GLASGOW, Scotland (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Dozens of nations pledged to do more to protect nature and overhaul agriculture at the UN COP26 climate talks on Saturday, amid concerns over failures past.
Agriculture, deforestation and other land use changes account for around a quarter of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions, making reforms vital to protect nature and feed a growing world population without fueling global warming.
“Nature and climate are linked, and our people and our environment are facing very real impacts of rising temperatures,” Alok Sharma, the UK’s chair of the Glasgow summit, told a news conference.
He said 70% of tropical corals, which are nurseries for fish, would be lost if temperatures rose 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times.
“If we get to two degrees, they’re all gone,” he added.
Temperatures have already risen by almost 1.2°C and the overarching goal of the Glasgow negotiations is to maintain hope of limiting warming to 1.5°C, the toughest target set by nearly 200 nations in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Britain said on Saturday that 45 nations were pledging to protect nature, including the United States, Japan, Germany, India, Indonesia, Morocco, Vietnam, the Philippines, Gabon , Ethiopia, Ghana and Uruguay.
Sharma said the pledges included $4 billion in public sector investment that would help spur innovation, such as the development of crops tolerant to droughts, floods and heatwaves, which could benefit “hundreds of million farmers.
Campaigners said the changes needed in agriculture to reduce emissions and protect food security should get a bigger share of global attention.
“We need to shine a light on climate justice and make food and farming sexy,” said Idris Elba, British actor and Goodwill Ambassador for the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.
Vanessa Nakate, 24, a climate justice advocate in Uganda, warned that in her country “we are seeing farms collapsing”, with floods, droughts, heat waves and swarms of locusts spreading hunger.
Among pledges made on Saturday, Canada said it would allocate about $1 billion – of the $5.3 billion previously pledged for climate finance – to “nature-based climate solutions” in developing countries across the country. over the next five years.
Britain said it would give a £500m ($675m) boost to protect more than 5m hectares – the equivalent of more than 3.5m football pitches – tropical rainforests in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Countries like Peru and Cameroon said they would increase their support for small-scale farmers, while Nepal and Madagascar said they would join forces to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and oceans from here 2030.
But other similar past promises have failed.
A UN report last year found that the world had not fully met any of the 20 global targets it set in 2010 to protect biodiversity.
These ranged from phasing out harmful agricultural subsidies to limiting forest loss and raising sufficient funds for developing countries.
British officials said there was hope Glasgow’s pledges would be different. They highlighted plans to follow up on pledges of donations, as well as pledges of money and innovative technologies, such as high-yielding and drought-tolerant crops.
Britain said 28 countries that are big consumers of deforestation-linked commodities such as beef, soy, palm oil and cocoa had joined a forest roadmap, Agriculture and Commodity Trading (FACT) launched in February this year.
FACT says it promotes sustainable land use as a step to unlocking investment, creating jobs and protecting forest livelihoods.
“The next challenge is to move from bold statements to real implementation,” said Yadvinder Malhi, professor of ecosystem science at the University of Oxford.
Britain grabbed headlines this week announcing a series of new alliances, such as one by more than 40 countries to phase out coal and another by major investors with $130 trillion at their disposal to boost carbon. green economy.
“As important as these announcements are, they are not legally binding,” noted Mohamed Adow, director of Power Shift Africa, a Kenya-based climate and energy think tank.