Biodiversity and climate crises need to be tackled together, report finds

50 of the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts have published a peer-reviewed workshop report that shows biodiversity loss and climate change are both driven by human economic activities and mutually reinforce one another, so to resolve either, both need to be tackled together.

A press release issued by the Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) says the report finds that previous policies have largely tackled the two issues independently of each other, and that addressing the synergies between mitigating biodiversity loss and climate change, while considering their social impacts, offers the opportunity to maximise benefits and meet global development goals.

The peer-reviewed workshop report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop between experts selected by a 12-person Scientific Steering Committee assembled by the IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the first ever collaboration between these two intergovernmental bodies.

“Human-caused climate change is increasingly threatening nature and its contributions to people, including its ability to help mitigate climate change. The warmer the world gets, the less food, drinking water and other key contributions nature can make to our lives, in many regions,” said Prof. Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the Scientific Steering Committee.

“Changes in biodiversity, in turn, affect climate change, especially through impacts on nitrogen, carbon and water cycles. The evidence is clear: a sustainable global future for people and nature is still achievable, but it requires transformative change with rapid and far-reaching actions of a type never before attempted, building on ambitious emissions reductions. Solving some of the strong and apparently unavoidable trade-offs between climate and biodiversity will entail a profound shift of individual and economic progress based solely on GDP growth, to one that balances human development with multiple values of nature for a good quality of life, while not overshooting biophysical and social limits.”

The authors of the report also warn that narrowly-focused actions to combat climate change can directly and indirectly harm nature and vice-versa, but many measures exist that can make significant positive contributions in both areas.

Among the most important available actions in the report are:

  • Stopping the loss and degradation of carbon- and species-rich ecosystems on land and in the ocean.
  • Restoring carbon- and species-rich ecosystems.
  • Increasing sustainable agricultural and forestry practices.
  • Enhancing and better-targeting conservation actions, coordinated with and supported by strong climate adaption and innovation.
  • Eliminating subsidies that support local and national activities harmful to biodiversity.

The full report can be found here.

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