CoP26: Mind the Gap!
It really depends on who you speak to, whether CoP26 was judged a success. Yes, the Glasgow Climate Pact was signed by 197 countries in the final hours. And yes, there were some ground-breaking side agreements on coal, forests, cars, and finance. But there remains a huge gap between the pledged emission-reduction targets and those agreed in Paris in 2015.
Further, there remains a lack of commitment from high-income countries to subsidise the lower-income countries that are, for the most part, more affected by climate change. On a positive note, however, there is broad agreement that change is going in a positive direction, despite the gap that must be filled to limit global warming to 1.5°C
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2018), the leading authority, states that exceeding a 1.5°C global temperature rise would be catastrophic for much of life on Earth. Some island nations believe that they will not survive the sea-level rise, let alone the increasingly destructive weather patterns.
What is certainly clear is that we can’t wait for our governments to step up and bridge the gap. CoP26 reports indicate that talk of net-zero is mostly just talk, with plans to offset emissions alarmingly light on detail (Economist, 2021). Climate change action has become a political football, with those willing to act only committing to distant targets. So, what can we do when our political leaders fail to take a strong lead?
Businesses must ultimately take charge, and I was encouraged learn that during CoP26 businesses were pushing ahead to focus minds and deliver actions. The ‘Glasgow Declaration on Climate Action in Tourism’, the ‘Declaration on Forests and Land Use’, and the ‘Ocean for Climate Declaration’ are all intended to bridge the gap between good intentions and meaningful climate action; tangible actions that finally and firmly put biodiversity on the climate agenda.
As countries and businesses – and even individuals – consider their actions to achieve net zero, few consider the relevance of natural systems. It’s ironic, when these can present a host of sustainable, low-cost solutions to many of our challenges: including harnessing the capability of many ecosystems to absorb and store carbon. You may have heard the recently-coined term “nature-based solutions”, referring to the protection and restoration of natural habitats and wild areas as a way to draw down CO2 from the atmosphere. Regular readers of ANIMONDIAL’s blogs will have already seen examples of the evidenced benefits of forests, oceans, and their biodiversity. Nature is an essential part of the effective and efficient response to climate change, and also to avoiding future pandemics and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It is my firm belief that bridging the gap between emission reduction and carbon capture need not be a difficult and complex task. Effective actions to enhance biodiversity and restore nature will narrow that gap. Yes, it would help if our governments would regulate business to measure its impact on nature, and to demonstrate reduced negative impact, as proposed by Target 15 of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. But why wait until this becomes law? We know what has to be done. Businesses, in fact anyone, can play their part in minimising negative impacts and boosting biodiversity.
What can you do?
ANIMONDIAL’s recommended path to minimising negative impacts, bridging the gap, and achieving Net Zero:
- Evaluate your business operations and activities against validated, inter-related indicators to measure your impacts and dependencies on nature. Discover your ANIMAL FOOTPRINT here.
- Identify where your business is doing well and, where you can do better for animals and nature.
- Calculate your carbon emissions across your operations: transport, goods, food & beverage, services, etc.
- Commit to meaningful, time-bound, evidence-based targets across priority locations to halt and reverse the loss of nature and achieve Net Zero.
- Minimise your negative impacts on nature by reducing activities that drive biodiversity loss.
- Decarbonise your business operations and activities across your supply chain. Shift to alternative materials and actions to reduce carbon emissions.
- Regenerate and restore ecosystems in partnership with others, applying nature-positive action across your value chain.
- Invest in nature-based, community-led solutions that support local people who live alongside natural areas, and encourage nature guardianship.
- Encourage governments and policymakers to adopt and implement ambitious nature and climate policies
ANIMONDIAL will continue to work with our travel and tourism partners to support and advise businesses to better manage their impacts on nature and boost biodiversity through community-based, nature-positive solutions.
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REPORTS FROM CoP16
- Launch of the Glasgow Declaration: A commitment to a decade of climate action in tourism | UNWTO
- Nature in the spotlight at UN Climate Conference COP26 | Business for Nature
- Was COP26 in Glasgow a success? | The Economist