Britain can do much more to help to save species from extinction and protect nature worldwide, peers have said as countries prepare for talks aimed at halting global biodiversity losses.
A “clear and present danger” exists to life on earth from the loss of biodiversity, according to the House of Lords Environment and Climate Change Committee.
The committee urges greater urgency to combat biodiversity losses and says that Britain can play an important role in resolving major global differences and fight for action on biodiversity at the World Trade Organization.
In a letter to Environment Secretary George Eustice the committee sets out what it believes that the government should do to make COP15 (the United Nations Biodiversity Conference due to be hosted by China in October) a success including:
- Step up diplomatic efforts on key sticking points ahead of COP15 including funding for biodiversity action;
- Improve coordination between COP15 and COP26 (the climate change conference that Britain will host later this year) and enhance relations with China to support this;
- Include an ambitious, overarching ‘state of nature’ target in the Environment Bill;
- Re-establish trust with developing countries, recognising that cuts to foreign aid and the failure to ensure global access to COVID-19 vaccines have damaged trust;
- Make protecting and restoring biodiversity a central consideration when negotiating new trade deals and report their effects on biodiversity; and
- Support the development of clear, consistent and robust requirements for businesses to report on their biodiversity impacts.
Baroness Parminter, chair of the committee, said:
“Biodiversity is essential for life on earth but is declining at an unprecedented rate worldwide.
“If we are to stand a fighting chance of halting biodiversity losses, COP15 must deliver clear, ambitious and measurable targets and strong mechanisms for monitoring countries’ progress towards them.
“Greater urgency is needed. We commend our government for some of its work on COP15 but major issues are still to be resolved and Britain can play an important role.
“We need to step up our domestic policies not just to inspire a good agreement at COP15 but to give biodiversity the priority it deserves. The right joined-up machinery of government must be in place to implement what’s agreed effectively.
“We all stand to benefit if success can be achieved at COP15 but if it fails to galvanise the action urgently needed on biodiversity then all of us will suffer the consequences.”