A month ago we had COP27; now we are all the way up to COP15. What is going on?

COP is UN shorthand for  Conference Of the Parties and the parties are the nations that have signed up to some UN brokered agreement. COP15 is the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and COP27 was the 27th  Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention On Climate Change. Simples.

Canada and China are hosting COP15 in Montreal amid an atmosphere of doom and gloom, awash with some terrifying numbers. The IUCN has classed as Threatened With Extinction more than 25% of the 150,000 species it has evaluated; the Zoological Society of London has reported a 69% fall in wildlife populations over the past 50 years.

Here is another terrifying number: of the world’s 198 nation states, 196 are signed up to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity; the two that aren’t: the Vatican and the United Sates of America.

Some of the reserve’s most protected species.

Earth’s biosphere is facing climate change, habitat loss, pollution, disease and thousands of other stressors around the planet. The situation is bad and getting worse; the Conference must reach a deal that will commit the world’s major players (even the American ones) to immediate and drastic action.

One proposal that illustrates both the need for urgency and the complexity of the problem is that at least 30% of the planet’s lands and oceans should be under legal protection by 2030. Governments are being asked to conserve ecosystems by ‘eliminating exploitation, trade and use of wildlife that is illegal, unsustainable, or that poses a risk of pathogen spillovers to humans, wildlife, or other animals.’

But if the USA, the world’s largest economy, is not signed up to any agreement, it is difficult to believe that such targets can be reached.

Header Image: Bechstein’s bat by Jan Svetlik (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Bechstein’s bat, one of the UK’s rarest mammals, was first identified in the reserve in 2016.

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