Coronavirus disrupts climate and biodiversity agenda


"Given the global and continuous impact of Covid-19, holding an ambitious and inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible," the British government announced

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2020 was to be a key year for climate and biodiversity, but the coronavirus has turned the agenda upside down: COP26 for Glasgow's climate has been pushed back to 2021 and other major events are on the hot seat.
"Given the global and continuous impact of Covid-19, holding an ambitious and inclusive COP26 in November 2020 is no longer possible," the British government announced on Wednesday evening. This big annual meeting on the climate in 2021, still in the Scottish city, will take place on a date to be announced later.
This 26th UN conference is considered the most important since that of 2015 (COP21), which led to the Paris Agreement, after a session in Madrid at the end of 2019 without real progress.
States were to review their climate commitments in 2020. The current commitments made by the nations would lead to global warming of 3 ° C, far from the objective of the Paris Agreement to contain it below 2 ° C.
"The important thing, in the immediate future, is that the world is mobilizing to fight against the pandemic", commented to AFP Laurence Tubiana, the architect of the Paris Agreement. "But the health crisis must not make us forget climate change," she continues.
"The global economic recovery must be an opportunity to support the emergence of an economy fully compatible with biodiversity, climate, and relocation of food production", agrees Yann Wehrling, French Ambassador for the Environment.
Other major meetings for the protection of nature will experience the same fate as the climate meeting.
The congress of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), expected in Marseille from June 11 to 15, should finally be held in January 2021, according to a source familiar with the matter. The announcement has yet to be formalized.
These "Olympics of biodiversity" are an opportunity for thousands of stakeholders in nature conservation - governments, NGOs, experts - to set priorities and launch new actions to protect the ecosystems that humans place but which are essential for its survival.
New priorities?
This congress was also an opportunity to update the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and for the first time, to raise public awareness of the need to protect nature, with exhibitions, stands ... tens of thousands of people were expected.
French President Emmanuel Macron had also planned, on the sidelines of this congress, a summit of heads of state, ahead of COP15 on biodiversity, itself scheduled for the fall.
Another major event of the year expected on biodiversity, this 15th meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) must serve to establish a global plan to protect and restore the ecosystems essential to the humanity of by 2050, after the failure of the objectives that had been adopted in 2010 for the past decade.
Originally scheduled for October in Kunming, China, it will most likely also take place "in 2021, still in China", in the "first quarter," Basile van Havre, co-chair of negotiations, said. AFP. Or even in early April, according to another source close to the file.
This decision has yet to be formalized by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
"Once the timetable has been clarified, it is to be hoped that mobilization (for the environment) can resume," said Aleksandar Rankovic, expert at the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (Iddri).
Postponing COP15 "gives more time to develop important technical points", he believes. In addition, he said, the epidemic being "very closely linked to biodiversity issues (the coronavirus being from the animal world), we could find an additional argument to push for more ambition".
The risk is however that with this major health crisis, the brutal slowdown of the economies and the risk of massive unemployment, we are witnessing a "change in the order of priority", recognizes this expert.
Another important summit, the UN oceans summit scheduled for Portugal in early June, will also be held at a later date.