Some of Rishi Sunak’s MPs are urging him to attend the Canada global wildlife negotiations next week. This is in response to a private letter informing leaders that vital talks may fail.
Today, 40 parliamentarians, five Conservative MPs and two Tory Lords, wrote to the prime minster urging him to fly in for “the most important political event for nature for a decade”.
The international nature talks (COP15) aim to address Earth’s growing biodiversity crisis. One million species are at risk of extinction, and forest loss is threatening food production and water supplies.
However, heads of state are not invited to the talks. They will be chaired by China this year, but held in Canada. Only a few people have been reported to even consider attending.
COP27 in Egypt, which was held earlier in the month, saw at least 100 of these leaders fly in.
Sky News received a private note from the group saying that COP15 is at risk due to the lack of high-level engagement by headsof government around the globe.
According to observers, the presence of world leaders at such negotiations gives momentum and sets political direction. It also empowers negotiators in pushing for stronger deals.
The group warned that a lack of political attention at the highest levels could lead to a repeat of Copenhagen’s 2009 climate summit, where fraught talks fell apart.
They stated that they could not afford it to happen at COP15.
The conference is named COP15 as it marks the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity since 1994. This event is separate from the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The latest meeting of this group took place in Sharm el Sheikh earlier in the month. It was called COP27.
PM encouraged to’stand up against nature’
The letter’s signatories urged the PM “stand up for Nature” and to attend the COP15. They also requested that the PM hold bilateral meetings with other heads government and lobby for the goal of reversing nature’s decline by 2030.
The 2030 goal would be nature’s equivalent of the climate change goal to limit warming to 1.5C above preindustrial levels.
Lord Randall of Uxbridge is one of three signatories that are publicly identified. He was formerly an MP for the Conservative Party and Theresa May’s environment adviser.
Lord Randall stated that COP15 was the most significant moment in a decade for nature.
He suggested that Mr Sunak should “think of ways in which he could engage with other heads government while the talks are ongoing, and ensure that COP15 becomes a Paris moment to nature”.
He said that it would also be helpful for the UK government to finally set its own, delayed targets for restoring nature as promised by the Environment Act.
Government messages ‘yet not to give reassurance’
Tanya Steele (head of WWF UK), called the PM to the talks on Tuesday. This was in an effort to duplicate the UK’s leadership in climate change in the intertwined natural sphere.
Elliot Chapman Jones, Wildlife Trusts’ director, said to Sky News, “We need world leaders, including our own government, to show that they understand the magnitude of the challenge and to set ambitious goals for nature’s recovery.”
He said that “measures and messaging by government to date have not yet given us that reassurance”, and urged it to set legal targets to restore the natural world at home.
The UK has advocated for a global goal of protecting 30% of land by 2030 and has already set that target domestically. However, only 3.22% of the UK’s land is currently protected, according to the Wildlife Trusts. “With no clear plan on how to reach 30% within the next seven years,” the Wildlife Trusts stated.
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