Most of the approximately 200 participating states are now represented at the ministerial level. Climate Protection Minister Leonor Gaevsler (Greens) traveled to Canada from Austria. “Now it is all about negotiating and achieving a good result,” Gaevsler said in a statement on Saturday. “We are ready to make our contribution – but everyone else should do the same,” the minister said.
Austria is one of 116 countries that have come together in the “High Ambition Alliance for Nature and People”. The alliance is specifically committed to the implementation of the 30 per cent security target. It stipulates that by 2030, 30 percent of the world’s ocean and land areas will be protected, according to the Ministry of Climate Protection.
However, this goal is still under heavy negotiation in Montreal – and as is often the case, it’s the details that are at stake. In the texts of a possible agreement, several points are still as unresolved. For example, the draft states that the areas concerned should be placed under “full” or “strong” protection. Not all states are happy with such formulations and want less specific formulations.
Environmental protection organizations are already warning of failure of negotiations if such disputes occur. The time is running out “faster and faster” for a global agreement that “stops and reverses the loss of our species and habitats”, said Jörg-Andreas Krüger, president of the German Nature Conservation Union (NABU).
“In the negotiations to date, the initial level of ambition for global conservation and protection of biodiversity has been reduced bit by bit. This calls into question the success of the World Conference on Nature.” Kruger demanded that the ministers should now “give new momentum to the conference”. Florian Tietze from WWF said, so far, there has been a lack of political will – but: “Nothing is lost yet.”
request for financial aid
Money is once again an important issue. Much hinges on the question of whether industrialized countries will substantially increase their financial aid to developing countries. Many countries see related financial support as a basic condition to be able to achieve the environmental goals discussed in Montreal. A group of developing and emerging countries, led by Brazil, temporarily left the talks in protest.
Brazil, one of the diplomatic heavyweights at the conference along with India, Indonesia and African states, is seeking at least $100 billion a year in financial aid from rich countries. This would be ten times the current amount flowing from developed countries to developing countries to boost biodiversity – and would be the equivalent of $100 billion, but not yet fully distributed, to fight man-made global warming .
Initiative should move things forward in conversation
The initiative, which the German Environment Ministry announced on Saturday, aims to help solve this problem. The new partnership (“NBSAP Accelerator Partnership”) aims to assist developing countries in aligning their national environmental policies with global environmental protection goals.
According to the German Environment Ministry, Germany will support the partnership which has been launched with Colombia and other countries with 29 million euros. “This is an essential investment in our common future and the protection of our livelihoods,” said German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens).
Macron and Xi appeal
On Saturday, French head of state Emmanuel Macron also called on participants to reach an ambitious agreement. He wrote on Twitter, small decisions should not be taken, but maximum should be done. “Let’s make the most ambitious deal possible. The world needs it,” Macron said.
A day earlier, China’s head of state and party leader Xi Jinping once again called for a consensus on better species conservation. “We must build a global consensus on protecting biodiversity,” Xi said via video sharing. Ambitions should be converted into action. Xi said that developing countries also need assistance in building their wildlife protection capabilities.
The Chinese head of state officially presides over the conference. The summit, also known by the abbreviation COP15, was actually supposed to take place in China in 2020. However, due to the CoV pandemic, it was postponed and also moved from China to Canada. The first part of the talks took place primarily online in Kunming in southwest China in October, which has now been followed by meetings in Montreal.
The World Conference on Nature aims for an agreement on biodiversity that is similar in importance to the Paris Climate Agreement concluded in 2015. Time is of the essence: 70 percent of the world’s ecosystems have been degraded due largely to human activities. More than a million species are at risk of extinction. The economic future of mankind is also at stake. According to a calculation by the World Economic Forum, more than half of global economic output depends on nature.
WWF criticizes Austria’s management of Natura 2000 areas
Meanwhile, environmental organization WWF criticized Austria’s default on protected areas in its own country. According to one broadcast, Austria has “still failed to implement Natura 2000, the European network of protected areas”. “Countless infrastructure projects in Natura 2000 areas were mis-assessed from the start, because of poor foundations,” criticized WWF water conservation expert Gerhard Egger.
WWF Austria calls for a halt to construction projects in Natura 2000 areas. This mainly applies to hydroelectric projects, such as Kamp and Ybbs in Lower Austria or in the catchment area of the Österoler Isel. The EU Commission launched infringement proceedings in September. Austria has until the end of January to respond.
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