Humanity has turned into a “weapon of mass destruction”, the UN Secretary General complains

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Humanity has turned into a “weapon of mass destruction”, the UN Secretary General complains

The challenges facing COP15 are great: one million species, mainly insects, are threatened with extinction, their elimination is occurring at a rate unprecedented in 10 million years; as even 40% of land is classified as degraded, fertile soils are disappearing; pollution and climate change are accelerating ocean damage.

Humanity has turned into a “weapon of mass destruction”, it is time to stop the “war” it is waging “against nature”: the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, appealed yesterday Tuesday to the governments of the world to take courageous decisions on the eve of COP15 on biodiversity, warning that there is no time to lose.

“With its insatiable appetite for uncontrolled and unequal economic growth, humanity has turned into a weapon of mass destruction,” he stressed as he raised the curtain on this meeting in Montreal, which he called one of the last “opportunities” to “stop the orgy of destruction ».

Since taking office in 2017, the former Prime Minister of Portugal has put climate change front and center. His fiery denunciations before COP15 began showed that the fate of plants and animals threatened with extinction by the destruction of the natural environment — an interconnected crisis — is also high on the agenda.

It came shortly after host Justin Trudeau’s speech was interrupted by representatives of a local indigenous tribe. “Indigenous genocide = killing the ecosystem” and “to save biodiversity, stop invading our lands”, read the banner which they held up for several minutes, shouting slogans, cheered by part of the hall, before being escorted, in an atmosphere of calm, towards the exit.

The challenges facing COP15 are great: one million species, mainly insects, are threatened with extinction, their elimination is occurring at a rate unprecedented in 10 million years; as even 40% of land is classified as degraded, fertile soils are disappearing; pollution and climate change are accelerating ocean damage.

Chemicals, plastics and air pollution are choking the land, water and air, while global warming from burning fossil fuels is causing climate chaos — from heat waves and wildfires to droughts and floods of gigantic proportions.

More than 190 countries are meeting from today 7 to Monday 19 December to try to reach a ten-year horizon agreement for nature and prevent mass species extinction. But the outcome of the negotiations, which concern about twenty goals for the protection of ecosystems until 2030, remains very uncertain.

“Cacophony of Chaos”

“Today we are not in harmony with nature, on the contrary we are playing a very different purpose”: the “cacophony of chaos, with instruments of destruction”, as the UN Secretary General put it.

“In the final analysis, we are killing ourselves by proxy,” he added, noting the consequences for employment, hunger, disease, death. Economic losses due to the deterioration of health and the destruction of ecosystems are estimated to amount to 3 trillion annually from 2030.

Although the findings of the scientists are generally not disputed, points of friction remain many between the parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (195 states plus the European Union, but not the US, which nevertheless participates as an observer — with great influence).

For the implementation of the Paris Agreement to be successful, “biodiversity must also succeed. For the climate to prosper, nature must prosper, we can only face these two together,” Elizabeth Maruma Emrema, the Tanzanian executive secretary of the SBP, emphasized to AFP a few days ago.

Among the twenty or so goals to be discussed, the beacon ambition, known as 30×30, is to declare at least 30% of the world’s land and seas protected by 2030. Against respectively the 17% and 10% predicted by the previous agreement, of 2010.

Harmful subsidies to fisheries and agriculture, the fight against invasive species, and the reduction of herbicide use will also be examined.

Once again, the issue of financing the measures may prove to be the most important obstacle: developing countries are calling for a special purpose fund, such as the one agreed to be established for the climate.

The lack of political will and leadership is already palpable: apart from Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, no head of state or government is expected in Montreal, while more than 110 went to Egypt in November for COP27, the UN climate summit.

RES-EMP

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