Unprecedented changes in climate and biodiversity, driven by human activities, have combined to increasingly threaten nature, human lives, livelihoods and well-being around the world.
Biodiversity loss and climate change are both driven by human economic activities and mutually reinforce each other. Neither will be successfully resolved unless both are tackled together.
This is the message of a workshop report published on Thursday by 50 of the world’s leading biodiversity and climate experts.
The peer-reviewed report is the product of a four-day virtual workshop between experts selected by a 12-person Scientific Steering Committee assembled by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) — the first-ever collaboration between these two intergovernmental bodies.
The report finds that previous policies have largely tackled biodiversity loss and climate change independently, and that addressing the synergies between mitigating biodiversity loss and climate change, while considering their social impacts, offers the opportunity to maximise benefits and meet global development goals.
“Human-caused climate change is increasingly threatening nature and its contributions to people, including its ability to help mitigate climate change. The warmer the world gets, the less food, drinking water and other key contributions nature can make to our lives, in many regions,” said Hans-Otto Portner, co-chair of the Scientific Steering Committee.
“Changes in biodiversity, in turn, affect climate, especially through impacts on nitrogen, carbon and water cycles. The evidence is clear: A sustainable global future for people and nature is still achievable, but it requires transformative change with rapid and far-reaching actions of a type never before attempted, building on ambitious emissions reductions,” he said.
The authors also warned that narrowly-focused actions to combat climate change can directly and indirectly harm nature and vice-versa, but many measures exist that can make significant positive contributions in both areas.
Highlighting the significance of the co-sponsored workshop, Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, said: “Climate change and biodiversity loss combine to threaten society — often magnifying and accelerating each other. By focusing on synergies and trade-offs between biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation and adaptation, this workshop advanced the debate on how to maximise the benefits to the people and the planet.”