COP26 – We need nature to combat climate change!

Geran de Klerk on Unsplash

Published on:

From 31.10. to 12.11.2021 50,000 participants, both online and in person, including world leaders from almost 200 countries, politicians, activists, scientists, activists, journalists and representatives of NGOs and businesses gathered to negotiate and discuss global climate action for the short and long term future.

Main outcomes of COP26

The event was not strictly a political one, as many were there to share ideas, solutions, attend cultural events and build partnerships and coalitions. It hosted many empowering announcements, speeches and long negotiations, culminating with the countries agreeing on the Glasgow Climate Pact centred on adaptation, conservation, climate finance and mitigation. Parties concurred to boost their carbon-cutting commitments, phase down fossil fuels and increase aid to loss and damage caused by climate change.

The Paris Agreement rulebook was also finalized, setting out transparency and monitoring plans to keep on track with the 1.5 degrees target.

Glasgow Climate Pact

This final deal was signed by leaders of almost 200 countries. The agreement calls for an accelerated effort “towards the phase-down of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies”.

We all know that European wealth was built on coal. And if we don’t get rid of coal, European death will also be built on coal

said Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, who is leading on big portions of the “green agenda” of the EU. The phasing out of coal and fossil fuels is of course a much needed development if we want to halt global warming. However, it is especially positive to note that the pact explicitly emphasises the importance of “protecting, conserving and restoring nature”.

A hopeful message for nature conservationists worldwide, and a step forward in the long process of walking the talk. However, as the EU Commission President Ursula van der Leyen underlines:

…there will be no time to relax: there is still hard work ahead.

Sustainable Forest Management and Conservation

The special attention on nature when combating and adapting to climate change also resulted in something more tangible: 134 countries signed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forest and Land Use, which includes the pledge to protect world forests and stop and reverse deforestation by 2030. This aims to tackle the many issues forests and land face globally because of exploitation, biodiversity loss, and climate change, strengthen collaboration to provide resources and knowledge to rump up protection, conservation, and sustainable management.

Forests are the green lungs of the earth. We need to protect and restore them. I gladly announce that we are pledging €1 billion to protect world forests. This is a clear sign of the EU’s commitment to lead global change to protect our planet, in line with our EU Green Deal.

Stated EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The EU will work towards actively collaborating to conserve, restore and ensure the sustainable management of forests.

Catriona Manders shows her signature on the front page of the Joint Statement at COP26

Protected Areas Joint Statement

EUROPARC truly believes that nature is the key solution to combating Biodiversity loss and Climate Change. We must start from nature to protect, conserve, and restore our planet, for us and for future generations. EUROPARC therefore urges world’s leaders to act and include nature-based solutions in their climate adaptation plans. Additionally, it is of vital importance to hear and give attention and space to young people, who are the ones who’ll pay the price of today’s actions. In Protected and Rural Areas, the EUROPARC Youth Manifesto is a great place to start.

As such, during the Youth and Public Empowerment Day at COP26, EUROPARC and other leading organisations in charge of some of the largest tracts of Protected Landscapes and Marine Environments across the world have come together for the first time to sign a joint statement. It calls alling on world leaders to support their work at the vanguard of the fight against Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss. The most prominent signature was reserved for Catriona Menders, Junior Ranger and Youth Committee member at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park.

Get all the info and read the full statement here.

More info on COP26 outcomes here