Climate change Environment

The world must tackle climate change and nature loss together: UN panel

The world must tackle climate change and nature loss together as they are mutually interdependent for sustainability. The UN panel groups; intergovernmental panels on climate and biodiversity loss warned against measures to combat global warming that harm biodiversity.

This was the first-ever collaboration between the United Nations’ intergovernmental panels on climate and nature loss. The scientists said that while the two threats were mutually reinforcing, they have historically been treated as though were independent of each other.

A peer-reviewed workshop report between experts from the IPBES biodiversity and IPCC climate panels warned that several planned interventions against global warming will adversely affect nature.

They warned against planting bioenergy crops over large land areas, which are damaging to ecosystems.

The scientists also cautioned against planting trees as carbon sinks in ecosystems that have not historically been forested. They warned this would likely damage biodiversity and food production.

The panel called for an end to the loss and degradation of carbon- and species-rich ecosystems on land and oceans.

The experts warned against subsidies supporting harmful activities to biodiversities such as deforestation, over-fertilization, and over-fishing. These activities must stop. They also underlined the need for changes in individual consumption practices.

Ecosystem restoration is among the cheapest and quickest climate interventions available. It can offer much-needed additional habitat for plants and animals, the researchers said.

Improved management of cropland and grazing systems alone could save three-six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions a year.

Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC said, “Climate change and biodiversity loss combine to threaten society — often magnifying and accelerating each other.” 

Lee said the report is an “important step” in the collaboration between scientific fields focusing on climate and biodiversity.

Alexandre Antonelli, director of science at Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens, said the IPCC and IPBES collaboration was “long overdue”.

“Although climate change and biodiversity loss pose unseen threats to our future, the good news is that we can tackle both through the right measures -– those that are based on solid science,” said Antonelli.

IPBES chair Ana Maria Hernandez Salgar stressed that solutions such as nature preservation or restoration would only work in countering climate change and biodiversity loss if they were accompanied by sweeping cuts in manmade emissions.

“Transformative change in all parts of society and our economy is needed to stabilize our climate, stop biodiversity loss and chart a path to the sustainable future we want,” she said.

“This will require us to address both crises together, in complementary ways.”

Environmental groups welcomed the collaboration and the joint assessment’s conclusion that nature alone cannot be relied upon to offset humanity’s vast carbon emissions.

Professor of global environmental politics at the College of the Atlantic, Doreen Stabinsky said, “The report unequivocally concludes that land- and ocean-based actions that capture carbon must be in addition to, and not in place of, ambitious reductions of emissions from fossil fuels.”

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