Tackle climate change and biodiversity loss together: UN panel
The world must tackle the dual crises of climate change and biodiversity loss together, two UN expert groups meeting together said Thursday, warning against measures to combat global warming that harm nature.
In the first ever collaboration between the United Nations’ intergovernmental panels on climate and nature loss, the scientists said that while the twin threats were mutually reinforcing, they had historically been treated as if they were independent of each other.
A peer-reviewed workshop report, based on virtual discussions between experts from the IPBES biodiversity and IPCC climate panels, warned that a number of planned interventions against global heating would adversely impact nature.
These include planting bioenergy crops over large land areas, which are detrimental to ecosystems.
They also cautioned against planting trees to suck up carbon pollution in ecosystems that have not historically been forested, which often damages biodiversity and food production.
The panel called for an end to the loss and degradation of carbon- and species-rich ecosystems on land and oceans.
Subsidies supporting activities harmful to nature — such as deforestation, over-fertilisation and over-fishing — must halt, the experts concluded.
At the same time, they underlined the need for changes in individual consumption habits.
Restoring ecosystems was among the cheapest and quickest climate interventions available, and could also offer much-needed additional habitat for plants and animals, the researchers said.
Improved management of cropland and grazing systems alone could save three-six billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions a year.