One Planet Summit kicks off year of crucial environmental discussions

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Paris (AFP)

World leaders will attempt to revive international environmental diplomacy on Monday, with a biodiversity summit that will usher in a critical year for efforts to stem the devastating effects of global warming and species loss.

The momentum on climate and biodiversity came to a standstill in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, a health crisis that experts say illustrates the many diverse dangers of environmental destruction.

The One Planet Summit, a largely virtual event organized by France in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank, will include French President Emmanuel Macron, UN chief Antonio Guterres, German chancellor Angela Merkel and head of the ‘EU Ursula Von der Leyen.

Organizers want to lay the groundwork for UN biodiversity talks – postponed due to the pandemic – which are set to be held in China in October and will see nearly 200 countries attempt to set new targets to preserve the world’s deadly ecosystems. Earth.

France hopes that next week’s summit will bring together climate-related issues and the protection of ecosystems, an Elysee source told AFP, adding that with global warming, the preservation of biodiversity is “Our group life insurance”.

Global efforts to protect and restore nature have so far failed dramatically.

The planet is on the cusp of a mass extinction event in which species are disappearing at 100 to 1,000 times the normal “background” rate, most scientists agree.

The UN’s Scientific Advisory Group on Biodiversity warned in a landmark 2019 report that a million species are threatened with extinction, mostly due to habitat loss and overexploitation.

Human activity, she concluded, had “seriously degraded” three-quarters of the planet’s ice-free land.

– “Climate emergency” –

The picture of climate change is just as dire.

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the nations of the world have pledged to cap global warming “well below” 2 ° C and 1.5 ° C if possible.

With just over 1 ° C of warming so far, the world has experienced a crescendo of deadly droughts, heat waves, flood-causing rains and super storms made more destructive by rising seas.

The European Union’s climate watch service said 2020 was on par with 2016 as the hottest year on record.

Guterres warned last month that nations were not doing enough to avoid devastating temperature rises and urged world leaders to declare a “climate emergency” in their countries.

The next major UN climate summit, COP26, has also been postponed due to the pandemic and is now due to be held in November.

Participants in Monday’s talks are “ready to demonstrate that their commitments lead to concrete actions to preserve and restore biodiversity, and lead systemic transformations of economies,” according to a summit statement.

Leaders will present initiatives on four themes – protecting terrestrial and marine ecosystems, agroecology, financing biodiversity and the link between deforestation, species and human health.

Last October, the UN Biodiversity Expert Panel warned that future pandemics would occur more often, kill more people, and cause even worse damage to the global economy than Covid-19 without fundamental change in the way humans treat nature.

The summit will also launch the High Ambition Coalition – a group of 45 countries led by Costa Rica, France and Britain – which aims to secure a global deal to protect at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans from ‘by 2030.

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