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Nature-based solutions at center of COP26 discussions

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At the UN Climate Change Summit in Glasgow, COP26, nature has been on the agenda and a subject of negotiations greater than ever earlier than. Now, leaders are calling for nature, and the vary of ecosystems it encompasses, to be extra particularly included within the textual content of the Paris Agreement.

According to a report launched by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) at COP26, 92 p.c of nations’ new nationally decided contributions (NDCs) to the Paris Agreement on local weather change now embrace measures to sort out nature loss, up from 82 p.c earlier within the yr.

“We know that nature has a key role to play in meeting climate change targets and adapting to climate change, but this was not formally outlined in the Paris Agreement,” says Clement Metivier, a coverage advisor at WWF. “Something that was also not included was the fact that nature encompasses a broad range of ecosystems.”

WWF has developed a listing of particular requests for the place and the way nature must be included within the textual content of the Paris Agreement, reminiscent of the express point out of marine, coastal, freshwater and land ecosystems as sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases, asking for biodiversity loss and local weather change to be addressed collectively as interwoven challenges, and directing finance towards nature-based solutions.

Five years after the signing of the Paris Agreement, wherein nations made commitments to assist restrict international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius over pre-Industrial ranges – generally known as NDCs – this COP has meant to function a stock-take on progress and alternative for nations to extend their ambitions.

Other core points of the COP have additionally taken nature prominently into consideration, together with Article 6 of the Paris Agreement that addresses carbon market regulation, local weather finance and the mixing of the three Rio Conventions, on local weather change, biodiversity and land degradation.

This comes largely in mild of the time period “nature-based solutions” – which is, in lots of senses, interchangeable with “nature” – increasing within the environmental lexicon over the course of the previous couple of years.

 Nature-based solutions: Actions to guard, sustainably handle and restore pure or modified ecosystems that deal with societal challenges successfully and adaptively, concurrently offering human well-being and biodiversity advantages.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Said to have the potential to supply as much as 30 p.c of the local weather change mitigation wanted to restrict international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius about pre-Industrial ranges, nature-based solutions primarily harness the facility of nature and ecosystems to realize the targets set within the Paris Agreement on local weather change and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. They might additionally generate trillions of {dollars} in advantages.

The COP26 presidency, held by the U.Okay., themed the summit round a “Nature Campaign” that advocates for ecosystem and biodiversity conservation serving as the muse for remodeling meals and agriculture methods to develop into extra sustainable. This was preluded by final yr’s Leaders Pledge for Nature, which noticed 92 nations and the E.U. decide to halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030. Then, this June, G7 leaders signed the “Nature Compact,” including an extra dedication to halve carbon emissions by 2030.

With consciousness for nature-based solutions rising, advocates are actually calling for extra particular calls for, reminiscent of extra consideration given to ecosystems with excessive ranges of biodiversity and carbon sequestration. There’s a motion for a stronger concentrate on oceans, which have absorbed nearly 90 p.c of the warmth trapped inside our environment as a consequence of rises in greenhouse gases since 1971 and include monumental numbers of totally different life varieties, most of which stay unknown.

“I wrote to the COP president, Alok Sharma, after doing a survey around the world of scientists involved in ocean acidification,” mentioned Ambassador Peter Thomson, particular envoy to the UN secretary-general for oceans.

“I said to him that he must understand, as president of this COP, that ocean acidification is an existential matter for all species and that this is occurring because of greenhouse gas emissions caused by mankind. Parties need to be aware of the seriousness of this situation.”

Meanwhile, Article 6 of the Paris Agreement stays the one half of the settlement missing agreed-upon guidelines for implementation. Countries have develop into entrenched of their positions in negotiations, because the textual content not directly addresses voluntary carbon markets and buying and selling. As carbon markets are sometimes rooted in Indigenous and historically held lands, there are pervasive fears that with out correct safeguards in place, a long-awaited settlement on this text – which is a precedence consequence of COP26 – might do extra hurt than good.

Now, the significance of safeguards for ecosystems are coming into view as nicely. “It’s really critical, in everything that comes out of those negotiations, to really see this idea of safeguards in terms of human rights but also in terms of protection of ecosystems,” says Metivier. “Anything coming out of the negotiations on Article 6 should include ecosystem integrity.”

“Governments meeting in Glasgow have announced major commitments on forests and land use in the last few days,” mentioned Gavin Edwards, international coordinator and nature lead at COP26 for WWF. “But this is only part of the picture. Nature must be recognized in the COP outcome, and governments must commit to urgently scale up and implement nature-based solutions.”