“Humanity is waging war on nature” – UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns ahead of the Climate Ambition Summit
Just prior to the Climate Ambition Summit, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated: “Humanity is waging war on nature. …Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.”
That summit, co-hosted by the United Kingdom, the United Nations and France, in partnership with Chile and Italy, took place on December 12, the 5th anniversary of the conclusion of the COP21 talks in Paris and the Paris climate agreement.
That agreement contains a ratchet mechanism by which nations must update their commitments every five years.
At COP21, Canada pledged to reduce carbon its emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels (703 megatonnes) by 2030.
In this 98-second pre-recorded video played at the summit, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated: “We will raise our emission reduction ambitions. And in partnership with provinces and territories, we as a country will strive for the upper end of a range of 32 to 40 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.”
Most countries gauge their carbon emission reduction targets based on a 1990 baseline, for instance the European Union has pledged to reduce their carbon emissions by 55 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
If Canada were to use its 1990 levels (603 megatonnes), its promise at the Climate Ambition Summit would represent a 17.7 to 27.4 per cent reduction.
Hundreds of people had called on the Canadian prime minister – through a PBI-Canada urgent action – to strengthen Canada’s target, present a credible plan to achieve that target, uphold the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent and recognize the situation of human rights defenders on the frontlines of the climate crisis.
They highlighted that on average four land and environmental defenders have been killed every week since the Paris climate agreement was reached in December 2015. More than one-third of those fatal attacks have been against Indigenous land defenders.
Furthermore, the UN High Commissioner for human rights has stated climate change is a massive threat to human rights and the UN Human Rights Council passed this resolution calling for the protection of environmental human rights defenders given the crucial role they play in protecting vital ecosystems and addressing climate change.
These crucial issues were not at the forefront of the summit.
Yesterday, Greta Thunberg tweeted: “At the #ClimateAmbitionSummit leaders celebrate their shameless loopholes, empty words, distant insufficient goals and theft of present and future living conditions – calling it ‘ambition’. There are no climate leaders. The only ones who can change this is you and me. Together.”
And Tim Gore, head of climate policy at Oxfam, says: “The Climate Ambition Summit lacked real ambition. World leaders must step up in the next 12 critical months to pull the world back from the brink of catastrophic climate change. Commitments to near-term emissions cuts are still insufficient to limit warming to the 1.5C Paris goal.”
The 12-month timeline that Gore references relates to the COP26 climate summit that will be held in Glasgow, Scotland on November 1-12, 2021.
PBI-Canada will continue to highlight the importance of frontline land and environmental defenders working to stop the war on nature.