A report from the Intergovernmental Science Policy Platform on Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says that climate change and the fast decline of ecosystems are interconnected problems that should be addressed together internationally for successful action.
The findings came from a workshop held in December 2019 following months of research. They will be presented at the two upcoming United Nations conference, one on climate change and the other on biodiversity.
Global efforts have tackled both issues separately – climate change is under the IPCC and Paris climate agreement domain. At the same time, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and other international organisations deal with biodiversity and ecosystem issues.
Because of this, policy responses have been “siloed” while climate change has received more attention, says Pamela McElwee of the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University (Gustin, 2021).
Blurred lines between climate change and biodiversity loss
Razan Al Mubarak’s article on WEF about tackling the twin crises of biodiversity loss and climate change says that the “underlying drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss are different, but the line between policy to mitigate climate change and biodiversity loss is not always so distinct”.
He says that blurred lines on policies between both issues tend to appear when dealing with coastal areas where mangrove forests, coral gardens, or saltmarshes are present.
According to Mubarak, climate change is caused by the burning of fossil fuels. In contrast, biodiversity loss is caused by climate change and destructive land use practices like conversion of land to agriculture, pollution, overharvesting, and the spread of invasive species.
Hans-Oto Pӧrtner, a climatologist and co-chair of the IPCC workshop, says that climate change and biodiversity are “closely interwoven” as they share common drivers and reinforce each other. Pӧrtner points out that zoonotic diseases emerge from species that thrive when biodiversity declines (Gustin, 2021).
Key strategies to deal with both crises
The authors pointed out crucial strategies that can address both biodiversity loss and climate change, such as putting an end to deforestation in the tropics and degradation of carbon-rich ecosystems such as peatlands, mangroves, savannahs, and wetlands, while boosting sustainable agriculture and forestry, and cutting subsidies to destructive industries.
They also warned governments and policymakers of climate adaptation strategies that could backfire against biodiversity, like planting monocultural, non-native trees or planting vast land areas with bioenergy crops. According to the authors, we use more than 50% of the world’s land area for food and timber production.
Expanding land use for biofuel crops will only add enormous pressures on natural lands, which will be catastrophic for biodiversity and food security.
The authors point out that while nature-based solutions have their role in fighting for climate change, they should be done simultaneously with strong emissions reduction.
To read the entire report, click the link below:
IPBES (2019), Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Brondízio, E. S., Settele, J., Díaz, S., Ngo, H. T. (eds). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany, ISBN: 978-3-947851-20-1
Gustin, G. (2021, June 11). New Report: Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss Must Be Tackled Together, Not Separately. Inside Climate News. Retrieved from https://insideclimatenews.org/news/11062021/biodiversity-climate-change-ipcc-forests-ocean/
Mubarak, R. (2021, May 26). Can biodiversity loss and climate change be tackled together? | World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/05/twin-crises-biodiversity-loss-and-mitigating-climate-change-tackled-together/
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