Politics round-up: November edition
3 minute read
In contrast to the past few months, November was a more stable month for politics and felt more like business as usual in Westminster. Our new UK Government Ministers have been concentrating on embedding themselves into their new roles and getting to grips with their new briefs.
What came of COP27?
The eleventh month and our eleventh hour for nature.
We saw global political leaders convene in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27). National governments were tasked with agreeing on ways to reduce carbon footprints and emissions to slow down global warming and its disastrous impacts on the natural world.
One major success from the conference was the long-awaited agreement on ‘loss and damage’. Nations finally settled on an agreement to provide financial aid to countries in the global south that have already been impacted by climate disasters and will see greater impacts in the near future. This is a significant step forward for environmental protection as, without a joint approach from nations across the world, we would lose vital natural carbon stores held in the land, forests and seas of these countries, alongside further damage to biodiversity hotspots.
Unfortunately, leaders failed to rule out the use of fossil fuels from their energy portfolios. This means we have missed one of the few opportunities to take meaningful, international action to keep global warming below 1.5C. Governments all around the world will now need to work much harder to meet the required targets to ensure scientific agreements are met.
Laura Young, a member of our Youth Ocean Network, attended COP27 and has reflected on her time in Egypt:
"This conference was disappointing, as a lack of new commitments and clarity on action was obvious. We had reiteration after reiteration of old pledges and promises which really continued the frustration as we stand still on climate action after a year of distractions and stalling.
It was good, however, to finally see a Loss and Damage Fund set up, to provide vital climate finance to vulnerable nations, something which has been campaigned for for over 30 years.
Credit: Laura Young
On the topics of nature and biodiversity, it was a mixed bag. There was the first ever 'Water' day, and finally nature-based solutions made it into the final text. However, there was a significant lack of nature and biodiversity in discussions, side events, and media coverage, with many pushing it onto COP15 happening in just a few days time. This is a misguided separating of important topics, as we know that to solve the climate crisis, we must also solve the biodiversity crisis."
I hope, looking towards COP15, we see a huge push for working with our amazing natural resources like our ocean and forests, to protect, adapt, and enhance as we look to building a more sustainable future.Laura Young, Youth Ocean Network
Whilst these climate conferences are an annual occurrence, we cannot afford to shrug off our duties until next year and we cannot have a repeat of this year’s failings. We need urgent action, where nature and our planet are put first. Without this, we risk facing further loss of species and habitats, and increased natural disasters in both magnitude and frequency.
Investing in nature is a crucial step towards a better environmental state. Reports have shown the benefits that our ocean provides are largely overlooked and underfunded. Natural climate solutions receive less than 3% of all climate finance, and the ocean receives less than 1%. We previously highlighted this problem in our report A Drop in the Ocean. This is alarming and seemingly senseless when, from every 1 USD invested in rebuilding marine life, approximately 10 USD are generated in economic return.
Therefore, it was good to see that Therese Coffey, the UK Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), announce at COP27 a pledge of £30million to the Big Nature Impact Fund. This will be a new public-private fund for UK nature projects, both ocean and land-focused. This is in addition to the £12 million the UK promised to the international Ocean Risk and Resilience Action Alliance, which will help to restore vulnerable coastal communities and habitats. We know that economic growth is reliant on a healthy environment. The investment into nature and climate will greatly benefit the economy through financial return, by creating new green jobs and securing existing ones.
Global leaders will come together for nature once more before the end of 2022, at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15), in Montreal, Canada, to tackle the biodiversity crisis. We are losing species at an alarming rate and allowing this to continue poses a risk to us all.
Biodiversity is so important to our planet. It provides the air we breathe, the water we drink and most of the food we eat. All these benefits contribute to a healthy natural environment, healthier humans and a healthier economy.
We're calling on the UK Government to champion ocean biodiversity at the CBD COP15 in Canada and to ensure that the benefits it provides are recognised and protected at a level comparable with terrestrial ecosystems.
Despite making up over 70% of the planet’s surface and holding around 90% of all biodiversity on earth, our ocean is often overlooked in nature discussions. Our ask is simple - remember the ocean. Protect it, and the benefits it provides, for generations to come. We only have one ocean, and we cannot wait any longer to see the tide turn towards recovery.
We’ll be attending COP15 this year to observe the commitments and action that the UK Government make during this crucial moment for nature. We will continue to be the voice for our ocean, showing on an international stage how passionate we and our supporters are about our ocean.