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UN, Nigeria, others commit to global action against environmental depletion

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To protect the global environment from excessive heating, the United Nations Secretary-General, Anthonio Guterres has stressed the need for countries to embrace renewable energy.

He said building a global coalition for carbon neutrality by mid-century would be the UN’s central objective, stressing that countries need credible mid-term goals and plans that are aligned with the objective.

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The UN scribe, who spoke at the virtual COP26 roundtable on Clean Power Transition, said achieving zero emissions by 2050, will require an urgent transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

He said it is both an injustice and impediment to sustainable development, a situation where about 789 million people across the developing world are without access to electricity, three-quarters of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to him, inclusivity and sustainability are key to supporting African countries, while underscoring that all nations need to be able to provide access to clean and renewable energy that prevents “the dangerous heating of our planet”.

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He appealed to developed nations to fulfill their annual pledge for $100 billion to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

The UN official underscored “the vital importance of adaptation” as “a moral imperative” going by the challenge of drought and flooding faced by the world.

“While only 20 per cent of climate finance is earmarked for it, adaptation requires “equal attention and investment.

“The forthcoming climate adaptation summit on 25 January is an opportunity to generate momentum in this much-neglected area. Despite huge amounts of money that have been reserved for COVID-19 recovery and stimulus measures, sustainable investments are still not being prioritised,” he noted.

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MEANWHILE, piqued by the unprecedented rate at which the natural world continues to disappear, Nigeria and 50 other countries have committed to protecting at least 30per cent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030

The commitment followed a virtual launch of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People at the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity, hosted by President Emmanuel Macron of France in cooperation with the World Bank and the United Nations in Paris.

At the launch, British Minister for Pacific and the Environment, Zac Goldsmith, said there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in efforts to protect and restore nature.

“So, as co-host of the next Climate COP, the UK is absolutely committed to leading the global fight against biodiversity loss and we are proud to act as Co-Chair of the High Ambition Coalition.

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“We have an enormous opportunity at this year’s Biodiversity Conference in China to forge an agreement to protect at least 30per cent of the world’s land and ocean by 2030. I am hopeful our joint ambition will curb the global decline of the natural environment, so vital to the survival of our planet,” he said.

For the Minister of Environment and Energy of Costa Rica, Andrea Meza, protecting 30per cent of the planet will undoubtedly improve the quality of life of citizens, and help achieve a fair, decarbonized, and resilient society.

He stressed that healing and restoring nature is a key step towards human wellbeing, creating millions of quality green and blue jobs and fulfilling the 2030 agenda, particularly as part of sustainable recovery efforts.

Minister of Environment of Japan, Shinjirō Koizumi said: “a thriving local community will provide not only solutions to biodiversity issues but also resilience against intensifying natural disasters due to climate change and emerging infectious diseases. Thus, the Initiative would also adequately serve the purposes of this Coalition.

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Japan will continue to promote the Satoyama Initiative to address those issues based on the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.”

The idea behind the HAC was officially introduced in the PreCOP25, held in Costa Rica in October 2019, by ministers from co-chairs Costa Rica and France and Oceanea, co-chair United Kingdom, along with Finland, Gabon, and Grenada.

In December 2019, Costa Rica and France hosted pioneers meeting in Madrid at the UNFCCC COP25, where countries aligned on focus areas, structure, and a roadmap and formally committed to the goals of the HAC for Nature and People.

They also commit to champion an ambitious global deal to halt species loss and protect ecosystems that are vital to human health and economic security. Their announcement kicks off what Costa Rica, France, and the United Kingdom call an urgent year for action on biodiversity and the climate.

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The league, which is co-chaired by Costa Rica, France, and the United Kingdom, brings together 50 governments from across six continents aiming to secure a global agreement to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and at least 30 per cent of the planet’s ocean by 2030 at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15, which will be held this year in Kunming, China.

The countries are Angola, Armenia, Benin, Botswana, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Ethiopia, European Commission, Finland, France, Gabon, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Japan, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Mozambique, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Romania, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom.

As of today, the countries together harbour 28per cent of global terrestrial biodiversity (using vertebrates as a proxy) and a quarter of the world’s terrestrial carbon stores (biomass and soil), and 28per cent of ocean biodiversity priority areas, and over a third of the ocean carbon stores.

A recent McKinsey study found that protecting 30 per cent of the planet’s land and at least 30 per cent of the planet’s ocean could create up to 650,000 jobs and support about 30 million jobs in ecotourism and sustainable fishing.

Additional studies also showed that marine protected areas could improve fisheries, recreation, natural hazard protection as well as food security, with the potential to restore fish populations by over 600 percent, with positive spillover effects on commercial fishing as well.

The landmark 2019 IPBES’ Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services also found that about one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades.

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