On Friday 11 June, Boris Johnson welcomed leaders from the UK, US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and Italy, along with representatives of the European Union to the G7 summit held in Carbis Bay, Cornwall.
The summit got off to a rocky start. Boris Johnson was widely criticised for arriving at the G7 Summit in Cornwall by plane, with The Green Party tweeting there was: “a big gaping hole between Boris’s climate talk and climate action.”
Greta Thunberg also held issue, speaking out against the G7 leaders, for watching “jet planes perform aerobatics” and having a “steak and lobster” celebration instead of focusing on the importance of the rapidly escalating effects of climate change.
Climate change was on the agenda though, so what actions have been put into place?
The biggest and boldest commitment made is seen in the G7 Nature Compact. This will focus on delivering outcomes for nature in 2021.
It aims to reverse nature loss, and halve carbon emissions by 2030. The agreement will provide support, protection, conservation and restoration of ecosystems critical to the reverse biodiversity loss and to tackling climate change. In fact, global leaders have committed to conserving and protecting at least 30% of global land and at least 30% of the global ocean by the end of the decade.
The Nature Compact agenda also included tackling deforestation, acknowledging the harmful effects of some subsides on the environment, the need to reform policies where negative effects are forced on nature, and overall, becoming net zero.
In order to drive a nature positive recovery, there needs to be increased investment towards nature. Throughout the next five years, finance is set to increase towards nature-based solutions, and G7 leaders will be tasking their Finance and other relevant Ministries to work together to identify ways to account for nature in economic and financial planning and decision-making.
The interconnected crises of climate change and biodiversity loss must be addressed in tandem, says WWF. The charity encourages G7 to tackle the issue by committing to creating a G7 Net-Zero Financial System Taskforce, prioritise the role of nature for climate ambition and secure a transformational global biodiversity framework.
Leaders recognise that working collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to encourage global system change is vital in making a difference. Overall, targets, agreements, reviews and prevention of any further nature loss or environmental damage is said to be a huge step towards taking action towards reversing biodiversity loss.
Sir David Attenborough addressed the world’s leading democracies at the meeting. He was clear in his message: “The natural world today is greatly diminished. That is undeniable. Our climate is warming fast and our societies and nations are unequal and that is sadly plain to see. The decisions we make this decade – in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations – are the most important in human history.”
“Tackling climate change is now as much a political and communications challenge as it is a scientific or technological one. We have the skills to address it in time, all we need is the global will to do so.”
Climate change was a key G7 priority for the government, as it prepares for hosting the UN COP26 environment summit in Glasgow in November this year. In a recent report, environment Secretary George Eustice said: “For the first time, the G7 has committed to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity in the next decade.”
This is a major step forward on the path to CBD COP15 and COP26 and is a sign of the dedication to accelerate action within the G7 – and beyond – to tackle the interdependent crises of climate change and biodiversity loss.”
Ultimately, only time will tell whether action will follow these words. The rocky start could be a cause for concern, but it is certainly positive to see nature finally be properly accounted for, as G7 leaders commit to halting and reversing the loss of biodiversity for the first time.
The race is now on as this is an important decade for change, and it is critical that the promises made at the summit become a reality. The world needs the G7 leaders to follow and prioritise these commitments to ensure we are on the road to a nature positive future.