Breakthrough for nature protection – Climate Weekly

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Chinese environment minister Huang Runqiu smiles after agreeing the Montreal-Kunming agreement (Photo: UN biodiversity/Flickr)


Before the Montreal nature talks, the head of the world’s most prominent nature fund told Climate Home they would either be a Copenhagen-style failure or a Paris-style success.

As delegates trudged through the snow, it looked like Copenhagen for most of the two weeks. World leaders weren’t invited and on Tuesday night, more than 60 negotiators from developing countries stormed out of finance talks. Ministers arrived on Thursday with a mountain to climb.

But climb it they did! In the early hours of Monday morning, China’s environment minister Huang Runqiu banged his gavel down on the Kunming-Montreal agreement. There were strong complaints from some African countries, led by the rainforest-rich Democratic Republic of Congo, but the deal was done.

They agreed to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030, to mobilise $200bn for nature protection, set up a new nature fund under the Global Environment Facility and get rid of at least $500bn a year worth of nature-harming subsidies by 2030.

Like the Paris agreement, it is voluntary. Nobody will force governments to protect anything and there’s no guarantee the sum of their individual pledges will add up to any of the targets above. But it’s far better than most nature-watchers were expecting.

This week’s stories

Sweating for sweets

In India, we’ve continued our series on how climate change is worsening the lives of India’s sugar farmers. A 46C heatwave is bad enough from an air-conditioned office. It’s quite another if you’re working 16 hours a day in a sugar field. Even worse if you’re female and expected to do housework on top of that and lift heavy bundles of sugarcane while pregnant.

The sugar grown in these fields is sold to big companies like Nestlé, Coca Cola and Pepsi. Teenager Dhanvir Kumar, who joins in the harvest on his family farm, had an uncomfortable message for those with a sweet tooth. “We grow sugar but can’t afford to buy sugar,” he said, “drinking tea with sugar is like a crime.”

The human cost of sugar

Read more on: Nature | |