Fixing biodiversity and the climate will require the same solutions

Fixing biodiversity and the climate will require the same solutions

Fixing biodiversity and the climate will require the same solutions

When Susan Chomba thinks about the loss of biodiversity in Africa, her mind goes to a white rhino she once visited with her children in northern Kenya.

The animal, named Sudan, was the last male northern white rhino. He died in 2018.

Chomba, who is the director of vital landscapes at the World Resources Institute, told Insider that Sudan’s disappearance – and the sad implications for the northern white rhino subspecies – was a tangible example of what is at risk of loss. of biodiversity.

His comments came during a recent Insider event called “For a Better Future: Bridging Culture, Business, and Climate.”

Chomba, who joined the panel from the Kenyan capital Nairobi, said researchers have been trying to save the northern white rhino by storing sperm from males. The hope, once upon a time, was to create embryos using eggs from females. “Scientists have tried everything possible,” he said.

Biodiversity loss doesn’t always get the same attention as the climate crisis, but the two challenges are linked. And both must be resolved to prevent devastating consequences for humanity, according to the panelists. In many cases, the path to solving one can help the other, they said.

Speaker Michal Nachmany, who lives in London and is founder and CEO of Climate Policy Radar, said biodiversity loss is something we can all see when we stop and look. He pointed out how different it is to cycle or drive through the countryside in Europe – or to go on a picnic – because there are far fewer insects than just a decade or two ago.

“Those bugs — half of them are gone,” Nachmany said. “And while it might be nice not to get bitten by mosquitoes, those insects represent our food systems. They provide critical pollination services that critically impact our ability to grow food.”

Sundan, the last male Northern White Rhino before he died

A ranger cares for Sudan, the world’s last male northern white rhino, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya’s Laikipia County in 2017.

Associated press

The complexity of natural systems means that there are links, even ones we don’t necessarily understand, that link animals, insects and humans to the fate of the planet’s temperatures.

“Anyone who’s working with these issues — biodiversity, climate change and its underlying drivers — realizes the interconnectedness of it all,” Chomba said.

Nachmany said thinking about biodiversity loss and the climate crisis at the same time can lead to a better understanding of what humans need to do to slow changes that could jeopardize human needs.

“Solutions that address both climate change and biodiversity conservation are the same solutions,” he said.

“You grow a tree, it gives you food. It reduces the ambient air temperature. It gives space for pollinators who can then support food systems. It provides shade which allows people to enjoy community. A lot of these needs – we tend to think about them as secondary needs, but our well-being and happiness contribute to our resilience in the face of growing challenges,” Nachmany said.

There are signs that biodiversity is attracting more attention. Nearly 200 countries reached a historic agreement in December to protect 30% of the world’s land and oceans by the end of the decade to slow unprecedented loss of nature.

However, more needs to be done, agreed the rapporteurs. There should be a higher price for activities that harm biodiversity and the environment in general, said Nachmany. This would help incentivize better behavior.

“Financial instruments are also a mechanism to ensure that polluting activities and harmful and destructive activities are restricted and prohibited,” he said. “The question is, can we put a price on the destruction of nature?”

Efforts to protect forests, for example, often compete with companies that want to develop land for fossil fuel extraction, Chomba said. Such is the case in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, home to the largest area of ​​rainforest in the Congo Basin, where the government sparked international concern last year over its decision to auction off oil and gas leases.

This is despite a pledge made at the 2021 United Nations climate summit to support protection of the Congo Basin, a move that was endorsed by the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, South Korea and Japan and included an initial investment of 500 million dollars.

“If we really care about biodiversity, if we really care about the carbon that’s in peatlands, if we really care about indigenous people, why don’t we put our money where our mouths are?” asked Chomba.

Nachmany said parts of the financial world are recognizing that biodiversity loss and the climate crisis are two parts of the same problem. He pointed to the coalitions of investors that have formed around these kinds of issues – climate and biodiversity – because they see protecting nature is in their own best interest.

“Without a livable planet, no investment is safe,” Nachmany said.

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