A new study published Friday in the journal Science Advances lays out a strong case and a game plan — called the Global Deal for Nature — that will BOTH stabilize climate and ensure that species and ecosystems will be preserved in the near future. This study argues that by protecting “30 percent of the Earth by 2030—an ambitious but achievable goal that will rely on conserving areas with significant biodiversity and engaging in meaningful collaboration with local and indigenous communities” and by maintaining “another 20 percent of the planet in climate stabilization areas, or areas that remain in a natural state,” we can achieve climate stabilization and prevent the world’s ecosystems from unravelling. According to the study, time is not on our side:
- “Climate models show that we are approaching a tipping point: If current trends in habitat conversion and emissions do not peak by 2030, then it will become impossible to remain below 1.5°C.”
- “Similarly, if current land conversion rates, poaching of large animals, and other threats are not markedly slowed or halted in the next 10 years, ‘points of no return’ will be reached for multiple ecosystems and species.”
- If the global climate temperature increase does not remain below 1.5C, then “degradation of the natural environment also diminishes quality of life, threatens public health, and triggers human displacement because of lost access to clean drinking water, reduced irrigation of important subsistence crops, and exacerbation of climate-related storm and drought events.”
Most importantly, the study provides policy recommendations that are grounded in science for both nature and climate objectives that are mutually reinforcing and recommends time-bound milestones and targets to achieve the objectives, and it introduces breakthrough technologies for monitoring progress. This study will also help to provide an impetus for the adoption of new conservation targets at the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity to be held in China in October 2020.
Why This Matters: This study is significant for two reasons. First, it recognizes that we cannot solve the two great environmental crises we face today separately — they are inextricably linked. In other words, if we work to reduce climate change, we can stave off another mass extinction event, and by saving species and their habitat, we can make significant inroads toward meeting the targets we set to hold climate change in check. The second reason is that the study does more than just provide a theoretical answer — instead, according to one of its authors, it “is the first science-based plan with clear milestones on why it’s vital to achieve these goals and how it could be done” including milestones and targets that are global. “Every morsel of food, every sip of water, the air we breathe is the result of work done by other species. Nature gives us everything we need to survive,” says National Geographic’s Enric Sala, another author. Now, all we need to do is protect nature as if our lives depend on it because they do. #EarthDay
What You Can Do: Sign a petition calling on world leaders to support the Global Deal for Nature to protect and restore 30% of the Earth’s lands and oceans by 2030.