Progress at an international meeting on saving the planet’s biodiversity isn’t making fast enough progress, federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault said Friday
“Things never go as fast as I would like,” he said.
After nearly a week of deliberations, negotiators at the COP15 meeting in Montreal have reached agreements on three of 22 targets. Although one of them – ensuring Indigenous people are consulted and play a role in new conservation agreements – is one Canada’s main goals, Guilbeault said he’d hoped for more consensus before other environment ministers start arriving next week.
“I have already spoken to my peers, asking them to instruct their delegations to start removing brackets,” he said. “It’s no longer time to add new text.
“There’s a lot of things that negotiators could deal with before ministers arrive and that’s what we’re asking them to do.”
The conference, a small city of 17,000 delegates in the heart of Montreal, is trying to establish hard targets for preservation of the Earth’s ecosystems. Although 120 of the more than 190 countries in attendance have agreed on goals such as conserving 30 per cent of the globe’s land and water by 2030, a deal remains elusive.
But Guilbeault, a veteran of almost two dozen such high-level environmental conferences as both activist and politician, said he’s not giving up.
Delegates have until Monday to “clean up the text,” he said. And if they don’t, politicians will have to do it themselves.
“If we get a text that’s not as clean as we would want, that means the ministers will have work even harder,” he said. “We’re determined to make than happen.”
Advocates have hoped for what they call a “Paris moment” at COP15 – an equivalent for biodiversity to the landmark 2015 agreement in Paris that set hard targets for reduction of greenhouse gases.
The two issues are intimately linked. Scientific research has concluded there’s no chance of keeping Climate change within the temperature of 1.5 C without the 30 per cent conservation level.
Scientists also say that level is the minimum needed to maintain natural systems essential to human life, from clean water to crop pollination.
Canada has four main targets at COP15.
It wants a deal to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030, to protect at least 30 per cent of lands and oceans within the same time frame, to fund developing nations adequately to allow them to reach the same goals, and to include the participation by Indigenous people.