In snowy Montreal, France derails COP15 on biodiversity

After days of intense negotiations, hearing from policy experts on the state of play across finance and resource mobilisation to reverse the current trend of biodiversity loss by 2030, the UN biodiversity summit, referred to as COP15, is supposed to be a turning point to establish, at long last, mechanisms to follow up on commitments made for a long time, but routinely not followed upon by signatory countries.

The Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EALV) on Saturday denounced the duplicity of the French government. In snowy Montreal, the Secretary of State for Biodiversity and French diplomacy have constantly postponed the question of financing, which is central to effective preservation, if not recovery.

The future of the planet is at stake. With the preparation of the Libreville summit for the forest (the One Forest Summit in March 2023), the allegations of the supposed ‘champion of the earth’ are a lie on top of the previous ones, highlighted by NGO Bloom and Claire Nouvian.

COP-19 presidency China is urging the 196 negotiators to finish a COP that could yield very little, less than 24 hours after French President Emmanuel Macron’s letter to Ursula Von Der Leyen stating that the creation of a new fund for biodiversity was a ared line’, according to NGOs that have read it.

While there was hope after the Brazilian elections, the reality of this COP is quite different: The Brazilian negotiators of Jair Bolsonaro have not been replaced, France joins the camp of conservatives alongside China and Russia.

If this COP, which ends on December 19, is to end under these conditions, it would be very sad news for France and the planet, as well as a very negative signal for the younger generations.

After French Minister for Ecological Transition, Christophe Bechu’s statements, EALV calls on him and Emmanuel Macron to finally put their money where their mouths are, and to cross the red line that President Macron himself drew to allow the creation of a fund for biodiversity.

The COP15 to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international meeting bringing together governments from around the world. Participants will set out new goals and develop an action plan for nature over the next decade. The government of Canada’s priority is to ensure the COP15 is a success for nature.

Responding to the outcome of COP15, Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Canada, said on Friday, “The entire world is watching, hoping we can land an ambitious global biodiversity framework at COP15. More and more countries are joining our call to unite around the goal of protecting 30 per cent of the world’s lands and waters by 2030. Halting and reversing biodiversity loss demands nothing less. 30 by 30 must be our 1.5 degrees.

“At the same time, ambitious countries need to back that up with the financial resources, and those countries who want the financial assistance need to commit to ambitious nature protection targets. Today, Canada stepped up with new support for developing countries, bringing our total to $1.5 billion. I am confident we will get there.”

Meanwhile, fresh snow embellished the day, as delegates were kept busy on the draft global biodiversity framework (GBF) and other items on Saturday.

The high-level segment continued, with speakers highlighting the urgency of addressing biodiversity loss.

Negotiations on the GBF progressed on its sections, including on responsibility and transparency, and communication, education, awareness, and uptake, as well as on target 17 on biotechnology.

Officially, the negotiators have three days left at COP15 for nearly 200 countries to land a new plan to safeguard nature. Today is the key day. It’s the ‘stocktake’ when the world will get a sense of where countries agree and where they disagree and ideally what happens on Sunday and Monday.

France is in the doghouse on finance for the last few days for not wanting to go behind the back of the current funding system aka the Global Environment Facility (GEF) with a new fund.

After Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday urged delegates to accelerate work to reach a deal here, the Chinese COP Presidency outlined a two-track process. These are technical negotiations and ministerial engagement. It seems like the negotiators in many tracks hit a wall on Friday, remarked another negotiator.

At the beginning of COP15, host Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced CAD $350 million for international biodiversity funding, and on Friday, minister Guilbeault popped to the bank for another CAD $255 million, bringing Canada’s grand total to CAD $1.5 billion.

Guilbeault also advocated for $100 billion as the number rich nations should provide to developing countries for action on nature.

There are hopes this conference, which is already delayed by two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, will be for biodiversity what the Paris agreement was for the climate in 2015.

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

20221217-231202

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