The UK has announced it will provide almost £30m to support developing countries in delivering the target of protecting 30% of land and sea by 2030, an amount which conservationists criticized as “nothing short of what is needed”.
The announcement was made on Thursday as Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey kicked off international negotiations at Cop15 in Montreal. The £29m pledge – of which £24m is new money – is being allocated to support developing countries in delivering the 30×30 target, which is a negotiating priority for the UK at the UN summit.
However, it was met with skepticism by some. “It is obviously welcome that the UK is starting to think about putting money on the table, but we all know that this does not look like what is needed – either to tackle the nature crisis or to unlock the diplomatic process,” said Craig Bennett, chief executive in Wildlife Trusts , which is at Cop15.
“We need real political leadership, and that means Thérèse Coffey making deals out here, getting Rishi Sunak on the phone to other world leaders and making deals to start trying to salvage these talks, and bring a whole other league of financial contributions to the table . to unlock this deadlock. That’s the bare minimum needed to reverse the natural crisis.”
Ian Dunn, CEO of Plantlife, who has also attended COP15, said: “Sometimes a doorway is only visible by a small glimmer of light. This is perhaps the only positive interpretation. The World Economic Forum suggests that over half of the world’s GDP is moderately or heavily dependent on nature. That’s $44tn [£36tn]which perhaps gives some perspective to the £30 million.”
A negotiator from one of the developing countries that walked out of talks on Wednesday in a row over money said: “It’s obviously peanuts. Ridiculous.”
Alongside the £29m, the government has also pledged £5.8m – which is part of the funding already announced – for projects to restore nature in overseas territories. The money goes to the Darwin Plus scheme, which will support more than 20 conservation projects abroad. This includes funding for satellite technology to monitor seabirds and humpback whales in South Georgia; reintroducing endangered plants to the Falkland Islands and helping endangered sea turtles in the Cayman Islands.
More than 160 scientists sent an open letter to Sunak in the run-up to Cop15, saying his decision not to attend sent a strong signal to the government that getting a good international deal for nature was of no importance. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has also weighed in, saying Sunak should create a legally binding domestic target to halt and reverse wildlife loss by 2030 in the UK, in line with international (but not legally binding) ambitions outlined in the UN’s current draft biological diversity. framework.
Coffey is under pressure for delaying the publication of the government’s environmental legislation on clean water and biodiversity. There are concerns among talk groups that water pollution targets are likely to be weakened amid an ongoing “attack on nature” by the government. Targets are expected to be announced in the coming days, more than six weeks after they were promised.
The UK’s International Environment and Climate Change Secretary, Zac Goldsmith, is working with more than 30 countries on a new 10-point plan to increase funding for biodiversity in partnership with the EU, Gabon, Ecuador and private donors.
Barry Gardiner, Labor MP for Brent North, described 30×30 as a “lovely soundbite”. In England, for example, the government says it protects about 28% of the country for nature, but in reality it’s closer to 3%, conservationists say. Gardiner said: “Saying something is a protected area on a map creates a paper park. It does nothing to save the environment or any species in it … this is a distraction from the urgent and unprecedented action that is really needed.”