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As COP28 draws to a close, one thing is crystal clear – we are at a pivotal moment.
Our CEO Ian Dunn reflects on the results of the climate conference and why there is reason to hope.
The 28th UN Climate Conference of Parties has just drawn to a close in Dubai, during which there had been fierce negotiations over the future of fossil fuels.
In the early hours of this morning the gavel went down and 198 governments agreed to “transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner… so as to achieve net zero by 2050 in keeping with the science”. This wording is not as strong as we had hoped, but it is the first time fossil fuels have ever been explicitly mentioned in a final agreement (in almost 30 years of climate COPs) and as the UN Climate Chief Simon Stiell said, it is the ‘beginning of the end’ for fossil fuels.
This issue is at the heart of climate action and this agreement was long overdue.
There are other key outcomes from this COP which give us reasons for hope:
More specifically focused on the intertwined climate and nature crises, we welcome two new initiatives coming out of this COP.
1.COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action
The acknowledgement and recognition of the adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture and food systems, and on billions of people including smallholders that are dependent on their resilience for food and livelihoods, is a great step in the right direction. Just two years ago, there was little or no mention of this issue, yet 158 governments endorsed the Declaration at COP28.
2. COP28 Joint Statement on Climate, Nature and People
This was an absolutely vital step in ensuring the climate and biodiversity crises are no longer considered as separate issues. We have known for a long time that they are fundamentally and intrinsically linked, and this is the first step in connecting the outcomes of the UNFCCC COP28 and the recently adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
This announcement was made: ‘At COP28 during Nature, Land Use and Ocean Day, we affirm that there is no path to fully achieve the near- and long-term goals of the Paris Agreement or the 2030 goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework without urgently addressing climate change, biodiversity loss and land degradation together in a coherent, synergetic and holistic manner, in accordance with the best available science.’
Eighteen governments have endorsed this declaration so far and we need to see many more signing up to this joined-up approach in the weeks ahead.
At Plantlife, we work tirelessly to bring the value of grasslands to the forefront of conversations around farming, nature, biodiversity and climate, both in the UK and internationally. Covering more than half the Earth’s land surface and with the livelihoods of around 800 million people depending on them, the importance of grasslands and savannahs cannot be underestimated.
More generally, this COP marked a turning point for the role of Indigenous Peoples and the recognition of their contribution in not only safeguarding 80% of the world’s biodiversity, but their knowledge in living in true harmony with nature. Adopting this way of thinking will be a pivotal step in combating the climate crisis. Plantlife is aware of the importance of Indigenous knowledge particularly when it comes to Important Plant Areas (IPAs), with one of the criteria for identification being related to cultural significance.
You can read more about IPAs here specifically the Chiquitano people of Bolivia who identified 18 IPA sites to protect the Chiquitano dry forest which many of the community depend on for their food and livelihoods.
It is safe to say there was a healthy dose of concern and scepticism about this COP. What would come out of it? Would this be ambitious enough to secure a safe future for generations to come – from large cities in the Global North to the Small Island Developing States on the frontline of the climate crisis? The reference to fossil fuels and the language in the final text can be considered a win, but now we look to parties to solidify the ‘how’ and the ‘when’ of implementing the measures to ensure we stay at or below 1.5 degrees of warming.
One thing is crystal clear: we are at a pivotal moment, for the stability of our planet and all life on Earth, and Plantlife will keep working to show how wild plants and fungi can be at the heart of the solution.
Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, shares her experience at COP28 understanding the role of nature and Indigenous Peoples in the climate conversation.
This WWF & Plantlife document makes the case for the world to recognise the vital role that grasslands and savannahs can play in addressing the climate and biodiversity crises.
We are teaming up with WWF (the World Wide Fund for Nature) at COP28 to press for better recognition of grasslands and savannahs, alongside other habitats.
Our Global Advocacy Coordinator, Claire Rumsey, will be at COP28 to speak up for the vital role of wild plants and fungi in the fight against climate change
At Plantlife, we are focused in gaining recognition for grassland ecosystems around the world as nature-based solutions to the climate crisis. Storing between 25-35% of the world’s terrestrial carbon, they are an underutilised resource.
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