COP15 is under pressure to lay out new targets for land use and biodiversity as 18 per cent of all global emissions come from agricultural soils.
COP15 delegates know the planet’s chances of tackling climate change hinge on a strong deal for nature. While forests hold vital stores of carbon peatlands are even more important as they cover only three per cent of the world’s land but hold 25 per cent of all carbon stored in soils. Forests absorb around 16 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year but around half is cancelled out when carbon is released by deforestation.
Nature and land play a vital role in climate change and over the past ten years the natural world has mitigated much of the damage caused by climate change by absorbing half of all the greenhouse gases we emit. But nature is being degraded fast and we are losing the vital protection of the natural world.
Agriculture is responsible for the biggest loss of forests with farmland driving the loss of species and a big reduction in biodiversity. Food and farming are a major focus at COP15.
Finance is another key focus as countries with large areas of natural forest are campaigning for the finances to protect it. Increasing numbers of financial institutions in both public and private sectors are embedding nature and biodiversity into their investment strategies. But a large funding gap remains and $700 billion more will be needed each year to restore nature.
COP15 will also be focussed on targets with the summit due to set out a range of new targets for 2030. Setting, and achieving, targets is vital to give governments and the private sector confidence that progress is being made on the preservation and restoration of nature.
Bold nature targets have been announced in the past but have been missed, not least because government accountability is weaker for biodiversity targets than it is for UN climate targets, but COP15 delegates know this year’s conference is a last-chance to create meaningful change.