MPs urge Government to address 'ecological crisis'
After research revealed that tree planting was the biggest and cheapest way to mitigate climate change, a new cross-party campaign had called on the UK Government to combat the "ecological crises" in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The People and Nature campaign was launched in Parliament this morning (8 July), backed by 28 MPs including Zac Goldsmith and Caroline Lucas. The campaign calls on the Government to make all UK aid “nature positive” to enhance the natural environment, cease all harmful investments that contribute to deforestation and climate change and negotiate a deal for people and nature at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s meeting in October 2020 that is integrated with the SDGs and the Paris Agreement.
Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of Amnesty International said: “There can be no lasting solution to any of the world’s crises – whether poverty, inequality, or human rights – without real action to save our planet from irreversible, catastrophic climate change and the loss of the natural systems we all rely on.
“Our leaders need an urgent wake-up call. It is this generation which must take the decisions and the action to ensure humanity has a future on this planet. There is no alternative.”
The campaign aims, which can be viewed in full here, are built on a worrying lack of alignment between political decisions and societal needs. Up to 90% of the world’s poorest people depend on biological resources for food, fuel and shelter, while 75% depend on farming and fishing for income. However, the UK has provided more than £920m to Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) to fossil fuel projects between 2010 and 2014. A further £4.8bn in export finance between 2010 and 2016 has been used on fossil fuel projects – almost equal to total International Climate Finance figures.
The campaign was launched after new research estimated that a worldwide planting programme could remove up to 66% of manmade emissions in a bid to mitigate the climate crisis.
The analysis, covered by the Guardian, found there are 1.7 billion hectares of land on which 1.2 trillion native tree saplings would naturally grow. That area is about 11% of all land and equivalent to the size of the US and China combined.
Commenting on the research, Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief, said: “Finally we have an authoritative assessment of how much land we can and should cover with trees without impinging on food production or living areas. This is a hugely important blueprint for governments and the private sector.”
In related news, Environmental charity Action for Conservation is set to launch the largest youth-led natural restoration effort in the world at a 2,000-acre site in the heart of the Brecon Beacons National Park in Wales.
In the UK, 56% of species have shown a decline in numbers between 1970 and 2013. Globally, the UN estimates that one million plant and animal species face extinction.
In an effort to create a global gold-standard for youth-led environmental action, the Penpont Project will be run by a Youth Leadership Group of twenty 12-17-year-olds, who will work in collaboration with tenant farmers, landowners, academics and local stakeholders to restore the natural land through conservation projects.