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768. Overcoming the Interlinked Crises of Climate Change and Biodiversity Loss

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768. Overcoming the Interlinked Crises of Climate Change and Biodiversity Los

Climate change and biodiversity loss are having a huge enormous impact on our societies and ecosystems. The two crises are so closely linked by a common cause and effect that we must work simultaneously to resolve them.

On April 21, researchers from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published a paper in Science on the need to address the interlinked crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. 

Climate change is caused by anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, including those from biomass and biodiversity loss, and the development and globalization of human civilization has caused temperatures to rise beyond the Holocene. Meanwhile, rising average temperatures and the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are disrupting ecosystem functions, causing habitat loss and accelerating the loss of biodiversity on an unprecedented scale, which has already been affected by habitat degradation due to human activities, as well as overexploitation and pollution of natural resources. Both climate change and biodiversity loss undermine the benefits that nature has provided to people - livelihoods, economies, and development - and undermine support for climate change adaptation and mitigation. Failure to act now could exacerbate poverty, food security crises, forced migration, political instability and conflict. The global climate and biodiversity crises are interlinked, and their societal impacts extend to land, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, yet efforts to meet the IPCC target of limiting warming to 1.5°C have not been fully implemented, and many of the IPBES 2011-2020 Aichi Targets to halt biodiversity loss by 2020 have not been met.

Climate, biodiversity, and social issues have been treated as separate issues, even though they are very closely linked. Synergistic co-benefits can be expected when these sectors work together. Indeed, if warming is kept below 1.5°C under ambitious emission reduction measures, nature can efficiently capture and sequester carbon (through photosynthesis) in a functioning ecosystem that is free from human intervention. Enhancing the resilience of the biosphere resilience in land, freshwater, and oceans supports climate change mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, human well-being and livelihoods. Much scientific evidence suggests that priority should be given to undisturbed environments rich carbon and species diversity, and that conservation projects should be implemented with view to conserving biodiversity and ensuring socially equitable distribution of synergistic benefits. Scientific and policy coordination will be required.

Policies that ensure significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the protection of multiple-use landscapes and oceans, and equitable access to natural resources are needed to ensure both ecosystem function and human well-being in the future.

H.-O. Pörtner et. al., Overcoming the coupled climate and biodiversity crises and their societal impacts, Science (2023). DOI: 10.1126/science.abl4881. www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abl4881

Contributor: IIYAMA Miyuki Iiyama (Information Program)