Talks to stop the destruction of nature “hang very much by a thread,” the sources said, as environment ministers from around the world begin to arrive in Montreal amid concerns about a lack of Chinese leadership in the talks. the Cop15.
Halfway through the summit in Canada, negotiators at the UN biodiversity summit have said that divisions are contributing to the growing risk of a “Copenhagen moment”, referring to the 2009 UN climate summit when talks ended with a weak final agreement in Denmark. capital, not the “Paris moment for nature” that leading environmental figures had been calling for.
Over the next two days, environment ministers from more than 100 countries will arrive in Canada to finalize the text, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Senior UN officials have called for a renewed sense of urgency as Negotiations enter the final stretch, praising China’s leadership at Cop15, which is the first time Beijing has led a major UN political environmental agreement.
But, privately, governments, activists and NGOs have expressed deep concern about the state of the talks, with entrenched positions from the EU, the African group and Latin American countries increasing the likelihood of a confrontation in the last week of Cop15. . They say the disagreement has been muddled by “a leadership vacuum” by China in the negotiations, with the country often playing a ceremonial role in the talks. It is understood that the Cop15 presidency is reaching out to NGOs and governments on how to resolve differences.
Proposals to protect 30% of the Earth and issues of digital money and biopiracy are understood to be major sticking points between countries, with fears they are shying away from addressing key drivers of biodiversity loss, such as overconsumption , pesticides and intensive agriculture, and companies that disclose the impact of their activities on the natural world.
The negotiations are responding to scientific warnings that a million species are threatened with extinction, while the architects of the Paris agreement have said a positive outcome in Montreal is key to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
“I am always optimistic that they will figure it out, but it is so chaotic at the moment and so finely balanced between complete failure and success that it will all come down to what ministers decide,” a negotiator said on Tuesday.
“China could be working furiously in the background. No one has perfect eyesight. But from where I’m sitting, I don’t see them providing leadership or even input in most negotiations. Everybody’s worried about where it’s going. At the moment, it is very likely that the final text will be a bad deal, but not so bad that a country can reject it, so we will kick the next Cop in two years, “they added.
“Too many issues remain on the table for ministers to make sensible decisions. There is a global will to try to reduce them quickly, but there is a sense that the talks are at stake,” said a source with knowledge of the talks.
Huang Runqiu, China’s environment minister and Cop15 chair, has been hesitant to speak to the international media. So far, Justin Trudeau is the only world leader to have spoken at Cop15. More than 150 scientists this week backed British conservationist Chris Packham’s call for British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to attend the biodiversity summit.
Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, Costa Rica’s former environment minister and director of the Global Environment Facility, the main fund to support biodiversity action in developing countries, said the talks were tense.
“I have never seen such a tense and aggressive environment. It used to be very different,” she said. “This is the downside to success in making this cop politically relevant. It used to be politically irrelevant, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit and we started negotiating a new framework that we saw that biodiversity loss and climate change are a product of the same problem.”
Environmental groups are calling for the Chinese presidency to show leadership in Montreal and bring the countries together to solve key problems.
“So far, the talks at Cop15 have bogged down on the usual main topics. The Chinese presidency must clarify how it wants to organize the process during the last week, and above all how it wants to make use of the ministers that will arrive. Will they be tasked with reaching agreement on key issues or will they just be used for chatter? said Oscar Soria, campaign manager for the advocacy organization Avaaz.
“There is an incredible leadership vacuum here, if it continues like this we will soon have to say goodbye to ambition for good. This is perhaps what the world powers, including China, really want,” he said.
Li Shuo, a Greenpeace China policy adviser who has been closely following the biodiversity talks, said China should start inviting ministers to resolve key issues in Montreal as soon as possible.
“A clear roadmap is needed for the second week of biodiversity talks in Montreal. Ministers are currently not expected to participate in the negotiations. This has to change. Your leadership is needed immediately upon arrival. the [Cop15] the presidency needs to start building trust and joint ownership of the result,” he said.