50 countries have pledged to protect the planet’s biodiversity by 2030. Australia is not one of them

50 countries have pledged to protect the planet’s biodiversity by 2030. Australia is not one of them

biodiversity

Australia is not among the more than 50 countries that have pledged to protect 30 per cent of the planet’s land and sea by 2030 to prevent species extinction and conserve biodiversity.

The High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People, co-chaired by Costa Rica, the UK and France, officially launched at the virtual One Planet Summit on Monday, where about 30 world leaders discussed the environmental crisis. The summit was hosted by French president Emmanuel Macron in partnership with the United Nations and the World Bank.

As well as the UK, Costa Rica and France, some of the countries to have joined the pledge include Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Denmark, Japan, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Chile and Finland.  

The High Ambition Coalition is aiming to secure a global agreement to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and sea by 2030 at the Convention on Biological Diversity COP15, which will be held in Kunming, China this year.

Andrea Mezo, Costa Rica’s Minster for Energy and Environment said she hoped more countries would join the efforts of the coalition in the run up to COP15.

“We have a moral and pragmatic imperative to come together, to take strong decisions that will get us one step closer to halting biodiversity loss and achieving the Paris Agreement goals,” she said.

The UK’s Minister of State for Pacific and the Environment Zac Goldsmith said the UK is committed to leading the global fight against biodiversity loss.

“We know there is no pathway to tackling climate change that does not involve a massive increase in our efforts to protect and restore nature,” he said.

“We have an enormous opportunity at this year’s Biodiversity Conference in China to forge an agreement to protect at least 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030.”

The One Planet Summit was attended by many of Australia’s closest allies and prominent world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Leaders from the US were absent, with President-Elect Joe Biden not due to take office until January 20. In the lead up to the US election, Biden committed to protecting 30 per cent of the country’s land and ocean by 2030, in line with the pledge from other countries.

Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens environment spokesperson, said Australia’s lack of commitment at the summit is shameful.

“The world watched as Australia burned last summer, shocked by the impact on our precious wildlife and wild places, and we have all experienced a global pandemic caused by a zoonotic disease,” she said.

“Australia was well-placed to push for global action and to play a leading role but the Morrison Government has squandered the opportunity.”

A program called PREZODE was also launched at the summit, which French President Emmanuel Macron described as an unprecedented international initiative to prevent zoonotic diseases and pandemics.

Australia’s lack of commitment to this biodiversity pledge comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison failed to sign onto the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature last year, which committed more than 60 countries to putting biodiversity, and the climate at the centre of COVID-19 recovery strategies.

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