Cop15: UK accused of hypocrisy over environmental protection targets | Biodiversity | Daily News Byte

Cop15: UK accused of hypocrisy over environmental protection targets |  Biodiversity

 | Daily News Byte

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Amid accusations of hypocrisy over the government’s position at COP15, environmentalists have said the UK’s environmental targets to protect Britain’s rainforests, cold-water coral reefs, chalk streams and peat bogs are a missed opportunity.

On Friday, the environment secretary, Therese Coffey, announced the government’s legally binding targets at a UN summit in Montreal, where the world is negotiating this decade’s agreement to protect the planet’s biodiversity, with talks expected to end on Monday.

The targets of the Environment Act include plans to restore more than half a million hectares of wildlife-rich habitat outside protected areas by 2042, improve the quality of the UK’s marine protected areas, reduce pollution and nitrogen runoff into river systems and expand tree cover. England 17.5%.

Along with France and Costa Rica, the UK is co-leading a coalition of more than 100 countries supporting the goal of protecting 30% of Earth’s land and seas by the end of the decade, known as “30×30”.

But despite international support for 30×30 the protected area target was not included in the UK government’s plans.

“The UK is home to globally rare habitats that are not under any designation. You can find patches of Celtic temperate rainforest without any protection. Another example would be lowland standing peat bogs, which are globally rare. Chalk streams and even cold-water coral reefs,” Wildlife Trust CEO Craig Bennett said from a conference in Montreal.

“It is surprising to see such great support for 30×30 from the UK Government at Cop15 when our own environmental targets for protected areas do not include a 30% target.”

On Friday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed support for the 30% target in a pre-recorded message, saying “we cannot tackle climate change without protecting our natural world”.

A government insider said there should be an immediate review of environmental targets after Cop15 to ensure they are consistent with the outcomes of the nature summit.

Guy Shrubsole, environmental campaigner and author of The Lost Rainforest of Britain, said the government had missed an opportunity to reforest the country and urged it to follow the example of incoming Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on rainforests.

“It is the height of hypocrisy for the UK government to call on the world to commit to 30×30 and fall far behind on this at home,” he said. “Currently, only 3% of England is properly protected for nature. The Government’s new Environment Act targets to add just 4% of new habitats by 2042 and ministers this week missed an opportunity to make our national parks wilder. Meanwhile we have President-elect Lula promising to end the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest – at least Britain should start bringing back our own temperate rainforests.”

Cop15 negotiations enter their final week in Canada, with more than 100 ministers working on a final agreement, known as the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Negotiations are well underway with many developing countries demanding more money to expand protected areas as part of the final deal.

A source close to the government said that if the 30% target is agreed at Cop15, the UK should review its own policies in the new year to ensure they are consistent with international commitments.

“To make sure we’re doing the 30×30 at home, we must go home and take an immediate, clear-cut review in the new year to see if the ambition we’re calling for in the rest of the world is matched at home,” he said. He said.

A Defra spokesman said: “The 30×30 target will not be legally binding on any country as a result of the Global Biodiversity Framework. But all G7 nations, including the UK, are committed to 30×30 and expect to be held accountable for delivering it.

The government has previously said its 2030 species abundance target will help drive wider environmental improvements and encourage actions to improve habitats within the UK’s protected areas and across the wider countryside.

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