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64 Countries Sign Major Biodiversity Pledge to Address Climate Destruction

Sustainability News
by Tim Wenger Oct 2, 2020

This is The Climate Win, the most positive sustainability news around the world every week.

This week, 64 leaders from five continents signed onto a global pledge to reduce biodiversity loss. The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, signed in advance of Wednesday’s United Nations Summit on Biodiversity, “commits to reducing biodiversity loss by 2030,” according to its website.

“We reaffirm our commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism, based on unity, solidarity and trust among countries, peoples and generations, as the only way for the world to effectively respond to current and future global environmental crises,” the governments state in the pledge.

Signatories include nations in the European Union as well as others spread across the globe, from Bangladesh to Belize and from Lebanon to Lesotho. The goals of the 10-point pledge are as diverse as its signatories. Unsustainable fishing practices and deforestation will be targeted as part of an effort to develop a more eco-friendly global food system and a circular economy. Each of the 10 points offers a particular focus on post-COVID recovery.

“Biodiversity loss is both accelerated by climate change and at the same time exacerbates it, by debilitating nature’s ability to sequester or store carbon and to adapt to climate change impacts. Ecosystem degradation, human encroachment in ecosystems, loss of natural habitats and biodiversity and the illegal wildlife trade can also increase the risk of emergence and spread of infectious diseases. COVID-19 shows that these diseases have dramatic impacts not only on loss of life and health but across all spheres of society,” the pledge states.

Notably absent from the pledge are Australia, Brazil, and the United States, each led by conservative leaders who have at best failed to ramp up conservation efforts and at worst have made reducing environmental protections a centerpiece of their administration.

Disproving any notion that this pledge is an affair of the left, however, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson not only became a signatory, but he has also emerged as one of its more vocal supporters. The BBC reported that in joining the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, Johnson stated that the UK would increase its protected spaces from 26 percent of the country’s area to 30 percent — a measure experts say is necessary to maintain natural balance on the planet — by 2030. “If left unchecked, the consequences will be catastrophic for us all,” he told the BBC.

The pledge itself is both informative and inspiring. You can read it in its entirety.

More climate wins

The Leaders’ Pledge for Nature came on the heels of another major announcement from the European Union. The EU plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent by 2030, according to a report in Eurovision. European Commission President Ursula von der Layen hopes to formalize the proposal by the end of this year. And that target could be increased. The European Parliament’s Green Party wants the EU to pledge a 65 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels by 2030.

The New York Times reported this week that construction projects using wood are on the rise across the United States. This is beneficial to the environment because wood itself captures carbon from the air and stores it, and because it’s a renewable resource, wood doesn’t require nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions to produce as steel and concrete do.

Scientists have discovered a new “super enzyme” that actually eats plastic, according to a report in The Guardian. The super enzyme is a hybrid of two enzymes first discovered at a Japanese waste facility in 2016. When combined, the enzymes can eat plastic bottles and similar plastics and allow them to be fully recycled. The super enzyme could be ready for mass use within a year or two.

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