The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released today, lays bare the existential threat to well-being, to natural ecosystems and to the health of the planet posed by global heating, but also spells out how the protection and restoration of nature can help pull us back from the precipice.
Zoë Quiroz-Cullen, FFI’s Director of Climate & Nature Linkages said:
“This report is both a profound warning about the state of our planet, and a blueprint for how the protection and restoration of nature can play a vital part in safeguarding our future.
It projects that up to 18% of species on land will be at very high risk of extinction if the planet warms by 2C. If worst-case scenarios come to pass, nearly half of all terrestrial species could be at risk of extinction at 5C of warming – a future that is unthinkable but all too plausible if governments don’t act now on pledges made at COP26 to keep warming below 1.5C this century.
The report warns that without urgent and deep carbon emissions reductions, more and more species will experience heatwaves, floods and droughts beyond survivable thresholds. This is not just a threat to biodiversity, it is a threat to societies too. The loss of healthy natural systems threatens food and water security, with the report identifying that it is those ecosystems and communities least able to cope which are most at risk.
But there is hope. The report places centre stage the importance of nature protection and restoration, which can help us both adapt to climate change and to prevent the worst warming scenarios. To be effective and sustainable, nature protection needs to be locally-led, with communities, including indigenous peoples, at the forefront. Alongside rapid cuts to emissions, safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystems can play a huge role in securing a better future for humanity and the species we share the planet with.
If we halt the destruction of carbon-rich ecosystems now they will be vital in helping to keep temperatures down in decades to come. As the report demonstrates, nature can save us, but first we must save nature.”