the climate emergency, such as planting bioenergy crops over large land areas, and trees in areas that have not previously been forested, cause damage to ecosystems, as well as limiting land available for food production. Subsidies continue at scale for activities harmful to nature, such as deforestation, over-fertilisation and over-fishing.

Ironically, restoring ecosystems is among the quickest and cheapest climate interventions available, as well as providing much-needed habitats for plants and animals. The report says that improved management of cropland and grazing systems alone could save between three and six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions each year. These measures need to be accompanied, however, by sweeping cuts in man-made emissions.

If you want to see what legislation to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises together could look like, read the Climate and Ecology Bill at www.ceebill.uk.